Impact of Oracle's Sun Buy on Java and MySQL
Over 70% of developers working on Java and related technologies opine that Oracle's plan to buy Sun for $7.4 billion could lead to a much more robust position for Java software in the enterprise, according to results in a Saltmarch Intelligence survey to be released in June 2009. Additionally, over 55% of all project and development managers indicated increased confidence in going forward with their Java development efforts post the buy.
An Oracle buy out of Sun has deep implications for Sun, currently one of the largest public open source companies. It promises to put Oracle squarely in the hardware business, but most notably, Oracle will now own MySQL. Oracle had earlier sought to buy MySQL in 2007 for $850 million, which was the third time the company had attempted to acquire it. Importantly, over 82% of developers were circumspect on whether Oracle will preserve all of MySQL's momentum as a free solution, calling for a clearer MySQL roadmap from the database giant. "MySQL will still remain entrenched in open source in terms of its development, but Oracle will look for all possible avenues to monetize MySQL. Predictably, strategies such as pre-installing application on MySQL and offering database servers with MySQL could align Oracle's business much closer to the models of IBM and HP," said Indu Britto, Senior Vice President & Group Publisher of Saltmarch Media.
There is some concern that Oracle lacks the skills to use MySQL as a valuable functioning asset. "The problem with this is that Sun has already lost control of MySQL. With the MySQL team out of the company and the code base forking, there's very little leverage other than professional services," wrote Miko Matsumura, vice president and deputy CTO of Software AG, on his blog. Oracle provides almost no leverage in professional services compared to IBM."
"Java is the single most important software we've ever acquired," Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison said in a conference call, according to MarketWatch. (Oracle's Fusion middlware is Java-based.) Ellison also added this: "The acquisition of Sun transforms the IT industry, combining best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems. Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system - applications to disk - where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability and security go up."
The proposed Oracle-Sun merger is often seen in relation to a reported IBM-Sun merger. Over 45% of developers agreed that Oracle was a better suitor as compared to IBM on the merit of Oracle having every reason in the world to innovate and evolve Java as fast as it can. They see this as good for Java, in that it's in the hands of a profitable company that has reason to invest resources into the platform. But from the perspective of Java developers who don't work with Oracle or Oracle products, the road ahead might be a bit bumpy.
"Java is open source now, a move that can't be undone, and obviously it's to Oracle's interests to keep Java as a popular general-purpose programming language out in the marketplace -- that creates a wide pool of developers who will be interested in working with Oracle's Solaris/Java-based platform, and who will try to convince their bosses to buy it. But with Java set to become a key part of a number of Oracle product lines, the company might focus its
resources on aspects of the platform that fit that vision -- on the enterprise rather than the client or mobile platforms, onperformance rather than end-user ease-of-use," says Joshua Fruhlinger on his blog.
While there have been conspiracy theories that Oracle bought Sun to kill MySQL, or as a favor to his friend Scott McNealy, public companies just don't work that way - Oracle picked up a lot of valuable assets in the acquisition, and clearly Java is one of the most significant. With Oracle's excellent track record of acquisitions, it is reasonable to expect Oracle to make Java much more attractive to developers by better by understanding software developers.