If Oracle's acquisition of Sun actually becomes a market reality, it will most certainly change the dynamics of the market for servers, operating systems, development tools, database management systems, applications and, of course, virtualization technology. Let's take a dark view of the possibilities in each area.
- Market for servers. Oracle will move from being a hardware neutral supplier of software and services to a provider of servers, software and services. Other hardware suppliers that had warm relationships with Oracle are likely to rethink their relationship. Bringing Oracle into a customer didn't also bring in a sharp-toothed competitor. I would expect the relationship between Oracle and Dell, HP and IBM to cool down quite a bit.
- Market for operating systems. Oracle has been offering its version of Linux for a while. Sun has its Solaris. Both are flogging an open source message. Will Oracle continue to invest in Solaris isn't yet clear. It certainly is conceivable that Oracle will choose to de-emphasize Solaris over time.
- Market for development tools. Both Sun and Oracle offer development tools and development environments. Sun has focused quite a bit of attention on beefing up open source tools. Oracle has focused largely on its own developent environments. Oracle certainly could chose to de-emphasize Sun's development environments or starve them to death by laying off Sun's development team and handing the technology to Oracle's current development team. Which development tools would get the highest priority? Very likely the answer to that question would be Oracle's tools.
- Database management systems. Oracle is well known as one of the leaders in the relational database market. Over time, the company has also acquired non-relational, in memory and shared network cache data management technology. Sun has largely been neutral and has been happy to work with just about anyone to make their database management tools work efficiently. It is certainly reasonable to suspect that in the new world, Oracle's own products would be emphasized and everything else would get whatever attention and budget that was left over.
- Applications. Oracle has acquired a number of application companies and has developed many of its own. Sun, on the other hand, really as gone to market with everyone else. The one exception was StarOffice. If we look darkly at the possibilities, Sun's support of other application players could be less and less enthusiastic. It could disappear as well.
- Virtualization. Sun has been a long time player in the world of virtualization technology. It is one of the few companies that has offerings in nearly every layer of the Kusnetzky Group Model. Oracle, on the other had, has largely focused on building enough of a platform (operating system, virtual machine software, failover clustering, parallel processing and storage virtualization technology) to replace the offerings of folks such as Sun, IBM and the like when and wherever possible. They, of course, would prefer all of the revenue to end up in their bottom line rather than a portion. Will Oracle see the value in Sun's offerings and bring them forward or dump them?
As one can easily see, Oracle's move to acquire Sun creates a number of questions. Customers will need to fully understand what Oracle intend to do with hardware and software that has become the basis of part of their IT infrastructure.
If Oracle does this badly, Dell, HP and IBM are likely to be where these customers look for solutions. HP and IBM both have active programs to convirt Sun Solaris users to users of their own technology technology. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see IBM create programs to use products from their Transitive acquisition and their global services organization to offer credible Sun Solaris/Oracle database to IBM AIX/DB2 migration products.
Of course, only time will tell if these questions are merely speculation or are definitions of Oracle's future plans.