Why the Oracle/Sun deal is bad news for Microsoft and SQL Server

The news that Oracle will buy Sun for $7.4 billion is a stunner -- and one that will be especially hard to figure out for the Microsoft world. One of the first questions that arises is what will become of mySQL, owned by Sun? Oracle has a history of buying competitors and forcing customers of said competitors over to its higher-priced options.

If Oracle deploys the "forced move" strategy, it could have Microsoft smiling, as this leaves the more affordable SQL Server as the most logical option for mySQL users that don't want to move to some sort of Oracle database. But customers of the open source database will likely feel pushed between a rock and a hard place. Open source lovers often feel as if they must automatically be in the anti-Microsoft camp -- and, in the past, this meant anti-Oracle, too. If Oracle can remake its image into an open-source/Linux friendly choice, offering mySQL as the "loss leader" with a gentle (not forced) upgrade path to its own high-end databases, then Microsoft and SQL Server face the stiffest competition in this market then they've ever known.

Note that in a statement about the deal, Oracle President Charles Phillips talks about of why it makes sense for Oracle to own Java and Solaris, and offers a subtle kick at Microsoft, but fails to mention MySQL. Phillips says:

"Oracle plans to engineer and deliver an integrated system—applications to disk—where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. ... Oracle's ownership of two key Sun software assets, Java and Solaris, is expected to provide our customers with significant benefit. Java is one of the computer industry's best known brands and most widely deployed technologies. Oracle Fusion Middleware is built on top of Sun's Java language and software. Oracle can now ensure continued innovation and investment in Java technology for the benefit of customers and the Java community. The Sun Solaris operating system is the leading platform for the Oracle database. With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle can optimize the Oracle database for some of the unique, high-end features of Solaris. Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms, and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships.

Oracle's purchase of Sun also gives it the hardware to quickly push into cloud computing in competition with Microsoft, IBM and others. Blogger Stephen Arnold, author of the "Beyond Search" blog points out that an Oracle/Sun alliance also means a new ultra powerful friend for Google, which amounts to an ultra powerful foe to Microsoft.

"Oracle is an important partner for Google Apps and the Google Search Appliance. ... With Oracle a Google partner, Google may have some breathing room to lock down its approach to Java ... Eric Schmidt is a Sun alum.... This means that in the enterprise, the folks in Redmond have to deal with Oracle here and now and a loose federation of Google Oracle and Sun at some point in the future. Oracle may have more forces to deploy to slow down the proliferation of Microsoft SQL Server. And, now that Oracle 'owns' MySQL, there’s a pricing and upgrade path to consider. The Access and SQL Server tandem may face a MySQL and Oracle database upgrade tactic

One thing to note, too, where Microsoft might be grinning. The Oracle/Sun story doesn't include a very good plot when it comes to mobility, notes Nearpoints blogger Craig Mathias. The new mega-computer supplier will offers hardware, (chips, servers, storage, desktops, thin clients, and more), an OS, programming languages and just about every application type known including Office apps... but when it comes to mobile device and strategies, not so much.

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