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Will Sun's Open Source Software Survive Oracle?

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The tech press is buzzing with the news that database giant Oracle is "taking IBM's leavings," in a sense, and buying Sun Micrososystems for $7.4 billion.

 

The details that have been made public so far have been bandied about so much already I'm not going to repeat them again. The more interesting question is what the deal will mean -- particularly for Sun's open source software. Historically, Larry Ellison and Oracle haven't been the open source evangelists that Jonathan Schwartz and Sun have worked to be.

 

As always with things like this, reaction has been mixed. At ComputerworldUK, Glynn Moody writes:

I suspect that one of the things that made Sun so attractive was that buying it Oracle could attempt to deal with two open source threats at once-one direct, the other more indirect. Its aim will be to throttle the upstart pretender to the throne in order to protect the reigning monarch. That's going to be bad for both GNU/Linux and MySQL.

ZDNet's Dana Gardner says the acquisition "makes perfect sense" and will be great for Java. He says:

Winners on the deal include Java itself in the fullest and broadest sense. Oracle and IBM are the premier Java vendors, and the might of IBM (and its customers and developers) in the market will force Oracle to keep Java open and vibrant, while Oracle's penchant for control and commercial success will keep Java safe and singular.

According to CNET News blogger Matt Asay, it's all about integrated hardware and software. He says Oracle is taking the industry back to a "systems" approach. Though the MySQL technology doesn't play a big part yet, it may. He writes:

MySQL's market share in the enterprise database market is negligible, but its share of the exploding Web database market is dominant and exploding.... [T]his acquisition makes Oracle the clear behemoth in databases, past (enterprise) and future (Web).

Interestingly, though, Jaspersoft CEO Brian Gentile has a different take altogether. He says Oracle will be spinning out Sun's hardware and systems business. What the company really wants, according to Gentile, is "the hearts and minds of the software development community."

 

The move positions Oracle to compete more effectively with IBM, Oracle and SAP, and to do so, he says Oracle will need to be a lot more "transparent and collaborative" than it has been in the past. Like Asay, Gentile says speculation on MySQL's future is premature. He writes:

Oracle execs will surely understand the most successful use-cases for MySQL and allow it to continue flourishing in those arenas. Where MySQL encroaches on the functionality of Oracle's main database products, the outlook is murkier.

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