links for 2009-05-04

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Oracle to aquire Sun

We just got the word, Oracle will be acquiring Sun. I can’t say exactly why, but this fact does not fill me with the trepidation that the rumors about an IBM acquisition did. Perhaps it is because Sun competed with IBM on so many fronts, that there was no area of Sun that one could point to and say, “IBM will want to preserve that”. With Oracle, though, it is hard to point to anything in Sun and not say “Oracle will want to keep this, it complements what they are trying to do”. Sure there is some overlap, but not all that much and even in those places, it is easy to imagine a plausible scenario where they might want to keep those products on.

That is not to say that Oracle is not likely to abandon some products, invest more in others and all in all, shake things up big time. It is not a question of job security. I don’t think there is any such thing as a “safe” job in a company that is regularly experiencing RIF’s anyway. But there were plausible scenarios in an IBM acquisition that involved the complete gutting of Sun. With Oracle, there is much less to gain in that regard.

Furthermore, Oracle is much better at strategic planning than Sun has been. Sun is well known as an innovator, but that is largely due to the culture from which it has sprung. There is a long standing feeling that “If you build it, then they will come”. That is all well and good, but in my opinion, Sun has failed time and again to capitalize on the products it has built, and also to build products in the areas that it needed to to solidify its position.

IBM is excellent at that kind of thinking and execution. Oracle is too. Of course, nobody holds a candle to Microsoft in that regard, but most people that I know think that MS has gone way too far in that direction. So, I think Oracle offers a great compromise, valuing innovation, but with the long view as well.

I don’t know what the future will bring. I hope that the stability Oracle brings to Sun will allow Sun to really build some fantastic products. I hope that this is a move that bodes well for both companies and our customers. I think it does.

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