Yesterday’s news that Oracle had entered an agreement to buy Sun sent a bit of a shock wave through the open source community. After weeks of pondering what an IBM buyout of Sun would mean, the IT community now had an entirely different scenario unfolding.
The news was the first thing I noticed when I logged onto Twitter, and I saw that SearchDataCenter.com was working on the story. I “retweeted” Executive Editor Matt Stansberry’s play for feedback and heard back from Tom Howard, who said “IBM missed its chance. I want to know what Oracle’s commitment to Open Office and Solaris are, personally.”
But the bigger fear was from the MySQL folks. Satoshi Nagayasu, an open source database engineer from Tokyo, Japan, asked “Should we say goodbye to MySQL?” He then pointed to a blog from 2005 that was a reaction to Oracle’s purchase of Innobase, and said “Josh’s article gave me some insights why we use community-based open source [PostgreSQL].”
One of the more fun and mood-illustrating reactions was from tartansolutions: “Oracle now owns MySQL?! In related news, the Rebel Alliance has been acquired by Darth Vader for three wookies and a tantan :(“
John Engates, CTO at Rackspace, said “Seems like there’s a lot of concern about Oracle screwing up MySQL. People may look to PostgreSQL as a ‘safe’ open source DB.” He linked to a blog post by Om Malik, providing the GigaOM perspective on the purchase. Of the things Om said, the central point in the concern could be summarized by this paragraph:
At this price, it looks like Oracle found itself yet another bargain and in one fell swoop became a worthy competitor to IBM. It allows Oracle to become a player in the cloud computing business. More importantly, the company ends up acquiring MySQL, the upstart database that has been viewed as Oracle’s Achilles’ heel. In one fell swoop, it has taken out its No. 1 competitor.
Not all in the open source community was doom and gloom though. Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, in his blog post in reaction to the deal looked for a silver lining. Zemlin pointed out that Oracle is strategically aligned with Linux in its position as a Linux distributor, and all its products are developed and run on Linux.
“Oracle is a key supporter of open standards such as ODF and we believe this only strengthens that stance,” said Zemlin. “This acquisition could prove fruitful for Open Office and ODF support in the enterprise.”
I was on the phone for the Canonical Ubuntu 9.04 release press conference, and one of the participants asked Canonical CEO, Mark Shuttleworth, what his reaction was, specifically regarding Java support.
“It is far too early to tell,” said Shuttleworth. “Java has been open, it tends to be a one-way trip – once you’ve made that commitment it makes sense to have it as highly available as possible.”
Shuttleworth also saw the move as a bit of further evidence of the worth of open source in the enterprise software industry.
“This really cements that free software and open source is the driving force today,” he said. “All of the major forces today are either free software or powered by free software — Java, Google, and onward. The software marketplace is consolidating at an extraordinary pace. Part of the reason for that is that open source is dominating the innovation pipeline. The fact that one of those five has just announced a $7 billion acquisition of a company that describes itself as the world’s biggest free and opens source software company proves that open source is the big game in town.”
Lastly, analyst Dana Gardener painted what I feel is the most level-headed picture of what the whole deal means.
Suffice to say that whatever momentum Sun had behind open source everywhere will be muted to open source some times as a ramp to other Oracle stuff, or to grow the community and keep developers happy. If nothing else, Oracle has been pragmatic on open source, not religious.
What do you think this means for open source? Are you considering moving to PostgreSQL if you weren’t already? Are you a programmer worried about Java support? Share your thoughts in the comments
More analysis from TechTarget:
Oracle-Sun combo: What does it mean for enterprise Java?