Oracle Buys Sun: What Will Happen Next?

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 20, 2009. Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) and Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL) announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Oracle will acquire Sun common stock for $9.50 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt. The price represents a 42 percent premium to Sun’s Friday closing stock price of $6.69. This acquisition came after Sun broke negotiations with IBM, which was offering $9.40 per share.

Sun Press release said “There are substantial long-term strategic customer advantages to Oracle owning two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris.” I think that this last sentence will reflect the main point of this purchase, as far as software developers are concerned. In his quest for getting a more important share of the software infrastructure of companies, Oracle acquires mainly a programming expertise and operating system that should complement its application and databases solutions. The hardware part should also allow Oracle to offer a complete optimized hardware and software solution to its customers, even if, due to Sun smaller market share, Oracle has to be friendly with its other hardware partners like HP or Dell. Acquiring Sun, Oracle also increase its expertise in the Java middleware area, after the acquisition last year of BEA Systems.

The other fact which is contained in Sun press release sentence, or I should say which is omitted, is MySQL. Sun acquired MySQL in January 2008, as a way to boost its software offer. MySQL has been for a long time an important issue for Oracle, as it was a big competitor in the lower end of the market for databases. With this acquisition, Oracle has the possibility of “quietly” killing the MySQL development process and offer the current MySQL paying customer an opportunity to migrate towards its own database product. I don’t see Oracle maintaining two database product lines, especially if one is mainly “given away” for free. Even if existing Oracle customers may not be tempted by MySQL, this new database was always in consideration for startups. There were also some companies that tried to build upon MySQL the missing tools to bring it close to the power of Oracle products.

We expect a similar fate, silent slow death through lower financial support, for mainly of the other Sun’s technologies: NetBeans, GlassFish, JavaFX or OpenOffice. Oracle always want to get the most of the financial aspect of acquisitions and spending money on open source projects and technology that has low immediate return on investment is not something that it would consider, unless it could be used as a tactical weapon against some of its competitors, like Microsoft or SAP for instance.

Sun Press Release
http://www.sun.com/third-party/global/oracle/index.jsp

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