posted by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Apr 2009 19:00 UTC
IconWith today's surprise announcement that Oracle will acquire Sun Microsystems, several questions were raised as to some Sun products, including MySQL, Solaris, and OpenOffice.org. Browsing around the net, there are several viewpoints on the future of these Sun products, and the OpenOffice.org team has even issued a statement itself.

Let's start with the OpenOffice.org team. They are optimistic about this announcement, and are happy that this marks the end of the uncertainty around Sun's future. "We've been very comfortable with the way that Sun set up the project and has kept a careful eye on us over the years," John McCreesh, OpenOffice.org's marketing lead, told ZDNet, "They'll be a hard act to follow, but we'll approach the future with optimism and an open mind."

A more problematic situation could arise for MySQL. What would Oracle, a company focussed on database products, see in the open source database MySQL? Software engineer Ryan Thiessen, an 11-year MySQL veteran, will be speaking at the MySQL Conference this week, and he wrote a blog post this morning, titled "Stunned".

I am stunned at the news that Oracle is buying Sun. This is not because I fear change or uncertainty, last time this year I was cautiously optimistic about Sun's purchase of MySQL. But not this year, it's fear and disappointment over what this means for MySQL.

When I read this as a rumour a few weeks ago I thought it was a joke of an idea. Why would a high margin software company want to buy a declining hardware business, even if that hardware is great? As for their software, I cannot imagine that Oracle is interested in Java, MySQL, etc as revenue generating products, it would just be a tiny blip for them.

Another line of thinking goes into another direction than Thiessen's. Oracle serves the higher end of the database market, compared to MySQL which focusses on the lower end of the same market. With round and about 11 million installations, MySQL offers Oracle a lot of leverage in a market they previously didn't really took part in. "While no one could ever rightfully claim that MySQL threatens Oracle's higher-end database offerings, its addition to the portfolio gives Oracle additional leverage in a market with significant growth potential," Independent analyst Carmi Levy told BetaNews, "The MySQL installed base of approximately 11 million gives Oracle sales teams fertile opportunity to have conversations they haven't previously had."

Personally, I fear the future of the SPARC platform. SPARC hasn't exactly been doing stellar lately, and has all but vanished from the workstation segment. In the high performance computing market, it isn't doing very well either; in 2002, 101 of the Top 500 supercomputers were SPARC-based - now, that has dropped to just one. Developing and maintaining your own architecture is a costly business, especially in the face of cheap x86 processors.

As a final note, both IBM and Microsoft were surprised by the announcement. "I just learnt it [...] I need to think about it. I am very surprised," Steve Ballmer told Reuters. Apparently, IBM was surprised as well; they were still hoping to buy Sun.

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