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Oracle buys Sun — may jettison MySQL

Apr 20, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Database giant Oracle has agreed to purchase Sun Microsystems in a deal worth $7.4 billion, according to a story in eWEEK. Oracle wants Sun more for its hardware than its software, and may choose to jettison Sun's open source offerings, including MySQL, says eWEEK.

The $7.4 billion deal, or about $9.50 a share, is considerably more than the $6.5 billion that IBM had offered the struggling technology firm before talks broke down earlier this month, notes today's story by Nicholas Kolakowski in our sister publication eWEEK. Sun's board of directors is said to have unanimously approved the transaction, which should close sometime this summer.

The deal brings a huge server and storage business to Oracle, as well as Sun's Java and Solaris, which are both incorporated into Oracle products, says the story. Oracle Fusion Middleware is based on Java, while Solaris is said to be the leading platform for the Oracle database.

Still, whereas IBM was interested in Sun for both its hardware and software, Oracle is really only interested in the hardware, and specifically storage hardware, says a second eWEEK story by Chris Preimesberger. While Oracle may appreciate having control over Java, the company does not see Sun's software as a major revenue generator, says the story. “Any software projects will be discontinued and released back into the open source community,” writes Preimesberger. “Depending upon how Oracle handles it, MySQL could be a minor player inside the company, or it could be set adrift.”

“Mice Nuts” and potential spin-offs

The Linux-compatible, dual-licensed MySQL, which bills itself as “the world's most popular open source database,” was purchased by Sun over a year ago. Other Sun open-source offerings with an uncertain future include the NetBeans software tools, and GlassFish Java application server, says the story. However, Preimesberger quotes Forrester analyst John Rymer as saying that Oracle may hold onto Sun's open-source Java identity authentication software franchise.

He further quotes Rymer as saying that Oracle CEO Charles Phillips has called Sun's software revenue streams “mice nuts,” compared to the rest of the Oracle product line, and suggested that its software was “not interesting, not interesting at all.” Speaking of Sun's open source offerings, Rymer was further quoted as saying, “What'll happen is that these projects will revert back into the open source world, they'll live or die there, and we'll see how good this stuff really is.”

On the other hand, Preimesberger quotes Enterprise Strategy Group storage analyst Brian Babineau as saying “Oracle is very good at making money in open source.” Oracle has resold Red Hat Linux for five years in a deal that “has been very profitable for both companies,” Babineau was quoted as saying. In fact, the company, like IBM, has recently been rumored to be in the hunt to acquire Red Hat.

MySQL however, competes directly with Oracle's database products. “I would expect a capitalistic approach to the MySQL business — whether it is get rid of the R&D and just sell it, or move customers to Oracle DB,” Babineau was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Kolakowski's initial merger story on eWEEK points to an Oracle company statement saying, “Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships.”

This would suggest that Oracle will continue Sun's recent outreach toward Linux, such as offering a Wind River Linux version of its UltraSPARC T2 Reference Design Kit (RDK) in addition to a Solaris version.


The initial eWEEK story by Nicholas Kolakowski, “Oracle Offers to Buy Sun for $7.4 Billion,” may be found here, and the Chris Preimesberger eWEEK story on the merger, “Key to Oracle-Sun Deal: Storage, DB Hardware,” may be found here.

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