Oracle's lawsuit against Google, filed on August 12, is important for more than just its effect on Android-based phones. In reality, it's an attack on all of the open source projects originally started by Sun Microsystems before it was purchased by Oracle. In fact, Oracle has already started rolling up the open source legacy of Sun, and it's closing down as much as it can, as fast as it can.
The lawsuit against Google revolves around the fact that Google compiled the open source version of the Java virtual machine for use in the Android environment. Oracle is suing because it claims that Google is infringing on its patents by doing so. Google, of course, is saying that Oracle's action is 'baseless.'
Regardless of how this finally ends up, Java developers have a real concern on their hands. Oracle has already made moves to end open source in other areas. Developers using Open Solaris, for example, have already been notified that there will be no further updates to this open source operating system from Oracle. Oracle has closed the future development of Solaris to only the paid version of the software. MySQL, which Sun acquired, is also in Oracle's crosshairs. After all, it competes directly with Oracle's flagship database products.
Java's future is less clear, but many observers think that Oracle will stop open source development of it as well as its case against Google continues, make Java into a proprietary environment, and charge for its use on all platforms.
None of this is new to Oracle, which has a long history of aggressive behavior. Some suggest that the next target is Linux, through its relationship with Red Hat, and others suggest that OpenOffice is on its way to becoming OracleOffice.
The real question, of course, is how this affects you. The answer is that it matters if you depend on open source software for some aspect of your business. For example, if you depend on Java as a development environment, then you probably should plan on paying for a commercial version, or finding another environment. If you're developing for Android mobile platforms, then be careful, and make absolutely certain that you adhere to the GPL so that Oracle can't come after you.
Meanwhile, you should also examine your application environment and decide what the risk is to your company if you're depending on software such as MySQL for business-critical functions. If you are, it would probably be a good idea to at least test your applications for proper functioning on another database environment just to be sure in case Oracle pulls the plug on this open source favorite.
While there's little chance that Oracle, despite its Genghis Khan-based business strategy (the CEO's motto is that it's not enough to win, but all others must lose), the more important issue is that Oracle's actions bring uncertainty into a world where most businesses don't want uncertainty. While I'm not recommending you abandon open source, I do think you need to know what your options are.