Oracle Sun Update

While Steve Jobs was introducing Apple's iPad, Oracle was explaining its own approach to hybrid hardware/software offerings. Oracle yesterday announced that it has completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Oracle now provides a complete stack consisting of Storage, Server Hardware, Operating Systems (Linux and Solaris), Database (Oracle and MySQL), Middleware (Fusion), Programing Language (Java), and Applications.

In general across the Java and Middleware areas, other than Java, most incumbent Oracle offerings will remain "strategic," whereas their counterparts from Sun will be merely supported. Here's a quick take on some of the announcements that might impact content technology users:

  • Oracle will keep investing in Java and plans to unify J2ME (for mobile) and J2SE. Currently it is not easily possible to create applications in Java that will run uniformly on computers and mobile devices. So this will help take Java closer to the "write once, run anywhere" promise.  Oracle also plans to include support for IPTV and Blueray devices in Java.
  • On the application server front, Oracle will share some technology pieces between WebLogic and Glassfish. Oracle WebLogic continues as the strategic application server platform and Sun's Glassfish will serve as the reference implementation for "tactical applications." Similarly, Sun's NetBeans will focus on "lightweight development," whereas Oracle's JDeveloper will be Oracle's IDE of choice for enterprise application development.
  • As expected, Oracle's WebCenter Suite (we cover it in our Enterprise Portals Research) will remain the company's strategic Portal offering. Sun had previously announced a partnership with Liferay for their own version of Portal (called Sun Glassfish Webspace Server) based on Liferay's codebase. Oracle says it will continue to maintain that initiative and contribute  extensions back to the community.
  • Oracle will also retain Open Office and come up with a web-based office suite. There is obvious potential to integrate with Oracle's Content Management suite here.
  • MySQL will become part of a separate Open Source business unit within Oracle. The company discussed plans for some integration between the Oracle database and MySQL, probably in the area of management services.

These announcements did not hold any big surprises. Oracle's approach is edging closer to "everything in a box," something I mentioned on my personal blog last year.  From Oracle's perspective, it gives them an opportunity to align  engineering efforts to make their middleware perform optimally on their hardware and OS.

For customers, it could work both ways -- depending on your exposure to Oracle. On the one hand, you only have to deal with one vendor for support of your entire IT landscape.  But on the other hand, by hedging all your bets on one vendor, you're increasing vendor lock-in.

In his address, Thomas Kurian of Oracle mentioned "...our middleware strategy has been simple and clear..."  Well, if by "simple" Oracle means they will support every acquired product, resulting in a potpourri of applications, it is indeed straightforward.  For customers, the line between "supported" and "promoted and enhanced" is quite important.

As with every acquisitive vendor, Oracle is talking a lot about interoperability among its various components. In fact, Oracle says it will spend $4.3 Billion on R&D in the first year to try to make sure the complete stack delivers. We will be watching, and sharing key advice with our research customers.

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