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[something Delphic here]
April 20, 2009 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Oracle to acquire Sun for $7.4 billion. This gives Oracle, among other things, Solaris, MySQL, Java and OpenOffice, and means that Oracle is now a hardware manufacturer rather than a reseller.

This may have little to do with your day-to-day desktop or laptop computer use, but Oracle now controls the licenses for the software, programming language, or both running on very nearly every website you use.

Sun's homepage announces it in large letters, while Oracle is slightly more restrained.
posted by ardgedee (60 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow.
posted by jouke at 10:20 AM on April 20, 2009


Can someone tell me if its good that Oracle now owns MySQL. It doesn't sound good, on its face.
posted by shothotbot at 10:22 AM on April 20, 2009


I wonder how long it will take for them to kill off MySQL?
posted by bshort at 10:23 AM on April 20, 2009


. for MySQL?
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:23 AM on April 20, 2009


.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:25 AM on April 20, 2009


They can't kill MySQL - the source remains open. They will use it to kill off any low-end database competitors while retaining all the high-end market for Oracle DB. Oracle is already a services company anyway - their 2008 new license revenue was $2.8B versus renewals/support at $10.3B and services at $3.5B. Their real desire is to get as many support contracts as possible and MySQL is as good for that as anything else.

What really stinks about this is that it likely means significant layoffs in the next 24 months as they combine back-office operations. Plus they'll likely cut some engineering staff as well as they kill off the less important projects at Sun. Feh.
posted by GuyZero at 10:29 AM on April 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Now that Larry Ellison controls most of the software I use, I'd like to apologize insincerely for referring to him in the past as the chorizo CEO... all lips and asshole.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:29 AM on April 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Can someone tell me if its good that Oracle now owns MySQL.

I think the jury is still out on that; the bodings of doom and woe that have been going 'round the tubes are premature to say the least. Oracle and MySQL have completely different target markets.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:33 AM on April 20, 2009


Oracle/Solaris/Java is akin to the holy trinity at my office (large multinational corporation). I can imagine quite a few of the pencil pushers are actually quite happy with the idea of being able to deal with one vendor, and that sentiment is probably shared at other extremely large business institutions, where the preferred solution is the one that has the lowest liability on the decision makers.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:34 AM on April 20, 2009


Also, after SGI going bankrupt on April 1, Sun getting acquired marks end of the era of the minicomputer/UNIX workstation. HP-UX died (along with PA-RISC), then IRIX (MIPS), then AIX (Power) and now SunOS/Solaris (SPARC) becomes a historical footnote with a number of long-term support contracts. Yay Ubuntu, Novell/SuSE and Mac OS X. Good luck guys - and remember that Intel is your friend, right?
posted by GuyZero at 10:34 AM on April 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Both MySQL and Java are open source. And so is Solaris and Open Office People can do whatever they want with the code, but of course they couldn't use those names. The guy who had been the director of MySQL had already left and was working on the horribly named database server called Drizzle.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oracle/Solaris/Java is akin to the holy trinity at my office

As long as they keep bug-fixing the JVM, everything will be all right.

Also, will this mean more or fewer parties at JavaOne this summer?
posted by GuyZero at 10:35 AM on April 20, 2009


As far as I know Sun has been the single largest corporate contributor to open source projects by a large margin for years now. It would be a shame if this merger ends up forcing them to adjust their priorities and focus less on open source.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:36 AM on April 20, 2009


Also, after SGI going bankrupt on April 1...

Again?
posted by delmoi at 10:36 AM on April 20, 2009


> They can't kill MySQL - the source remains open.

MySQL Server is free and open source, but Enterprise Edition is mixed proprietary and open. Oracle also owns InnoDB and and Berkeley DB, two of the most popular database engines used by MySQL installations; retiring or altering either of them will affect public use of the open-source MySQL Server.

And in any event, Oracle will control the MySQL trademark by acquiring MySQL AB, and can retire or sell it as they wish.
posted by ardgedee at 10:37 AM on April 20, 2009


They sold off all the pieces April 1. Yeah, I guess it wasn't exactly bankruptcy, but SGI is officially dead now. Rackable bought their remaining assets. A pretty sad ending for the company.
posted by GuyZero at 10:38 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hrm. I guess Oracle gave up on making JInitiator compatible with Vista and just decided to buy Sun instead. Clever.
posted by splice at 10:40 AM on April 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, maybe this will mean a resurgence for Postgres! They were more technically advanced for a long time.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sun's employment base has already seen some definite hits, as least in the channel. Our Sun rep's entire team was leveled only a few weeks ago.
posted by Mali at 10:49 AM on April 20, 2009


CRAP. That means they now own VirtualBox.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 10:51 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


$7.4 billion for the sun? Not a bad deal, but good luck collecting it.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:54 AM on April 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


CRAP. That means they now own VirtualBox.

Also Open Source.
posted by delmoi at 10:54 AM on April 20, 2009


They cannot kill it as there is source and several forks already available - beside - Postgres and Firebird still exist. Sorry, but I never liked/trusted mySQL - gimme Firebird any day.
posted by jkaczor at 10:54 AM on April 20, 2009


Interesting, and Microsoft has been pushing into small to mid-size businesses hard. The philosophies seem completely different, with Oracle wanting to go the support contract way and Microsoft wanting business power users to become developers (I'm convinced Sharepoint is being pushed as a middleware program to get rid of expensive programmers). I wonder where does this leave SAP? They don't seem to have as much integration.

Also Cisco is pushing out into the server space. Cisco and Microsoft working together, the battleground at mid-sized businesses? My God, the horror, the horror.
posted by geoff. at 10:57 AM on April 20, 2009


My God, the horror, the horror.

Especially if you're HP.
posted by GuyZero at 10:58 AM on April 20, 2009


For many people they are supposed to be paying for a MySQL license. I'd guess that Oracle will be more aggressive about the fees. A bit of automated web searching could show what firms are not paying their fees.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:58 AM on April 20, 2009


CRAP. That means they now own VirtualBox.

I read last week that someone managed to run ESX 3 inside VMware workstation, which I'm pretty sure means that some poor shit just got his visit from Pinhead.

Also, there are a bajillion open-source virtualization systems. VirtualBox was pretty meh.
posted by GuyZero at 11:00 AM on April 20, 2009


So the big four in enterprise computing are now HP, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft? It's going to be so hard to decide which one I hate more. Or which one writes worse software.
posted by octothorpe at 11:01 AM on April 20, 2009


Well, and Salesforce.com.
posted by GuyZero at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2009


Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy in the same room? Can't see it happening. This is gonna take a while to digest.
posted by VicNebulous at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2009


"With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle can optimize the Oracle database for some of the unique, high-end features of Solaris. Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships. "

I wonder just how true that will turn out to be?
posted by Lanark at 11:05 AM on April 20, 2009


Oh man, where is fake steve jobs when you need him?
posted by mullingitover at 11:10 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry guys... it's totally my fault that Sun Microsystems had to sell out to Oracle. If only I had sent my $40 to Sun for an installation kit for Solaris 10 10/08 sooner... this could all have been avoided.

SPARC 4 LIFE, yo.

.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:14 AM on April 20, 2009


Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms

Other open platforms? Look at the history of Oracle VS FreeBSD or Java VS FreeBSD or even IBM's deliberate use of the FreeBSD partition number to give an idea what 'other' means to the big boys.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


This makes a heck of a lot more sense for Oracle than it did for IBM. For IBM the acquisition would've been largely a growth measure for their existing business; there would have been a lot of overlap and inefficencies that would've taken a long time to work out. For Oracle it represents an aggressive expansion onto IBM's enterprise turf.

The interesting question is whether this will push IBM in a new direction. If Oracle decides to start wielding the Java platform as a club, that might push IBM to fully embrace virtualization and next-gen webapp platforms and start flogging them heavily to enterprise customers. Which I think would be a good thing.
posted by xthlc at 11:27 AM on April 20, 2009


$7.4 billion...pretty cheap given all the opportunities this opens up for Oracle.
posted by aerotive at 11:32 AM on April 20, 2009


[something Delphic here]

*Ahem*

And lo Laurentius, the Son of Ellis, desired to claim the Sun for himself, that he might challenge the Big Blue that surrounds the Sun. Therefore he went up to the Pythia at Delphi, and this is the advice she gave:

"Seat yourself now amidships, for you are the pilot of [the Sun]. Grasp the helm fast in your hands; you have many allies in your city."

And that same day the disciples of the Sun went to the Oracle to ask after their own fate, and she proclaimed:

"Now your statues are standing and pouring sweat. They shiver with dread. The black blood drips from the highest rooftops. They have seen the necessity of evil. Get out, get out of my sanctum and drown your spirits in woe."

Oracular statements courtesy of Wikipedia. Bad archaic prose courtesy of me.
posted by jedicus at 11:33 AM on April 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm curious as to what Oracle's plans for MySQL will be. With Oracle's own DB system being targeted to enterprise systems, and different forks of MySQL (Sun's own Drizzle, and MySQL co-founder Monty's MariaDB) most likely targeting smaller businesses. I wonder if there's enough middle ground for the MySQL engine to be worth Oracle's development time.
posted by borkencode at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2009


For many people they are supposed to be paying for a MySQL license. I'd guess that Oracle will be more aggressive about the fees. A bit of automated web searching could show what firms are not paying their fees.
Huh? If you're paying for MySQL, the main thing you're paying for is the service and support, not the software. I'm pretty sure Sun or Oracle could just look at their receivables to see who's behind on their payments for that.

And it's hardly trivial to find out exactly what database powers a website if they don't advertise it.
posted by kmz at 11:42 AM on April 20, 2009


Oracle also owns InnoDB and and Berkeley DB, two of the most popular database engines used by MySQL installations; retiring or altering either of them will affect public use of the open-source MySQL Server.
Those are also open source though. Obviously it would be a mess if they actually killed InnoDB, to take a far-fetched example, but something like Percona's XtraDB would pick up the slack.
posted by kmz at 11:47 AM on April 20, 2009


I don't care a whit about MySQL, let them do what they like. I'm kind of a single-issue voter for this deal; I want solaris GPL'd (ZFS and DTrace). If I get that I'll take back some of the horrible slurs I've uttered in Oracle's direction.
posted by Skorgu at 11:51 AM on April 20, 2009


$25 Million for SGI's assets, they could probably make some cool bar fridges out of a bunch of old Onyx's. I shed a tear for my old Octane 2.
posted by phirleh at 12:08 PM on April 20, 2009


Hmm, IBM sniffed around Sun...and ran away as fast as it could. I wonder what skeletons their due diligence team found that Oracle's didn't (or did, only to be overruled by Larry Ellison).
posted by Skeptic at 1:14 PM on April 20, 2009


What a lovely, upbeat article with an offhand mention of 10,000 lost jobs at the end.
posted by yath at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


IBM didn't have much of a use for the hardware side of Sun's business. Oracle does.

As for MySQL, I assume this will just serve to more quickly push users to the (thinner, without triggers and sprocs, DrizzleDB) or MariaDB. Both of these are forked from the MySQL codebase, and are more community-driven than Sun's attempt was and/or Oracle's will be.
posted by toxic at 1:35 PM on April 20, 2009


Oracle has made some much more complex acquisitions than IBM lately - Peoplesoft, BEA, Siebel. Sun should be relatively simple compared to those. The Peoplesoft acquisition was downright anti-competitive IIRC. IBM's acquisitions of Cognos and Rational (the two biggest of the last decade) were probably pretty simple by comparison. Maybe Oracle has legal muscle IBM lacks to make this work.
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on April 20, 2009


Sun: We're the dot in .
posted by ooga_booga at 2:03 PM on April 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Maybe Oracle has legal muscle IBM lacks to make this work.

Hmm, people have said many things about Big Blue, but never that it lacked lawyers.
posted by Skeptic at 2:12 PM on April 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


IBM has had their share of anti-trust investigations and is more wary of them than Oracle is.

From wikipedia:
IBM's success in the mid-1960s led to inquiries as to IBM antitrust violations by the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a complaint for the case U.S. v. IBM in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, on January 17, 1969. The suit alleged that IBM violated the Section 2 of the Sherman Act by monopolizing or attempting to monopolize the general purpose electronic digital computer system market, specifically computers designed primarily for business. Litigation continued until 1983, and had a significant impact on the company's practices. In 1973, IBM was ruled to have created a monopoly via its 1956 patent-sharing agreement with Sperry-Rand in the decision of Honeywell v. Sperry Rand, a decision that invalidated the patent on the ENIAC.
Unlike Oracle, IBM has felt real pain from antitrust lawsuits. Oracle can/will continue to make aggressive acquisitions until they too get burned (if ever).

It's not a lack of lawyers, but a lack of ability to do anything with them other than simply stay in business.
posted by GuyZero at 2:18 PM on April 20, 2009


Yea, the IBM acquisition never made much sense. IBM already has at least four different types of servers, AS400, AIX, OS390, and Linux, adding Solaris to the mix wouldn't really help them much. It seems to fill holes in Oracles product line better than it would have IBM's.
posted by octothorpe at 2:19 PM on April 20, 2009


wow.
posted by Addiction at 6:33 PM on April 20, 2009


None of my family knew what the hell it meant when I told them I worked on Sun computers for a living before, I can only imagine how stupid it will sound in a decade or two.

I feel like a Studebaker mechanic.

I just started a new job today, at a shop with ZERO Sun gear. The first time in about 14 years. I guess I should go up in the attic and gather up all of my old unipacs and SBus cards and take 'em to the recycling dude. Weird.
posted by popechunk at 8:06 PM on April 20, 2009


Popechunk: Solaris is definitely on its way out as far as I am concerned.

Used to be everything in the .edu world was designed on sun hardware and Solaris, so that is where it compiled best and ran best.

Now, so many packages that academic types need are coded and designed on linux, that trying to compile or install them on Solaris leads to a cascading mess of compiler flags, updating software packages, removing SUNW proprietary packages and rebuilding from code, etc.

Uwashington imap server software notes tell you not to run the package on solaris because it has goofy file locking behavior that really degrades performance.

If you run Linux, all this stuff just installs like it was meant to run on linux, because it was. This summer we are rebuilding a statistics server from solaris 10 for x86 to linux, just beacause of Solaris' issues with all the open source packages that server was built to host.

So, critical mass is what built Sun, and critical mass will tear it down.
posted by jester69 at 8:46 PM on April 20, 2009


. for Java.

Hopefully.
posted by DU at 4:55 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sun took a ten year vacation developing their hardware and operating system technologies... they were focused on Java with laser-like intensity, until, too late, they realized there wasn't as much money in being a compiler company as there is in being an IT powerhouse.

Meantime, IBM kept up the pace, x86/Linux caught up and then blew past SPARC/Solaris, and everyone else became HP or went out of business. HP backed IA64 running Windows, which was stupid, but they have a very loyal HP-UX and VMS customer base. IA-64 has become more of a replacement for PA-RISC and Alpha rather than a world-beater, and has so far turned out to be a very decent chip once you give up on the x86 compatibility BS and accept that it's going to be expensive and run hot.

Once Sun realized no-one was interested in slow boxes running an antique Unix variant not known for its reliability, they stepped into high gear, but became completely unfocused, and allowed their prodict lines to overlap. The AMD boxes are very good sellers, but the margins are thin and they're still slower than top-tier Intel boxes, and it undercuts the market for the big-margin goodies running Sparc. The Netra T1 was a great idea, poorly marketed and hastily developed. Using Fujitsu's SPARC-compatible chips was a great idea, drowned in R&D morass that lets IBM and Intel get further and further ahead.

Solaris 10 is about as sexy as a Unix can get under the hood - and it's rapidly catching up to open-source *nixen in terms of convenience features. But, again, not having a team to to make sure all of the common tools and apps in Linux-land compile and run as expected on Solaris was a mistake.

Too many mistakes, relentless competition and now Sun is no more, a subsidiary of Oracle. This is probably a good thing, if you like Sun products.

Ellison doesn't make mistakes, and he's the very definition of relentless competition. I think IBM, HP and Red Hat are about to be in for a very rough ride. Remember when Steve Jobs took over Apple when it was on the ropes? Yeah. Like that.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:33 AM on April 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Once Sun realized no-one was interested in slow boxes running an antique Unix variant not known for its reliability, they stepped into high gear, but became completely unfocused...

We were just talking about this the other day. Why, we asked, would someone buy an Ultra40? If I want an Intel chip running Linux, why don't I just buy a regular PC (or server) and install Linux and cut my costs by an order of magnitude?
posted by DU at 6:54 AM on April 21, 2009


IBM kept up the pace

Barely. IBM also became a services company. Sun made a very conscious decision not to do so. I say McNealy describe it at a JavaOne keynote one year. The problem is that there's no room left for pure-play hardware vendors anymore. You must sell services first. Oracle and IBM know this. Sun also knew this but decided not to do it for some inexplicable reason.
posted by GuyZero at 9:59 AM on April 21, 2009


No, IBM is pretty damn irreplaceable in the server room. There are times when one big, honking piece of hardware does a better job than a bunch of little pieces of hardware clustered together. (No, really. Amdahl's Law.) IBM takes it a step further, and designs their hardware from the silicon up for batch-processing. That, and their POWER RISC processors for their AIX and obsolete-this-time-we-mean-it-well-maybe-one-more-decade OS/400 systems are worth what you pay for them if you need raw speed and throughput.

What pays for the R&D for this raw speed and throughput are the service contracts, tho... I will agree with that.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:21 AM on April 21, 2009


IBM Services pulled in $59B in 2008 vs System at $19B and software at $22B. Both software and system had higher gross margins (I'm surprised IBM report gross margins in the 10K, but hey, great) but there just isn't enough business simply selling stuff. And services doesn't need to cross-subsidize R&D - software has an 85% gross margin (!!!) at IBM. But services, even at lower margins, have been the growth engine for the last couple of decades.

That's not to knock IBM's hardware - it's great stuff and they still do some of the best research in the industry, but Sun's not so bad either. Sun's high-end boxes provide the most processing capacity of any mainstream UNIX system (to my knowledge). Maybe IBM has a bigger box for AIX but AIX sux rox.

Anyway, obviously someone needs to make hardware, but the fact is that unless you're MSFT hardware is the milk at the back of the store. It's what draws customers in so you can sell them some services.
posted by GuyZero at 11:09 AM on April 21, 2009


Solaris and Oracle are still at the very top of many large corporations' shopping lists. There have always been, and there will always be, companies that are terrified of open source. They want to do business with businesses. A single-vendor Solaris/Oracle combo is going to be very appealing.

Meanwhile, I don't think we have much to fear from this new entity. Sun has been a good open-source citizen for years now, despite occasional yelps from the neck-bearded masses. Oracle, while less eager, provides all sorts of nearly open-source software, e.g. smalltime versions of Oracle, developer tools. Certainly nothing that would satisfy Stallman, but enough to show they understand the direction software is headed.
posted by Nahum Tate at 4:36 PM on April 21, 2009


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