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21Jan/100

FUD for thought

"To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable,but to be certain is to be ridiculous. " Chinese Proverb

The European Commission today (January 21, 2010) cleared Oracle's agreement to acquire Sun Microsystems. What does it mean for the development community, specifically for the future of Sun's crown jewels: MySQL, OpenOffice, GlassFish EE server, NetBeans... Oracle had almost a year to figure things out.

NetBeansis especially vulnerable given tha Oracle has competing JDeveloper (and Bea Java Dev tool); maybe it will be released as open source project to the community? Rolled into JDeveloper? Discontinued?

Why would Oracle need GlassFish when it already has Bea and Oracle AS? Cannibalization is very likely.

MySQL? Anybody's guess, but I bet that it will be supported and development will continue; maybe will undergo Oracle-ization (for example, replace MySQL procedural extensions - just introduced in version 5.0 - with robust mature PL/SQL). Will it still be free? Given $1 bln Sun had spent acquiring it, and $7+ bln Oracle spent acquiring Sun, it seems plausible to assume that Oracle would try to squeeze some dough out of it. Its own flagship database sales were stung by ascending SQL Server and IBM.. I see PostgreSQL as a winner, the only enterprise capable true open source RDBMS on the market.

Java. Once positioned as a spear at Microsoft's heart; not anymore - the landscape has changed, notably with Google becoming a major player, and Microsoft wisely playing its cards by releasing C# as open standard. Yet, I do not see Oracle donating Java to the open source community, most likely we'll see variations of Sun's controlled "Community Development Process". Oracle made significant investment into Java, supporting it inside its products, and even creating its own IDE... but what is going to happen to infant JavaFX ? RIA market is getting saturated - Flash/FlexSilverlight, AJAX (and Ajax support frameworks such as GWT)... Apache Pivot looks darn promising..  Will Oracle have enough resources to spread around?

Solaris. SUN's very own implementation of Unix operating system, arguable the best out there, AIX and HP-UX market penetration notwithstanding. For a long time Oracle and Solaris were inseparable; if an Oracle DBA did not run his database on Solaris he was somewhat deemed less competent. Then Linux came of age, and Oracle made huge bet on it (remember "Linux makes Oracle Unbreakable!",or  was it other way around?). Now they OWN the platform that they flagship database was designed for. Will they ditch Linux? Unlikely. Linux is on upswing, it is robust, reliable and has enterprise level support. Will Oracle push Solaris? Not exactly their domain of expertise, and market of operating systems is not as lucrative as it used to be. Then there is issue of the Sun's proprietary hardware - hugely overpriced, increasingly obsolete... Sun recognized that they cannot charge premium prices for the hardware that is becoming a commodity, and released x86 version of Solaris; it flopped (why x86 Solaris when I can run x86 Linux?). Apple seems to be able to create perception of superiority of both software (Mac OS) and hardware (Apple), but I credit Steve Jobs for it (to support my suspicion, follow the ups and downs of Apple stock plotted against timeline of Steve's health news; also, reliability of Apple laptops lags that of Asus , Toshiba and Sony - yet there is unshakeable perception that Mac is light years ahead of lowly PC... yalk about selling sizzle!)

My bet is that Solaris will be retired over period of time in favour of Linux.... R.I.P.

NB: FUD  - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt