Oracle Impact On Java, Solaris, MySQL, NetBeans & Sun Open Source

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. JavaME – Java on mobile devices has been doing quite well and I would expect Oracle to put as much into JavaME as Sun.
  6. 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.
  7. Sun Hardware – There’s already speculation about Oracle selling off Sun’s hardware business to Fujitsu. This does look likely.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Harshad Oak

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Harshad Oak
Harshad Oak is the founder of Rightrix Solutions & IndicThreads. He is the author of 3 books and several articles on Java technology. For his contributions to technology and the community, he has been recognized as an Oracle ACE Director and a Sun Java Champion. Contact - harshad aT rightrix doT com & @HarshadOak
Harshad Oak

Harshad Oak

Harshad Oak is the founder of Rightrix Solutions & IndicThreads. He is the author of 3 books and several articles on Java technology. For his contributions to technology and the community, he has been recognized as an Oracle ACE Director and a Sun Java Champion. Contact - harshad aT rightrix doT com & @HarshadOak

  • Bsdsolarux

    -without Sun Hardware we’re all stuck in an IBM-only world with expensive PC-Scrap for servers.
    -without Solaris, no final completeion of ZFS -the Universal FS, the one and ONLY real UNIX OS.
    -and don’t even mention the utter-destruction that Oracle casued on all the other “Open”… sun stuff.
    Just those above “axes” show what Oracle really is -> Steve Baumer’s other evil brother.

    From ’99 -> 2007, I worked in the very best of transaction/database server environments, and ALL of them used “Sun Solaris (Hardware and OS)/Oracle” -and why was that ?
    Oh wait, back in 2003, we did try blowing $250,000 on 6 IBM servers on RedFart Enterprise 3 servers running Oracle, and they were G-A-R-B-A-G-E, and ya I don’t mean FIFO here, I mean GIGO 🙁 and yes, that ediot CEO was fired 🙂
    We quickly turned the Sun E10K mainframe back on and NEVER looked back. Those crappy IBM Enterprise eServers ended up shoveling VMware, on WinBlows/Linux apache web-servers, -just for the development department.
    CentOS now, for gawd sakes, is much better than RedFat Linux.

    So what am I saying ?,
    Oracle is a just yet another fat predatory Corp, and Sun alone caused their own demise, Sun blew it, and had to pay off their greedy stock-holders, …, …
    But don’t kid yourself, there was/is nothing good about this and never will be.
    Sun’s Hardware was bar none, the finest quality, a bit too expensive, but hey you get what u pay for.
    So lets just put our collective heads back in the Clouds with our Androids, and be forced to pay for constant upgrades for “suicide” chips :), ok Junior ?

    Rickster.

  • MadInBoston

    I’m not sure its so easy to agree with you about Netbeans. Previously, the UML plugin for netbeans used to work up to about version. 6.5-6.7. In 6.9 you must evidently use JDeveloper to get this functionality. Even though its free now, as Netbeans has been, its unclear which will be the community fork, and is Netbeans to wither from here? It would seem that Oracle has decided to turn Java into a closed language rather than demonstrate that they will permit a two way flow in the Java Community Process. Nothing they can say about Java’s “openness” will be secure until they settle this issue to what extent will there be an open community version of their Java development environment.

    Instead of contributing to the community it seems that Oracle’s new efforts to steer are rapidly becoming rather heavy at the wheel, to the point that down the road it will not at all be at all clear if developers who develop within the Java Paradigm may or may not have licensing or expensing issues that they will be continually have to work out with Oracle, every time the write a line of code using Java from now on. The situation with Java and UML is another example. Much has fallen off the wheelbarrow since Scott McNeally sold out his fellow investors and Java enthusiasts. One of the things that seems perhaps may have fallen out , I’m no longer sure, is there is promise. Perhaps it never really there since McNeally for all his talking, never could make much out of it.

    As far as I can tell JDeveloper is written based on Netbeans, they just branded parts of it and called it JDeveloper. Right now it seems there may be antitrust issues in taking a community project and then privatizing it, just when you have completed an acquisition that essentially buys out the competition providing Oracle with essentially a monopoly on code that was largely community driven. Particularly, when they buy out the community development team at Sun that operated on a more two way street with the Java Community.

    Perhaps they can pull this off, while also eliminating alternate open-Java standards specifications that were put in place under Sun’s tutelage of Java. But it looks difficult to see how the language can maintain promise, when behind every line of code is now a potential financial fork, being stuck into the sides of its developers and then a sharp Oracle knife seems to want to slice off a piece. With the economy the way it is, I suspect many Java developers are like me, getting rather thin as it is.

    Seems to me if Oracle is not interested in improving the community Java development process with significant freedoms for developers, then the language will eventually die. Perhaps this was what James Gosling was complaining about. But perhaps they can pull it off since they are now paying the salaries of Nebteans developers, or at least some of them. The only real question is what for? Maybe Google would be interested in asking the government to look into it. It seems there are a lot of nebulous interests surrounding Java these days, particularly now that Larry Ellison says its the most import purchase he ever made. I suspect that will be true only if he doesn’t kill the goose that laid the golden-egg while he seems to be busy roasting it.

    Its all very confusing as to what is going on. I suspect the bean counters at Oracle are trying to figure out what part of the Java standards process they can privatize and commoditize java development, while at the same time trying to goose that laid the golden egg alive while they are roasting it. Kind of sad as when you realize that so many worthy non-profits and third world countries had been relying on the open aspects of Java just to survive.

    Although you call it a good thing, I seem to be faced with a conundrum of being forced to abandon Java altogether because I wont’ be able to afford it as a development platform solution, even that was what the promise of Java was from the beginning.

    I do have to say JDeveloper [netbeans] has some impressive features, but wonder if I dare use them. The IBM lawyers are probably adding shifts to figure out the same thing, with respect to other parts of the Java development process. At least with Eclipse they can push off the time of reckoning a bit longer than Java community developers. The question is which way will they go and how will they license generated code going forward.

  • Chief Executive Larry Ellison dispelled speculation that he will divest the hardware business of Sun Microsystems.

    “We are definitely not going to exit the hardware business,” Ellison said in an email interview with Reuters. “If a company designs both hardware and software, it can build much better systems than if they only design the software. That’s why Apple’s iPhone is so much better than Microsoft phones.”

    Ellison also said he plans to boost investment in Sun’s SPARC high-end line of microprocessors, which it uses in its Unix computers.

    source- http://bit.ly/FLLvF

  • Chief Executive Larry Ellison dispelled speculation that he will divest the hardware business of Sun Microsystems.

    “We are definitely not going to exit the hardware business,” Ellison said in an email interview with Reuters. “If a company designs both hardware and software, it can build much better systems than if they only design the software. That’s why Apple’s iPhone is so much better than Microsoft phones.”

    Ellison also said he plans to boost investment in Sun’s SPARC high-end line of microprocessors, which it uses in its Unix computers.

    source- http://bit.ly/FLLvF

  • rocko

    If the Java platform can get another 5 years of funding or so, it’s a good thing. I don’t think that the NetBeans platform (which is just the RCP core) will die anytime soon. There’s simply no other pure Java platform that competes with it (Eclipse is not pure Java). It would be nice if Oracle would step up to the plate and continue to invest at least in the top NetBeans improvement efforts. As far as using .Net I think that makes no sense at all.

  • rocko

    If the Java platform can get another 5 years of funding or so, it’s a good thing. I don’t think that the NetBeans platform (which is just the RCP core) will die anytime soon. There’s simply no other pure Java platform that competes with it (Eclipse is not pure Java). It would be nice if Oracle would step up to the plate and continue to invest at least in the top NetBeans improvement efforts. As far as using .Net I think that makes no sense at all.

  • Julio Misael

    What feels it can happen with openoffice?

  • Julio Misael

    What feels it can happen with openoffice?

    • Bsdsolarux

      ..it’s now called “LibreOffice”
      🙂

  • dedde

    I foresee Oracle will monetize next version of Java EE.
    Angry developers will find alternatives. This make Microsoft.NET a winner.

  • dedde

    I foresee Oracle will monetize next version of Java EE.
    Angry developers will find alternatives. This make Microsoft.NET a winner.

  • With all of this, I was thinking whether Oracle will cause decrease in the fee of SUN certification exams. Just as a thought…

  • With all of this, I was thinking whether Oracle will cause decrease in the fee of SUN certification exams. Just as a thought…

  • harshad

    Thanks sbeam and Tahir.

    I don’t quite think that Oracle buying Sun would seriously impact or hurt IBM or any other major Java player.

    I do not expect Oracle to terminate or tamper with the JCP or any of the other democratic and fairly open processes by which Java is currently developed and managed.

  • harshad

    Thanks sbeam and Tahir.

    I don’t quite think that Oracle buying Sun would seriously impact or hurt IBM or any other major Java player.

    I do not expect Oracle to terminate or tamper with the JCP or any of the other democratic and fairly open processes by which Java is currently developed and managed.

  • great analysis, but RE Java you left out what seems to me to be an important factor. A lot of Oracle’s competitors (primarily IBM) have a lot of their eggs in the Java basket. You can bet they are pooping themselves now that Oracle is in the driver seat. It does not pay to be an Oracle competitor and to be beholden to them in any way. And you are right that the culture at Oracle is unlikely to nurture and sponsor open-source the same way. So this is very bad news for Java….

  • great analysis, but RE Java you left out what seems to me to be an important factor. A lot of Oracle’s competitors (primarily IBM) have a lot of their eggs in the Java basket. You can bet they are pooping themselves now that Oracle is in the driver seat. It does not pay to be an Oracle competitor and to be beholden to them in any way. And you are right that the culture at Oracle is unlikely to nurture and sponsor open-source the same way. So this is very bad news for Java….

  • Insightful analysis of SUN acquisition.

  • Insightful analysis of SUN acquisition.