In Sun, Oracle Sees a Software Gem

Oracle’s bid of $7.4 billion for Sun promises to make Oracle a more formidable competitor in the lucrative market for corporate computing.

Comments: 50

  1. seems like a good move to me. As people continue to move to open source databases and server OSes, why not combine two of the last dying giants in a game they can't win.

  2. Interesting comments, Dan from Earth. MySQL happens to be the most prolific open source rdbms on the planet. Sun owns the rights to it. Java, the most widely used programming language across the open source community, is a Sun creation. Oracle needs this more than anybody.

  3. Sun bought MySQL last year, and now Oracle owns Sun. I wonder how MySQL and Oracle will compete for the DB market now.

  4. Unfortunately this surely means more layoffs of Sun staff. Sorry for those people who will lose their jobs because of this, regardless of the business sense of the acquisition.

  5. I like the Sun/Oracle fit a lot better than the Sun/IBM fit. Much of Sun would have disappeared if IBM had bought it. With the Oracle deal Sun will most likely continue to develop improve its hardware and OS, and that's a good thing.

  6. I guess - this outcome is better for customers and developers, because I have sad experience with IBM - they bought company that produceed SPARC virtualization solutions for running SPAR programs on workstation and after this - IBM ceased this product line - to press customers to use their servers. I am almost confident and I hope that Oracle will keep Netbeans development environment, Sun applications server, MySQL databse open and support their development communities (Oracle already his good record of not closing products of their acquision) and I hope that Oracle will be committed to development of Java specifications and reference implementation as Sun was. Besides - I can say only good words about Oracle support for education - excellent documentation and trial programs, as opposite to IBM Mainframe technologies.

  7. I remember when Oracle bought Peoplesoft. Nobody from the company said much about layoffs until after the deal was made, then a large portion of Peoplesoft's employees were out of a job. I hope that is not the model they follow this time around.

  8. I'm a former Sun employee, and pretty familiar with Oracle, too. This deal combines the brains of the stegosauraus with the agility of the diplodocus.

  9. Hardware is a very low margin business, i guess it was a golden opportunity for Oracle to acquire a proven vendor, and now they can bundle the hardware and software to undercut the rivals big time.
    I foresee atleast 5 to 10,000 layoffs in the next 3 months at SUN.

  10. I always thought that IBM would buy Sun. Oracle may be able to do bundle deals with the Sun hardware, but it still makes more sense for them to help sell Dell and HP blades.

    Ultimately this acquisition will be seen as $7.4B for Java.

    And what about the pony tail boy? How long will he last?

  11. I don't see Oracle packing boxes and doing cables on a customer site. I assume the HW business is going to go, maybe towards Lenovo. Larry will keep, what he needs to develop into the direction of massive parallel systems and storage.

    Java and MySQL are, what he's after, but don't expect a public domain db to be heavily sponsored by a company, that on the commercial db still has half of its licence revenue and 70%+ margin on the support business for it.

  12. While Oracle might see some appeal coupling servers to database software, it has inherited a liability with Sun's storage component. Unreliable disk products are more than a nuisance to the large databases they hold. Watch for the storage division to be dropped into the porcelain tube and a host of people fired.

  13. Sun has traditionally had great products so I hope that this works out, but somehow I was expecting Cisco to be the company that would step in and play the white knight.

  14. This is another bad move for Oracle. But I love to see Oracle picked up a dead corpse, as it is preparing coffin for himself. In the enterprise application development world, more and more people is picking up Microsoft .NET and SQL Server database, because its relatively low cost and easy maintainence. On the other hand, Oracle's enterprise applications have unfriendly interface, are so hard to use and running extremely slow. In our large organization, Oracle application server is always down several time in a week.

  15. As MySQL is GPL software, Oracle owns the copyright to the code, but can't stop anyone from forking the code. So, if they try to kill off MySQL, someone will take the existing code and keep developing it and making it freely avaiable (such as the original developers who have already left SUN). The one thing that a new developer cannot do is sell an alternate license for the code. Only the copyright owner of 100% of the code can do that (which is SUN currently), and this is how most of the money was generated from MySQL.

  16. Few mergers deliver on what is promised at the time they are announced (think Daimler-Benz and Chrysler or AOl and Time Warner). The Oracle-Sun deal is disruptive (which sometimes is a good thing) but how this will play out is anyone's guess.

    See an in-depth analysis at

  17. For me, and others in database technology, this is very bad news. Oracle is not a good match with Sun. They are completely divergent in thinking and business modeling. Sun is open and innovative. Oracle is just aggressive.

    My concern is for MySQL a database programming language, free and open source. Many web databases - data warehouses are built with it. You pay for the cost of production only.

    Oracle's database language, OracleSQL is expensive, expensive to learn, expensive to maintain - because you have to pay those "consultants."

    Oracle the company and the database and its sales/database engineers, have tanked many companies including the State of California with egregiously over priced database construction.

    If you get hooked with Oracle, you are not going to be able to migrate out.

    The SEC should prevent the merger from affecting Sun's software division. Please.

    Sun has written fantastic code in Java.

    Sun makes its Office Suite free!!!

    Yes, a complete set of Office software that competes point for point with Microsoft is entirely free.

    Sun has allowed technologists from all over the world to advance their skills by making their software open source.
    Sun not Oracle has advanced the world with technology.

    I don't know what went wrong with the IBM deal. I was so hoping it was going to be reoffered. I am a fan of IBM.

    Both Oracle and IBM are great at laying people off. In the Bay Area now, this day, there is speculation that there will fewer layoffs if IBM had acquired Sun.

    Final Note, Oracle is not good at hardware. They tried long ago with the Network computers. Sun uses these in their operations.

    That is what we will see maybe is a correction of Oracles' former network computer mistakes.

  18. Oracle and MySQL are probably the two most used DB software. Would this come under the 'monopoly' scanner?

  19. This is bad news on several fronts. First, now that Oracle owns MySQL, expect Oracle to either start charging for it or force it out of existence. Oracle's true free competition, mainly because of the high price Oracle charges for its database software, was MySQL. While MySQL was not as full featured as Oracle; it was not bloated wither and it does the job well. I would expect a number of sites moving to Postgreqsl in the future. Just think all those web sites which will have to move to a new database engine, because Oracle will most likely kill off MySQL. Makes one wonder if Oracle will also charge for JAVA and OpenOffice/StarOffice (alternative to Microsoft Office).

    Now that Oracle owns Sun, what will a database company do with a server company? It is one thing to buy Peoplesoft; it is quite another to buy a hardware and operating system vendor. It is quite possible that Oracle wanted the software components of Sun (MySQL, JAVA, OpenOffice, StarOffice); thus the Sun hardware Solaris operating future could be called into question. Sun was already hurting by losing a lot of business to Linux, thus may hasten it. It was not long ago that HP acquired Compaq to obtain cluster technology from Digital Equipment Corporations' Tru64 UNIX (which HP failed to integrate), as well as customer support operations (which HP off shored anyway), and keeping around OpenVMS (the operating system that wouldn't die, but has had more lives than the Cheshire Cat (it's mascot).

    So, Dell, IBM, HP and now Cisco may end up being the final hardware vendors in this. Linux may emerge as the predominant operating system. Postgresql may become the open source database of choice and Solaris may join other operating systems on the dustbin of history.

    And for jobs? Well, expect a lot of people who worked in Suns Solaris and hardware areas to be looking for new work. Support fro Sun products will end up more in India. This is a big blow to IT workers in the United States, in what already is a bad situation in the current economy. In addition to jobs, this takeover will have a huge impact on those who depended on the Open Source software provided by Sun, as noted above.

  20. MySql is now dead.

  21. Its great to see a real database company take over MySQL. Whether MySQL survives as a standalone title or just a name for an entry level product from Oracle, business owners will benefit from the fact that Oracle is too proud to leave MySQL untouched with it sorry data types and poor programmability. The real question is at what price will MySQL be available in the future and will that price remain lower than a fulltime developer who holds a company’s onerous MySQL tiger by the tail.

  22. The database license itself is a small component of Oracle Sales. Most revenue is based on services provided around the license.

    So Oracle must reposition itself as the vendor of choice for those seeking MySQL services - consulting, training, etc. This shouldn't be too hard, given the existing corporate infrastructure. So MySQL may or may not see declining support, depending on how customers react to Oracle's MySQL releases.

    As for the belief that hardware is "low margin" -- that only applies to commodity hardware. Is Oracle/Sun capable of hardware innovation? So far, their track record is poor. The interesting hardware they've developed hasn't found a sufficiently large market to justify a company of their size. Sun's original innovation was centered around UNIX/hardware. Sadly, I think we will not be seeing much more hardware innovation from them.

    So my impression is that this is a huge positive move into the database market, and an equally huge blow to hardware innovation.

  23. I have worked for one of these companies and consulted with the other. Looks like everyone in the forum has a pretty good idea of what to expect for Sun -- that is, possible survival for the non-hardware part of the company, disaster for the people and their value set exemplified in, among other things, SunLabs.

    It is also bad news for telco operators looking for a seamless unity of mobile OS, intelligent end devices, and the infrastructural network that makes new iPhone killer apps possible.

    And it is a triumph for the merciless, Top Gun salesmen-driven culture of Oracle. To learn more about that all you have to do is look an inch deep into Larry Ellison's personal life and the workplace practices of his managers.

  24. Those saying that MySQL is dead don't understand the copyleft principle at work under the GNU General Public License (GPL). You can't "kill off" GPL software. Once the code is released as such, ANYONE can make modifications to it, and these modifications legally (under the terms of the GPL) have to be publicly released if money is made off of the changes (only SUN would not be bound to this as they hold the copyright all of the current code).

    This is how open source software works. There are other licenses that work similarly, with some not requiring that changes be publicly published (like BSD), i.e. you can turn that code into private code. OpenSSH is a project that was forked from the last truly free version of the original SSH code, when the original author changed the license of the code to be closed. The OpenSSH team took the free code and developed it on their own and is now extremely popular. The original author was not happy with this as his company has a non-free competing product, but this is all very legal.

    Once you make your code open source, such as MySQL, you give up having total control of it.

  25. Larry Ellison finally won. He has been after Sun for as long as I can remember. The real question is, "Is there anything left to save?"

  26. Goodbye Sun hardware. We now have two microprocessor architectures left, Intel and IBM. By Christmas Oracle will take a flame thrower to the hardware design business. Sun will be come a white box company.

  27. MySql is now dead — Blake

    No, as DA says, MySQL is GPL software.

    I think it's Java that's a goner, especially if big user Wall Street ever has to face the music.

  28. at the end , sun never truly free java.

  29. I don't know what it means :-/

    All I know is that software development in Oracle is cheaper than hyperadvertized MS SQL. I worked on both and got tired of crappy documented MS SQL. Organization saves money in tonnes when Oracle is running silently and developers/users are sure that programs work. Thus, overall it is cheaper and ppl like me live better.. cannot forget those 2am (3 different clients.!) with MS technologies becauuse you keep debugging MS programs or keep searching documentation (in 2gb of pile of dump called msdn) instead of developing anything meaningful. MS technology is designed just to write "hello world" program. beyond that it is useles.

  30. And so now Oracle will control MySQL - goodbye freebie?

  31. Dear Ms. ASHLEE VANCE,

    Well, as companies are shrinking and jobs are getting lesser and lesser everyday, it is good for big giants companies like Sun Microsystems and Oracle to come together and act as a single company, from now onwards.

    But this is not good for job seekers, I think there will be shortage of jobs in the days ahead.

    As Oracle is mainly known for database and storage, it is good that it will acquire now, Sun. But time will tell what the future holds for many highly experienced and well-educated job seekers in silicon valley.

    Let us hope this deal will boost more projects and more workforce in the days to come.

    God bless you all !

  32. What irony.

    Hardware used to be a high margin business.

    My former employer, a 'poineer' and by history the first major customer of SUN, used to give its software away, relying on the income from computers and peripherals to make it once a Wall Street 'high-flyer'.

    Then came the competition...

    As opposed to the 1970's when a CAD system' 'per seat' cost ran into the hundreds of thousands, there's now software tha 'plugs into' an ordinary PC that has much greater capability than what we sold.

    Pioneers come and go. Sun is but the latest.

  33. Oracle owns MySQL, my favorite open source software! And I thought global warming was bad!

  34. DA,

    You are correct on the GPL licensing, however, it does not mean it will stay that way. Oracle will find a way to release new versions of MySQL and orphaning the open MySQL. Eventually, Oracle will find a way to modify the MySQL license to the point that it will become unusable in a production environment. I cite Tripwire as a glaring example of software which was free and open software which ended up becoming available for only one host at any given site. It was already scary when Sun bought MySQL; it is even more scary now that Oracle bought Sun.

    Oracle, with the help of lawyers, will find a way to take MySQL, JAVA and OpenOffice and turn it into a per cost licensed product. MySQL has a good alternative in postgresql. JAVA is on virtually every web site, PC and server; only time will tell on this one. OpenOffice has proven to be a great alternative to Microsoft Office and a boost for Linux; but if Oracle decides to release a maintained OpenOffice for purchase only, it would set the Open Software community scrambling to create another Office application. However, it may not affect Linux deployments, as Solaris is heading the same way as SunOS, Tru64, ULTRIX, TOPS-10, TOPS-20, Data General UNIX, etc.

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  36. (MySQl -> TheirSQL) => Extinction!

  37. MySQL is a very small piece here, it is changing the pricing for multi-core and virtualized servers. Oracle can make Sun hardware much more desirable with lower licensing costs with Solaris. Sun is run on Oracle software, this will make the acquisition much easier than with IBM. 60% of Sun's install base will be end of life by the end of this year, this opens up more revenue opportunities as well. As for employees, Sun has yet to finish the layoff they started this fiscal year (3,000 still to be gone.) Expect another 5,000 or so before the merger is finalized and another 5,000 after that.

  38. Peering into the sun the oracle saw.... software. This headline made me realize how much more appealing it is to mystify modern life than really understand it in all its mundane convolution. No, I didn't read the article.

  39. Adil,

    You are mixing up MS SQL with MySQL, these are two different products. Though, your assertion about MS SQL is correct.MySQL is an open source database environment which is mainly used by small e-commerce web sites, educational institutions and non-profit organizations as back ends for their web deployments and other applications. MySQL is used, because it its InnoDB database format is almost on par with Oracle, and its database engine is very powerful, without all the fluff which Oracle has in their flagship database product. The joke at Digital Equipment Corporation was that Oracle a great way to sell servers.

    Let's hope that the Open Source community, and those who rely on MySQL, make a loud noise to our so called "representatives" in Congress to make sure that Oracle does not create a monopoly.

    As for job losses, it is going to get nasty here in Colorado when Sun and Oracle start letting people go; added to the job losses we have with the economy and those at IBM. Colorado may be joining California in the double digit unemployment club. At least there will be more employed people in India.

  40. PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel, Hyperion, BEA all under Oracle and now Sun. Oracle is making decent profits because all the customers using PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel, Hyperion and BEA products still use them they are best of breed. Oracle has not found a way to integrate the three Enterprise suites Oracle Eapps/PeopleSoft/JD Edwards. The proposed unified ERP (con)Fusion suite is going no where. Expect these customers to hang on to their products as Oracle built products have pathetic user interfaces.

    Now SUN! Sure there's the great Java and beautiful MySQL. Oracle has no use for MySQL since it wants to own the Lunix database market with ORacle databases. This is probably a great news for Steve Ballmer as more customers will go over to .NET and SQL Server 2008 which can now compete with Oracle 11G and is cheaper. MS has a leg up with the integrated .NET/SQL Server/SharePoint/Excel/Analytic Services that works great together. Java could make money, but what about Sun HW? Sun cluster sucks and no one in their right mind will pay for Open Office. It's all RED flags for me. It's great opportunity for another company to offer competing enterprise software on open source plafforms that's simple to use and maintain. MicroSoft could use this time to get into ERP and be a very strong competitor.

  41. Speculation here:
    Does this mean good news for Microsoft if Oracle has acquired MySQL?

  42. I know it is a minor point in this merger but I surely hope Open Office survives. Much more flexible than MS Office IMHO, doesn't demand the system resources as does MS.

  43. 10,000 job cuts. Isn't that just wonderful?

  44. The overlapping identity management product could be on the chopping block as well. I wonder why Fusion is taking so long to come out.

  45. First, MYSQL is not dead. Anyone who thinks that simply doesn't understand how open source projects work. Oracle has been a reasonably good steward for BerkeleyDB, which they acquired a couple of years ago. Oracle's sales team can make as much money selling professional services for MySQL as they can for Oracle 11g, so there is no reason for them to give it up.

    As one of Sun's first ISVs in 1984, I have long and pleasant memories of working with Sun, including an all-expenses paid trip to the 1994 World Cup finals in LA. By contrast, Oracle doesn't have a very good reputation as a partner.

    Oracle has the soul of a software company, while Sun has the soul of a systems company. Oracle should be able to capitalize on Sun's software assets better than Sun has done, but I fully expect Oracle to sell off part or all of the hardware biz, perhaps to Fujitsu or Cisco.

  46. The folks at Sun better start bailing out fast. There will be nothing left of Sun in 6 months.

    Perhaps I should track down a nice old 3/80 with 4.1.4 and remember the best of the workstation era...

  47. I'm a Sun employee, working on the hardware side of things. From my point of view, this is just about the best outcome I could have hoped for. Yes, there will be layoffs. But that's going to happen in any case, and if we'd been acquired by another computer manufacturer, they would have discontinued a lot of our product line, possibly including the products I work on. But now we're being taken over by a company that's shown more than a little interest in these products, and has the resources to market them properly.

    Depending on what they, I'm sure there are a lot of Sun employees who have reason to worry about the future. But personally, I feel a lot better than I have in a while, not just about my own future, but about the future of initiatives I've worked hard on.

  48. Larry Ellison is NOT a friend of MS.
    To not maintain and strengthen ALL the software products acquired from SUN would be like handing MS a huge chunk of the market.
    To sell off or spin off the hardware business makes the most sense as they are not a hardware company.
    Margins are to thin ,R&D is only going up.
    Merge Solaris and Linux with ZFS optimized for the datacenter and really give MS a kick to the nuts.
    His version of Linux would outsell Novell and Redhat.
    Totally change the face of Oracle the company.
    If components of Open Office were beefed up again MS takes a direct hit.
    MySQL cannot and will not die.

  49. According to, 780 million shares of Sun were traded today - but there are only 740 million shares outstanding, and roughly 75% are held by either insiders or institutional investors. It looks like 176 million were sold the minute the market opened, and that the share price fluctuated very little throughout the day ($9.06 to 9.23). The Oracle offer works out to $9.50/share. So what gives?? Is this normal for this situation? There were supposedly 22 million shares short.

  50. I think a lot of people are talking too much about ability of Oracle to be a "systems" player with hardware and software under one roof. A very interesting alternate strategy would be to sell off the hardware and solaris business to someone else (a private equity firm would be best IMHO) and focus on Java/MySQL and the good engineers that came with the deal. Run that at a substantially higher margin and continue to keep Oracle stack to be evenly balanced for Linux & Solaris alike.