There’s been much coverage and speculation of what might or might not happen following the announcement that Oracle would like to buy Sun Microsystems and Sun are apparently happy to be bought by Oracle [note the deal hasn't actually happened yet].
I’ve not said much on this because, speculation is, frankly, pretty pointless. We have no idea what is going to happen in reality and I certainly do not have an ear in Larry or Jonathan’s Office. Oracle are going to pay a great deal of money for Sun and they will get a company that is is well liked by many – but not all – in the FOSS community. What do they have that Oracle want?
- Solaris – A nice operating system for servers. Important to Oracle for a number of reasons. A great deal of their database solutions run on Solaris. Open Solaris is available under an OSI approved Licence.
- Java – Almost a world in it’s own right and something that is very, very important to lots and lots of companies including Sun’s other early suitor, IBM. Personally I reckon this is Sun’s jewel-in-the-crown. Not for monetary value necessarily, but because it touches almost everyone in some way. From the Java web site: “Java powers more than 4.5 billion devices including: 800+ million PCs, 2.1 billion mobile phones and other handheld devices (source: Ovum), 3.5 billion smart cards, Set-top boxes, printers, Web cams, games, car navigation systems, lottery terminals, medical devices, parking payment stations, and more.” Java is free to use and there is the Open JDK available under the GPL.
- Lots of hardware – Are Oracle interested in this? Several commentators think not and come up with a credible scenario whereby Oracle can sell off the h/w bits and get back most of what they paid for the whole business. Here’s a nicely succinct piece as an example. That’s quite a compelling story but only time will tell. Maybe Oracle does want to expand into h/w too? Who knows. It would help it compete more against HP and IBM in areas where they were “partners” before…
- MySQL – Lots of worried voices in the blogoshpere and others keeping surprisingly quiet. Much of the mainstream MySQL code is GPL.
- OpenOffice.org – This could hold tremendous opportunity for Oracle should they wish. Take on MS? They could really hurt Microsoft’s cash cow (Office) if they decided or wanted too. OpenOffice.org is licensed under the LGPL.
Oracle is not unknown in the FOSS world. It has a number of FOSS products and projects such as their own Linux, the InnoDB engine that is used in MySQL (today they released a new embedded version, under the GPL), remember the Berkeley DB from Sleepycat Software? Yep. They have that too (OSI Approved License).
So, not much idle speculation from me. But here are few others speculating that I found interesting:
Please drop by any other good links that are worth reading or comments you have. But remember, there’s no point in getting wound up or anxious. Nobody really knows what is going to happen but one thing is certain if the deal goes through; the Free and Open Source Ecosystem has just landed a very big fish indeed…
Sun Microsystems Announces Agreement to Acquire innotek, Expanding Sun xVM Reach to the Developer Desktop
SANTA CLARA, CA February 12, 2008 Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) today announced that it has entered into a stock purchase agreement to acquire innotek, the provider of the leading edge, open source virtualization software called VirtualBox. By enabling developers to more efficiently build, test and run applications on multiple platforms, VirtualBox will extend the Sun xVM platform onto the desktop and strengthen Sun’s leadership in the virtualization market. This software is available for all major operating systems at www.virtualbox.org and www.openxvm.org.
Wow! Sun is really moving. This acquisition expands their ability to get into enterprises with OSS on the desktop as well as in the data centre.
VirtualBox is a really great virtualisation engine which sits very well on top of my Linux desktops and servers. For example, it enables us to run the dreaded Windows inside a secure cage on our safe and sound Linux infrastructure. For when we need to do integration testing or migration development.
With SUN buying MySQL, and now Innotek they are moving horizontally across the enterprise, gaining more traction where M$ is currently king…
Think about it. Sun now have,
- Operating System (Open Solaris, or they could chose to support any of the Linux flavours out there too)
- OpenOffice.org desktop application suite that is gaining traction very fast world-wide
- One of the world’s most popular database engines used to power much of the web and beyond
- Cross platform virtualisation technology enabling almost any OS to any OS integration
I do believe there is a real strategy here… Are Sun aggressively going after M$, rather than simply being content to sit in the data centre? You bet they are.
Watch this space… The world is a-changing.
SANTA CLARA, CA January 16, 2008 Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire MySQL AB, an open source icon and developer of one of the world’s fastest growing open source databases for approximately $1 billion in total consideration. The acquisition accelerates Sun’s position in enterprise IT to now include the $15 billion database market. Today’s announcement reaffirms Sun’s position as the leading provider of platforms for the Web economy and its role as the largest commercial open source contributor.
Wow. That really makes sense for Sun and makes the chaps from MySQL nicely rich!
Sun have already shown themselves to be pretty into the Open Source thing. In the last couple of years they have Open Sourced Java and Solaris. Two of their biggest software platforms. I recall Jonathan Schwartz saying how, after giving away the software for free they made more money from it… That makes perfect sense to me, but it doesn’t seem to work for Microsoft yet.
One of my current favourite blogs is “The Open Road” by Matt Assay. A prolific commentator, well known in the Open Source industry and employed by Alfresco to boot (although the amount he writes on his blog I’m surprised he has time for much else).
Anyway, he recently did a series of interviews with many individuals that are at the heart of the Open Source phenomenon, from Red Hat, through Novell, IBM and many others. Amongst all of them Matt’s recent interview with Jonathan Schwartz (CEO Sun Microsystems) was absolutely fascinating and really did stand out from the crowd.
Jonathan is no ivory tower CEO – his own blog at Sun is a very good read and includes the now famous invitation to Linus Torvalds to come round for dinner: “I’ll cook, you bring the wine”. [I wonder if they ever did get together?]
The interview Matt presents here shows Jonathan Schwartz having the kind of insightful thinking and clarity of vision that make many other executives’ ramblings thoroughly insignificant. Matt concludes:
Fascinating, fascinating stuff. Sun is a contender again, and largely because of the vision and tenacity of Jonathan Schwartz.
And here’s a taster from Jonathan:
In a year where Sun arguably moved more aggressively to give away more free software than any other company, we grew our software business by 13%. It was the fastest-growing business at Sun (and doesn’t even include Solaris, which we don’t yet break out). We pumped out more software last year than we have in the history of the company. We gave it away. And yet our software business grew by 13%.
Read Matt’s article to find out why and how Sun is rising. If you are at all interested in Open Source and also how to make money from it, this is one of the most clearly articulated examples I have ever read. Nice one Matt. That’s a real gem.