Oracle buying Sun: What it means for Open Source Community

Sun under the leadership of Jonathan Schwartz had been investing all its resources in open sourcing the whole organization. Sun was one of the biggest recent converts to Open Sourcing. When IBM was in talks to buy Sun the threat to open source community was not much. IBM had also invested heavily in open source and could have kept up the open source efforts of Sun alive and ticking.

Now that Oracle is in talks to buy Sun what is in store for open source community. What will happen to all the open source projects initiated by Sun? The most interesting of them for Oracle is MySQL. MySQL was getting positioned to provide stiff competition to Oracle in near future. What will be its fate under Larry Ellison’s leadership?

It would be actually in best interest of Oracle to expand the reach of MySQL. If MySQL gets killed there will be other open source database taking birth and it will be a big headache for Oracle to keep fending off these open source initiatives. Oracle is in a great position now that it is acquiring the leading open source database and it can really use this opportunity to be at the center of the Open Source action. Of course Java  brand  has tremendous value and Larry Ellison might find ways to monetize it, which Sun had miserably failed to do so. What happens to the rest of the open source initiatives? It is anybody’s guess. It will be interesting to see what happens to OpenSolaris, Glassfish, Netbeans etc.

The only thing that does not fit well in this acquisition is the hardware aspect of Sun. Oracle has always been a software company but with this acquisition it suddenly has to have a hardware strategy. One possible scenario is that Oracle will just absorb the software products of Sun and sell off the hardware business. It is difficult to envision Oracle putting itself into the center of an already overcrowded server market.

Is this a acquisition a big blow to Open Source Community? I doubt so. It might just be an hiccup and probably the open source community will keep chugging along and getting people on board. What ever happens it will surely be very interesting to see how this acquisition plays out.


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