21 April 2009
Sun and Oracle deal starts battle for software developers
Many of the pundits on the Oracle buys Sun saga have got it wrong, according to Brian Gentile, CEO of open source business intelligence firm Jaspersoft.
"I don't believe that Oracle has any interest in the hardware and systems business long term. They will be looking to line up buyers so they can spin those pieces out," says Gentile.
"When you're addicted to the 90+% gross margins that software delivers, why would you be interested in the hardware and systems market, which delivers half those gross margins?"
And he goes on: "Sun's complete hardware systems business – servers and storage – may even make a nifty IPO, which could net Oracle a gain on the deal if timed and managed well."
His view: Oracle's acquisition of Sun is about one thing: the hearts and minds of the software development community. "Oracle will now have control of the Java programming language and some of the most important development tools built on top of it. This places them at a level of influence that they've not yet wielded and allows them to compete far more strategically with SAP, IBM and Microsoft – Oracle's true competitors," explains Gentile.
But to prevent developers from fleeing to those competitors, Oracle will need a different and more transparent, collaborative approach than it has ever mustered in the past, he warns. "This audience will demand it."
For him, Oracle's priority will be rationalising its new middleware and infrastructure stacks against its existing portfolio – and then making some key decisions about the open source and proprietary products.
"Open source companies and developers need to watch Oracle's moves in the coming weeks and months very closely," he suggests. "The old adage that, with great power comes great responsibility is very relevant here. This will be Oracle's top priority, because it affects the biggest audience and could have a substantial impact on the open source movement in the near term."
As for the MySQL database, he believes that speculation is premature. "While Oracle has plenty of database assets, none garner more appeal with the modern, web-based world than MySQL. Oracle execs will surely understand the most successful use-cases for MySQL and allow it to continue flourishing.
"Where MySQL encroaches on the functionality of Oracle's main database products, the outlook is murkier. The watch word is stay tuned."
IBM (UK) Ltd
Oracle Corporation UK Ltd
SAP (UK) Ltd
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