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What Oracle Buying Sun Means To Your Business

Now that Oracle has aced out IBM to buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion dollars, the question for bMighty readers is what does this blockbuster merger mean for small and midsize businesses? The consequences are real, even if you're not a customer of either one, because although they concentrate on the enterprise market, they control many key technologies and both companies have recently ramped up their pushes into the midmarket.
Now that Oracle has aced out IBM to buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion dollars, the question for bMighty readers is what does this blockbuster merger mean for small and midsize businesses? The consequences are real, even if you're not a customer of either one, because although they concentrate on the enterprise market, they control many key technologies and both companies have recently ramped up their pushes into the midmarket.As Paul MacDougall points out in InformationWeek, "Sun's proprietary hardware business has all but dried up in the face of competition from commodity players." But Sun remains the driving force behind several technologies of great interest to smaller companies, specfically:

Java - the programming language is a key steandard for Web-based and mobile applications.

MySQL - the popular open-source database.

Open Office - The highly rated open-source office suite is the basis for Sun's own Star Office suite.

Oracle's Larry Ellison says the merger will combine Sun's assets with Oracle's products to make things more efficient. But the merger will also reduce choice. And it's not at all clear whether the aggressive Oracle business culture will continue Sun's support for open source and free software. But Oracle's statement did acknowledge that Java is the "most important software Oracle has ever acquired."

And some observers are already predicting that Oracle will move to abandon or kill MySQL to limit competition with Oracle's own database products.

Java, however, should be safe. Michael Dortch, principal analyst at Dortch On IT, says "No one has ever called Oracle stupid. If they do anything to change Java, I'd be very surprised. Oracle's Fusion Middleware is built on Java, Oracle has already made its bet on Java." And Dortch adds that the Java community will quickly rise up in protest if Oracle tries to make Java less open. He expects nothing but more integration with Oracle's development and prototyping tools.

And while Ellison has often derided Software as a Service (Saas), Dortch expects the acquisition to enable Oracle/Sun partners to improve development of SaaS applications. "That would be the most interesting and effective way for Oracle/Sun to compete with IBM on the SMB level," Dortch says.

Fortunately, nothing is likely to change immediately, and customers should have time to make any needed adjustments. But if Oracle's history of acquisitions is any guide -- think PeopleSoft and Siebel -- before too long Sun will be fully integrated into the Oracle mother ship, and any special culture or products will be phased out. Besides, Sun has been losing money lately, and Oracle is already emphasizing that it plans to make money with its new purchase.