Oracle/Sun: Vastly Changing the Hardware, Software, Services Landscape

Rob Enderle

Unbreakable Linux, which initially showed some promise, turned out to be an inside industry joke with Oracle at the butt of it. It just didn't seem to get much traction and the connection to Red Hat, instead of giving it a strong bounce, actually seemed to work against the product. With Sun, Oracle gets additional tools to remake itself into a platform player but also gets a hardware card it could use to raise a hardware vendor either to greater prominence or assured dominance. Let's chat about both.

 

Unbreakable Linux: Joke to Major Player

 

Oracle, at least for most of this decade, has performed nearly flawlessly. A company to be reckoned with, it has mowed down or rolled over most of its competitors. IBM and Microsoft are the two exceptions, but even these giants had difficulty competing with Oracle. However, when Oracle created Unbreakable Linux and ran against much smaller Red Hat and Novell, it got handed its hat and became kind of a running joke here in Silicon Valley.

 

With Sun, that joke gets a lot less funny. Sun still has a substantial installed base of customers who have not been able to move off Solaris to Linux and weren't particularly motivated to move. Granted, they also weren't particularly motivated to buy more, which is why Sun was in the financial trouble that forced it to look for a buyer. In addition, Oracle knows how to do mergers like this. Even the hostile PeopleSoft acquisition had it keeping more PeopleSoft customers than most thought was possible. Given that there is a substantial amount of client overlap between Oracle and Sun, keeping the Sun clients happy should be an easier task. This suggests that Oracle will position Unbreakable Linux as the upgrade to Solaris and, if it executes as well as it did with PeopleSoft, it should end up with a substantial bump in market share for its Linux platform. Enough anyway so that it becomes a real player, and that should allow others to take the platform more seriously.

 


Finally, it is believed that a substantial amount of code in Linux actually may belong to Sun and, with this acquisition, could belong to Oracle. While I don't expect a SCO moment, I would expect Oracle to use it as a bargaining chip to drive Linux in a direction it felt benefitted the firm. It may be the only company on the planet that might know how to do this without it blowing up in their face. This might make Oracle a leader among equals, and if it played with HP (see below), a real risk to the other enterprise distribution owners and IBM. Coupled with Java, which is both a valid platform in its own right and vastly more strategic to Oracle than it was to Sun, Oracle becomes a real platform company and better able to match both IBM and Microsoft going forward.

 

Hardware Kingmaker

 

Sun's hardware revenue has been falling off a cliff, but it retains a substantial share of the installed base for workstations and servers. It is doubtful that Oracle will stay in the hardware business because, by doing so, it would create a substantial competitive benefit for its hardware-independent competitors. Selling it out for cash and a closer partnership could change the hardware landscape significantly. Likely partners would be, in order of interest, Lenovo, Dell and HP. Each would get a slightly different benefit.

 

For Lenovo, it would instantly give the company server credibility and more direct access to companies that buy a variety of PC products. These Sun accounts probably do overlap somewhat with the IBM accounts that founded Lenovo but server relationships, particularly at the high end, tend to be much more stable than PC relationships because of the related scale and hardware life cycles. It's very costly to migrate. Were Lenovo able to stabilize and, with Oracle's help, protect the Sun installed base, it would exit the process as a major server player and a complete IT hardware portfolio supplier. If Lenovo were able to hang on through the transition, it would be in a vastly better competitive position across its account base than it is today. If it retained some of Sun's hardware resources, it would appear more international than Chinese, which would help it significantly outside and inside of China.



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Apr 22, 2009 4:12 AM d461515 d461515 d461515 d461515  says:

"it is believed that a substantial amount of code in Linux actually may belong to Sun and"

Tell me please, who believes this?  Jonathan Schwartz?  Larry Ellison? Anyone?  Anyone at all???

The odds that there is any Sun code in Linux (except code Sun may have contributed and released under the GPL) is slim to none, since the OSes are fundamentally very, very different on the inside.

It might be fair to say, " claims that there is Sun code in Linux," if you name the source.  Otherwise this is just hot air.

Reply
Apr 22, 2009 4:21 AM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says:

"... it is believed that a substantial amount of code in Linux actually may belong to Sun and, with this acquisition, could belong to Oracle. While I don't expect a SCO moment..."

Regardless, the list of individuals that obtained web.archive.org/web/20010124080900/www.sun.com/software/solaris/source/">Solaris 8 source code and methods from late 2000 through 2002 is secure now in Oracle's possession.

An SCO moment could have been prevented iF IBM had acquired Sun. Oracle gets to decide now!

Reply
Apr 23, 2009 6:43 AM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says:

"... it is believed that a substantial amount of code in Linux actually may belong to Sun..."

Kernel areas of great interest:

Task scheduling, virtual memory management (VM), communication device drivers, TCP/IP, storage device drivers, web server, kernel locking, kernel preemptibility (SMP only), buffer cache management, IPC (semaphores, shared memory, message queues, and pipes).

Kernel versions of great interest:

Version 2.4.17 and later, all 2.5 tests, early 2.6 versions.

Reply
Apr 23, 2009 12:49 PM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says:

I found a 1997 conversation among BSD developers with the subject line "SVR4.2MP source code has become available recently?"

A copy of the conversation is found at www.krsaborio.net/research/1990s/97/0725_b.htm

Some BSD developers were seriously considering taking a look at SCO or Sun code.

In early 1998, many developers asked SCO for ancient Unix source code licenses. A copy of the petition is found at www.krsaborio.net/research/1990s/98/0113_b.htm

That petition was signed among others by BSD developers. Notice some of the e-mail addresses from the petitioners.

Two years later, Sun made it easy for everyone to take a look at Solaris source code and methods, see www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/1206_a.htm

By June 2001, more the 2000 individuals got to see the Solaris source code and methods, see www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/01/0627_e.htm

In 2002, some Linux developers were concerned about access to Solaris source code / methods and their contributions, see www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/02/0331.htm

The data on who had access to Solaris 8 source code is indeed a valuable!

Reply
Apr 24, 2009 2:49 AM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says: in response to Anonymous Insider

Found another conversation from late 1997 held by BSD developers. Some discussed their desire to add reliable SMP to FreeBSD.

Key Quote: "Luckily we only have to compete against Solaris and UnixWare, and not good SMP systems... Dynix doesn't run on commodity hardware, and neither does Unisys's SVR4.0.2 ES/MP (which did the locking the right way instead of the Solaris/SVR4 way)..."

A copy of the conversation is found at this www.krsaborio.net/research/1990s/97/1201_f.htm">link.

Two years later on June 15th and 16th of 2000, BSD developers got together at Yahoo headquarters to discuss SMP:

www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/0625.htm" target="_blank">BSD SMP meeting summary www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/0626_g.htm" target="_blank">More www.krsaborio.net/research/acrobat/2000s/000614_bsd.pdf" target="_blank">Slides 1 [PDF] www.krsaborio.net/research/acrobat/2000s/000615_bsd.pdf" target="_blank">Slides 2 [PDF] www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/0619_g.htm" target="_blank">Photos

BSD developers already knew Sun had the intention to release Solaris 8 source code, see www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/0127_c.htm">link, www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/0127_d.htm">link, www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/0128_a.htm">link.

Sun released the Solaris 8 source code on December 6, 2000, see www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/00/1206_a.htm">link

Two years later, BSD developers got together on June 11, 12 of 2002 in a www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/02/0612_c.htm" target="_blank">FreeBSD Developer Summit and Alan Cox, prominent Linux contributor, joined by phone.

I bet there are some people anxiously waiting to see who had access to Solaris 8 source code and methods!

Reply
Apr 24, 2009 3:44 AM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says: in response to Anonymous Insider

Where does Solaris come from?

Sun Microsystems released Solaris 1.0 on September 4, 1991, see www.krsaborio.net/research/1990s/91/910904_a.htm">link.

Solaris 1.0 was based on SunOS 4.1.1, see www.krsaborio.net/research/1990s/90/901018.htm">link.

Solaris 2.0 was released on June 23, 1992, see www.krsaborio.net/research/1990s/92/920623_a.htm">link.

Solaris 2.0 and later versions were based on Unix System V Release 4.

See Solaris release history at this www.krsaborio.net/research/unix/sun.htm">link.

See Unix release history in this www.krsaborio.net/research/unix.htm">link.

Unix SMP development path is found in this www.krsaborio.net/research/unix/scalability.htm">link.

See BSD release history in this www.krsaborio.net/research/unix/bsd.htm">link.

Reply
Apr 24, 2009 4:07 AM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says: in response to Anonymous Insider

Appreciate your doing all this work.  Thanks!  I'll use many of these links in future pieces. 

Reply
Apr 24, 2009 4:19 AM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says: in response to Rob Enderle

You're welcome Rob. We must also thank Kenneth R. Saborio in Costa Rica for collecting all the documents.

By the way, it'll be cool if you can get from Sun the list of individuals that had access to Solaris 8 source code.

Cheers!

Reply
Apr 26, 2009 12:00 PM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says:

www.groklaw.net/comment.php?mode=display&;sid=2009042314142049&title=Some+new+FUD+about+Linux+and+Oracle+is+floated&type=article&order=&hideanonymous=0&pid=752625#c752988">vonbrand wrote:

"Even if most of Linux was written by Sun, it is under GPLv2, so they might own a part of it, but they don't control any of it in any meaningful sense.

"The only way to have some control over an open source project like Linux is to participate very actively in it. And even that would give a very limited control, as the others can just leave your work out if they don't like what you are doing. This was learned by IBM, for one."

Solaris 8 source code wasn't released on a GPLv2 license! (see the release date of Solaris 8 in the following comment)

Also, we're interested only on task scheduling, virtual memory management (VM), communication device drivers, TCP/IP, storage device drivers, web server, kernel locking, kernel preemptibility (SMP only), buffer cache management, IPC (semaphores, shared memory, message queues, and pipes).

Reply
May 16, 2009 3:28 AM Anonymous Insider Anonymous Insider  says:
Linus Torvalds said in the film Revolution OS (fast forward to minute 4:23 from Free Software goes Free Enterprise, see links below):

"The initial goal was my very personal goal to be able to run a similar environment on my computer that I had grown up used to it at the university computers and I could not find anything that suited me for that, so having been doing computers for all my life basically at that point I just decide I'll do my own. Most of the inspiration early on came from Sun OS which was what I was using at the university at the time..."

2001-02-01 www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/01/0201_g.htm" target="_blank">Linux Comes to the Big Screen www.krsaborio.net/research/2000s/01/0828_e.htm" target="_blank">More
2001-02-01 www.icr.co.cr/media/010201_revolution_os_1.wmv">What is Linux? What is Open Source [49MB WMV]
2001-02-01 www.icr.co.cr/media/010201_revolution_os_2.wmv">Free Software goes Free Enterprise [52.8MB WMV]
2001-02-01 www.icr.co.cr/media/010201_revolution_os_3.wmv">Free Software and Netscape's big gamble [40.9MB WMV]
2001-02-01 www.icr.co.cr/media/010201_revolution_os_4.wmv">SVLUG, BALUG, LALUG, Linux User Groups [25.7MB WMV]
2001-02-01 www.icr.co.cr/media/010201_revolution_os_5.wmv">The Revolution goes Prime Time [47.7MB WMV]

Note: a discussion is taking place at the messages.finance.yahoo.com/Stocks_(A_to_Z)/Stocks_S/threadview?m=tm&bn=2942&tid=474647&mid=474647&tof=1&frt=1">Yahoo SCO finance board. This comment helps enhance some of my comments in that board. Thank you. Reply

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