Sun Microsystems has been bought by Oracle. Any such major acquisition means that it’s time for all tech media to speculate on the future of the merger and of the products affected. Below are my 2 cents.
- Java – While many think of Oracle as a database company, the fact is that Oracle is deeply invested in Java and it’s Fusion Middleware stack is built on Java. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in his post acquisition call has stated that “Java is the single most important software asset we have ever acquired.” So it’s highly unlikely that Oracle will put Java on the back burner and not invest in the growth of Java.
- Solaris – Over the past couple of years, Oracle has had a major Linux push. Oracle Magazine has had penguins featured on its cover and Oracle Unbreakable Linux has been one of it’s top marketing lines. Post acquisition, Oracle has stated that it will be as committed as ever to Linux. Oracle says “The Sun Solaris operating system is the leading platform for the Oracle database. With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle can optimize the Oracle database for some of the unique, high-end features of Solaris.” So Solaris will do ok, but I think Oracle is too far down the Linux path to now make Solaris its preferred OS.
- MySQL – The acquisition FAQ in reply to the question “What does Oracle plan to do with MySQL?” says “MySQL will be an addition to Oracle’s existing suite of database products, which already includes Oracle Database 11g, TimesTen, Berkeley DB open source database, and the open source transactional storage engine, InnoDB.” Unlike answers about Sun’s hardware business, in case of MySQL, Oracle does not talk of being committed the growth of MySQL or long term focus on MySQL, etc. The future of MySQL at Oracle doesn’t look very bright. However if the MySQL licence doesn’t make it financially impossible, a MySQL fork could emerge and gain some traction. MySQL has been forked before but the forks never got much developer attention.
- IDE – Until a few years back, JDeveloper was a great alternative IDE to Netbeans and Eclipse based IDEs. However lately JDeveloper seems to have become a tool that works best for Oracle products and delivers solutions that Oracle app customers want. It seems like it no longer wants to compete in the Java IDE space. So JDeveloper hasn’t introduced much of scripting language support although most other IDEs have been rushing to provide scripting language and framework support. Oracle already has two Java development tools on hand in JDeveloper and Workshop (formerly BEA Workshop) and adding NetBeans to the equation is going to further complicate things for Oracle. I would think that JDeveloper will consciously move further away from the hardcore Java crowd and be customized for traditional Oracle Apps and Oracle Developer developers, while NetBeans and Workshop will focus on the geeky Java enthusiasts. For NetBeans lovers, I guess Sun being acquired by Oracle is better than it being acquired by IBM.
- JavaME – Java on mobile devices has been doing quite well and I would expect Oracle to put as much into JavaME as Sun.
- JavaFX – Oracle doesn’t have a competing GUI & graphics technology, however Oracle also doesn’t seem to be very interested in that space. I would expect Oracle to continue to support JavaFX for the time being but truly process JavaFX maybe a year from now, when it would have come to terms with the Sun acquisition.
- Sun Hardware – There’s already speculation about Oracle selling off Sun’s hardware business to Fujitsu. This does look likely.
- OpenSource – Oracle is primarily a builder of proprietary products and even the products that Oracle gives away for free, like JDeveloper and the Express DB are not open source. So although the Sun teams will bring an open source culture with them, Oracle is unlikely to become a big supporter of open source.
- Image – Oracle is a mega company with many brilliant people working for it. However Oracle doesn’t have a geeky culture or image, and unlike many other companies in the Java space, Oracle isn’t one to come with cool open source products that seem to have no immediate buyers. For example, Oracle is unlikely to invest the amount of time and effort that Sun put into building a new GUI technology from scratch, JavaFX. Oracle products mostly solve problems for its paying customers. The focus is on being solid and reliable and not on being cool. Boring but effective.
Overall, I think Sun being acquired by Oracle is good news, as a struggling Sun would not be good for Java and for the Java based software industry. Oracle has the muscle to invest in the growth of various Sun technologies and ensure that they perform to their potential. A new owner should also bring new ideas & excitement to Java.