LOOKS LIKE IBM just lost out; Oracle is buying Sun for $7.4 billion. Before you scratch your head and wonder, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Oracle more than anyone has pinned its app strategy on Java and now the firm doesn't have to go through a middleman to gets its way with the language. There is no wondering what the next rev will bring and no debate, from the Oracle point of view, "It is ours now, step off b*tch". The buy basically guarantees Oracle's code has a custom fitted home.
One big question is what happens to the hardware division of Sun? Does Oracle actually give a rat's hindquarters about SPARC? Given that Marc Tremblay just went to MS last week, we would guess that the chip architects at Sun are furiously polishing up their resumes now. Then again, given the cost of an Oracle license, they could just throw in a free Niagara box with every license.
Non-Java software has a bunch of interesting possibilities too, not the least of which is Open Office. That programme, great though it is, has somewhat languished under Sun. If Sun sales knock on your door and tell you to convert and buy support, you might not be convinced. Oracle, when doing the same, will have borderline violent sales staff making the same promise, but it will be reassuringly expensive as well.
Enterprises love this, especially if they can negotiate away a $10/seat license on OOo when buying several hundred dollars a seat worth of other Oracle wares. They also love an office suite that costs a tenth of MS Office and plays well with their enterprise software. I expect OOo 4.0 to tie in to the Oracle stack quite nicely.
The rest of the software will be incorporated where it makes sense; dropped in places, but more likely than not, simply gifted on an open source consortium.
MySQL will turn into Oracle Starter: Training Wheels Edition, and the middleware will look more and more like the paid for Oracle version with every rev. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and it could make open source more palatable to the Fortune 500 set.
In the end, I think this is a better fit than IBM-Sun. Oracle has a lot more synergies with the guys in the converted asylum than big blue.
I for one will miss the flow of odd and non-conventional things from Sun which will surely not be suitable to the rigid Oracle world view.
That is the price you pay with mergers, much lower than the $9.50 a share that Oracle laid out.µ