ENTERPRISE IT VENDOR Oracle's relationship with the open source software portfolio it bought along with Sun Microsystems appears to be in doubt.
It seems that Oracle is unhappy at Sun's open sauce direction with Solaris 10 ending up as free software. Word on the street is that Oracle wants to move Solaris back to being proprietary and revenue generating. Open Solaris may remain, but the rumour mill claims that Oracle can make some components proprietary and erode developer support.
Oracle director of Solaris product management Dan Roberts said that the plan now is to "deliver value again out of our IP investment, while at the same time measuring that with continuing to deliver Open Solaris in the open."
Oracle's cunning plan for Solaris 10 is to require the purchase of a license after an initial 90-day trial. That is not likely to kill the operating system, but it will certainly make it less popular. However it will mean that Oracle gets more cash from it.
It is all a bit strange. Sun's move towards open source was credited with bringing it back from the brink. If it had not been for the recession and Oracle's protracted buyout damaging Sun's hardware business it would have been okay.
Oracle is a little more excited about Sun's Java products.
IDC recently pointed out that Oracle's software strategy around Java is vital for the outfit's success. There is no doubt that the future success of Java is fundamental to the success of Oracle as a vendor of anything other than databases.
"In fact, IDC believes that Oracle's new strategic initiatives in middleware and applications are more dependent on the viability of Java than was Sun Microsystems' strategy prior to the acquisition," IDC said.
IDC pointed out that it is starting to look as if the relationship between Oracle and the open source components of Sun is looking uneasy. It is not clear, for example, what the future of Open Office will be.
However it is likely that Oracle will keep working with Sun's open source software products. Its cunning plan seems to be to turn itself into a sort of database oriented IBM.
Having Open Office on board means that it can offer businesses a cheap office package as part of its deals.
But whether it will succeed in taking parts of Solaris proprietary again without driving away its open source developement community seems doubtful at best. µ