Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Oracle and The Sun

This changes things. Australia and the rest of Asia woke up to this startling news that Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corp have tied the knot.

Sun Microsystems owns the company known as MySQL AB. It provided sponsorship and support for the free open source database called, MySQL which is used the world over from Wordpress blogs to flickr, facebook and enterprises. Oracle is a world leading database company. You can imagine that both are in competition and both are development philosophies are opposite.

Yep, Oracle's market share just shot up.

The beauty of this Open Source license under which MySQL is licensed is that it remains free. Oracle doesn't own it. It owns the proprietary stuff that is coupled with MySQL and it may very well halt support and sponsorship for the project--- but the code can live on in someone else's backyard or developers the world over who are not satisfied with this latest development can invoke their right to fork. Which somewhat has happened with MariaDB.

It isn't to say that on the database market there isn't any competition at all. PostgreSQL is right up there. IBM and Microsoft have their offerings too.

There are other more interesting things here too. Oracle just got themselves an Operating System. OpenSolaris coupled with ZFS or Oracle's Cluster File System--- hello shot in the bow, not just at Microsoft and IBM but Red Hat too! For years, Oracle has been trying to get their own operating system. And that's exactly what it is, as per how Larry Ellison, big fish over at Oracle was saying about the deal.

OpenSolaris with a former Debain Linux guy (Ian Murdock) running the show is certainly moving Solaris towards a more-linux like feel, with Gnome and userland tools familiar to Linux users. Coupled with ZFS and Oracle's software assets, most certainly this is a threat to Linux and Microsoft.

At the end of the day, Oracle's "stewardship" of the software assets that it has just acquired from Sun may determine if the 7.4 billion dollars it has spent for it is good money. There can be no denying that an IBM buy of Sun was the better deal for developers, and for customers but this move by Oracle does shake things. In a down market as we have right now, it will be most interesting how this plays out.

The other thing is... "owning" things these days isn't the same as owning the software. Certainly, IBM buying say, Red Hat wouldn't do much to "own" linux. More like throwing money at something they don't really need to. It would just solidify their commitment to that platform, think more public relations than any practical result. IBM also gets JBoss. And the chess game of mine is bigger than yours will ensure. Maybe we'll even see a new operating system war.

At the end of the day, the market just got interesting.

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