I have to admit, it was quite a shock! I was enjoying my last easter holiday day off, in the sunny center of Athens, when eventually I had a quick look on my emails. Lots of replies in the Java Champions mailing list, the subject? 'Oracle buys Sun'.
Thousands of students over the last decades have learn to identity the trademark of Sun since the very beginning of their IT student life. Either it was a Solaris terminal, or some huge Sun SPARC mainframes in the labs or some others like me writing their first Hello world in Java, the sign was already there!
Eventually, Sun never managed to recover ( you must have red that line millions of times of the the last years) the INTERNET boom crash. After this point the countdown clock started ticking and eventually the alarm was on today. No Snoozing..this time.
Anyway, many will say about the mistakes of Sun Marketing, mistakes on how they never managed to make use (marketing wise) of the Java technology stack despite the fact J2EE is the dominant enterprise software stack all over the world, on how they never managed to promote properly their hardware inventions or open source soon enough Solaris and Java, before competitors take off! Well, this is the past, and today...Sun has been eclipsed!
I am not a financial expert, maybe I am bit biased towards Sun, maybe I really think the Sun Trademark as a quite important trademark for my career, how can I say 'ubber geek' thing! Maybe I had some special times in my career log book with Sun, the Hellenic Java User group, Java Champions program, the Java One experience ...the Java momentum but I think Sun was sold for too little. Then again this is just me. 7.4 billion dollars maybe are not enough for my perception of the Intellectual property this company holds.So Oracle won quite a lot for too little!
I know analysts take a look on sales, revenue streams, future revenue streams and other factors but we are talking about a company that really helped on powering up on what we now call the enterprise software world from hardware to software level ' at least in my days'.
There is a lot of heat on the internet about the next day and the survining product lines. Oracle is known for swallowing big chunks of technology through acquisitions and then just...make them dissappear, so what happens next?
This is a list of my personal assumptions.
1. Oracle never had hardware expertize, always relying on other vendors either Sun or Intel based Server technologies. Now they have a complete hardware technology stack not only putting large mainframes and configuring them, they have a unique I.P on specific chip designs ' the SPARC family'. Sun has been for years maintaining 2 lines of servers one for SPARC which was known that Solaris was (quite optimized by default) and one for Intel based chips. Oracle can utilize this expertize and provide highly optimized systems (their database I suppose) up to the hardware chip level! I dont see SPARC technology vanishing, at least for the recent years, it would be quite a decision though if they decide to stop this line and continue on the Intel line. So, I assume the hardware business of Sun will continue to operate at least for now, Oracle will think for sure droping the SPARC technology or putting some more money. She will have to support the current customers as well.
2. Oracle never had its own operating system. For years they were developing on Solaris, for years Oracle was supporting Solaris, Oracle was performing quite good on it. Now they have a very decent server OS, they dont care about the desktop (at least for now). I feel that great push and great days are coming for Solaris. I dont know what is going to happen on Open Solaris , thats a managerial decision for Oracle. I suspect that the Oracle Linux distro will continue to exist but most probably it will be a second class citizen marketing and development wise! I would be suprised if the opposite happened, meaning facing off Solaris and pushing some more on their Linux distro. So I speculate Solaris is safe, and looking good!
3. MySQL. Many will say that Oracle bought Sun just because of MySQL. I will not agree! Yes MySQL was giving Oracle for years now a headache, it was the database that was gaining more small to minimum size installation, it was the database that was making the Oracle DB look too BIG and too expensive! Now they have it, and I would be surprised if the killed it! I assume, It is not going to hurt the big Oracle DB business, it is going to add complimentary to the Oracle portfolio.It will be the database that can be offered in offerings where the main oracle beast DB can not fit! At the same time, specific I.P of MySQL can be heading to the Oracle R&D and maybe some new ' proprietary databse hybrids' would come up! I can really now understand why MySQL inventor - headed off Sun a couple of weeks ago! He will be working on the new MySQL engine called Maria , and maybe..I say maybe he will have another chance of making the new MySQL of the decade. Small, fast, transactional by default...and open! Who knows!
4. Java, I would but first in my list of assumptions but I am not! Java is still strong, even without the Sun to look after her! Anyway a lot of things (almost everything) has been open sourced, and for years now the language was evovling (even with objections) through th JCP process. Oracle is a heavy investor on the J2EE stack, now apart from PL/SQL they have their own programming language, developing for years, producing products. It is quite bad for the Java ecosystem one of its main players being vanished (Sun) , that means one less options when it comes to certain technologies (more to this later) but still I feel the ecosystem will sustain its stability and growth. IBM, Oracle , Red Hat (quite smaller) are now the ecosystem dominant players.
5. I am quite sad about this, (I hope it wont happen). Oracle recently swallowed BEA and finally managed to have a decent J2EE application server in its portfolio, that is BEA Weblogic server. It was a happy day for thousands of java developers world wide seeing OC4J being phased out! Oracle swallowed the worst server, yaay! Now Oracle with this move has another container in its portfolio. GlassFish. A new kid on the block, with decent modern implementation, far better perfomance on certain areas comparing to existing BEA products, full j2EE 5 compliant and many many new things. GlassFish is open source. I suspect Oracle will just remove the plug from the GlassFish department of Sun and head to making Weblogic first class application server. Then ...I assume...the community or other smart people, will take GlassFish and make out of it the new JBoss! That would be very very cool! Anyway if you ask me.. I would invest my future installation on JBoss 5 (but then again..this is just me!).
6. Netbeans. I think that it is going to survive. Oracle never managed to have a clear view on their IDE. JDeveloper (it sucks so much if you ask me) code wise is closer to netbeans (actually they have some common roots, a loooong time ago. But then again we had Oracle on investing on some Eclipse things! I hope this time, Oracle swallows JDeveloper and build on top of Netbeans. Far better, faster and ...ok open source (that's not good for Oracle :( ). But then again if Oracle pulls the plug on Netbeans, maybe the community can continue! I hope Netbeans will continue to be first class citizen on the Java IDE world.
That is all for, now. All the above are wishes, assumptions mixed with some facts. Eventually nobody knows what is really going to happen to all the above and lots more that are not covered in this post. My overall feeling is that Java is still strong but i dont like the fact that the Java ecosystem is getting smaller. I feel IBM will feel some heat after that, unless they 'knew' from the start and there is another parallel deal with Oracle. But then again these are all assumptions!!! I would like to see IBM's , Red Hat's and yes Google's reaction about this acquisition.Not to forget Microsoft as well!
Strange times ahead! I guess this was my last day as Sun Java Champion : ).