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Oracle Buys Sun

Now this is a buyout I can get behind. In my mind, Oracle buying Sun makes loads more sense than IBM buying Sun (although I readily admit that many of you disagreed with my logic on that.)

The reason? There's not nearly the same overlap among products. Oracle will significantly expand what it offers now, rather than just offering more of the same stuff (e.g. servers) under a different name.

The big question, of course, is if this means Oracle wants to become a hardware company now (echoes of Cisco now wanting to become a server company, too). Oracle knows nothing about servers, of course, but it may have decided it's time to learn.

The question for the readers of this blog is about Oracle's virtualization plans going forward. Oracle has a good virtualization platform, although it's only for its own databases. (In fact, one of the ironies here is the joining of one of the world's most proprietary companies with one of the most open. Sun embraced open source years ago, while Oracle says "Hey, open source this, amigo!")

On the hardware side of virtualization, Oracle may have just bought itself a competitor to Cisco's new virtualization-tuned servers. Now Oracle/Sun servers can go out with a complete virtualization stack, right down to the virtualized Oracle database. Sounds enticing, no?

On the software side, Oracle gets Sun's virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offering, as well as a virtualization (and physical) management product, xVM Ops Center. Oracle didn't have anything substantial in the virtualization management space; now it does. One question to be answered in the coming months is whether Oracle wants to break beyond the narrow confines of managing its own stack, and enter the crowded virtualization management space into managing non-Oracle stuff. I'm also curious as to how much the Sun VDI solution factored into the sale; it's considered the next hot area of virtualization, so Oracle may have been trying to buy into the game. (It's also worth noting that Oracle gets VirtualBox, a great, free PC virtualization product).

What Oracle doesn't get, amazingly enough, is Sun's hypervisor, the still-unseen Sun xVM. One wonders whether work on xVM will continue, or if it will be integrated with Oracle VM. xVM, having been in development so long, has to be close to ready. Will it be released? If so, will it be re-branded by Oracle? And why would any company need two hypervisors that do the same thing (I'm differentiating here between different hypervisors, like Type 2 and bare-metal client hypervisors)? Questions worth asking.

Certainly, the IT public's main concerns will be the integration of the two companies on a high level. It will be just as fascinating, though, to see what in what virtual direction the new, much larger Oracle heads.

Posted by Keith Ward on 04/20/2009 at 12:48 PM


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