Earlier today Oracle executives laid out their strategy for integrating Sun’s assets with Oracle.  The whole event spanned over 4 hours.  I’ll just update readers on the section that related to Sun’s open source assets.

The GlassFish application server will be repositioned to address departmental needs while the strategic Oracle WebLogic Server product will remain targeted at enterprise customers requiring performance and scalability.  Long-time readers will recognize this strategy as one we’ve been using in the application server market with WebSphere Application Server Community Edition and WebSphere Application Server.  It’s a smart move on Oracle’s part because, as we’ve found, and as MySQL and Oracle DB usage shows. Customers have different middleware needs for different projects.

MySQL will continue to receive investment and be managed within the separate open source division at Sun.  MySQL will also have a separate sales force.  Recall that that GlassFish and WebLogic Server, which compete on paper, but address different use cases, will be sold by the same sales force.  More specifically, GlassFish will be sold by the sales team responsible for selling Oracle’s strategic Fusion Middleware suite. And yet, Oracle has decided to put MySQL and Oracle DB into separate the divisions and assign a separate sales team to MySQL.  Hopefully this is temporary and MySQL will be managed and sold by the Fusion Middleware division in the near future.

OpenOffice will continue to receive investment and will be managed within a separate business unit.  There will be a focus on integrating OpenOffice with business intelligence and content management offerings.

Oracle announced that it has over 4000 customers that acquire Linux and Linux support from Oracle.  Oracle expects to accelerate Sun’s Solaris efforts, but target their investment to drive Solaris further into mission critical workloads and focus less on x86 or the SMB market.  While Oracle didn’t say this specifically, one has to wonder if Oracle’s Solaris investments will regulate Linux to something less than “mission critical” workloads, at least alongside Oracle DB. Frankly, I’d be surprised to see Oracle try to substitute Solaris into existing Oracle DB accounts running on Linux.  More likely, Oracle will offer customers both choices and let them decide.  Although Oracle will likely attempt to influence the decision through better performance and integration with Solaris.

Oracle intends to keep VirtualBox and allow users to crate images on their desktop that can be deployed into OracleVM pools.

Finally, there wasn’t much news about the future of Java, other than the fact that JavaOne will be held September 19-23, 2010 and will be  collocated with Oracle Open World and also expand to local events in Brazil, China and India. While JavaOne will be collocated with Open World, they will be two separate conferences.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

A quick review of the Save MySQL online petition stats today shows that the results are still in line with the results I reported previously.  Over 90 percent of petition signees would require Oracle to divest MySQL to a “suitable third party”.  I noticed that Michael “Monty” Widenius’ post explaining the petition provided several options for a “suitable third party”.  First off, Monty makes it clear that his company is not interested in acquiring MySQL.  Monty’s list of potential buyers includes IBM, Fujitsu, any of the major Linux distribution vendors or a private equity firm that would take MySQL public.

As an IBMer I was interested to hear more about Monty’s thoughts on IBM.  Note that I do not work in the division where IBM’s database, DB2, is managed.  Nor do I have any information about IBM’s interest, or lack thereof, in MySQL.

I asked Monty this question via email:

Q] Would you require that IBM add the linking exception or have to re-license MySQL under the ASL 2.0 in order to acquire MySQL?

The linking exception or having to re-license MySQL are two of the options that Monty & Florian Mueller would like to see Oracle select before being allowed to acquire MySQL.

Monty replied:

“Personally I don’t consider IBM a direct competitor to MySQL and thus there would not be a need for a licensing remedy…With MySQL, IBM would have a vehicle to become a market leader in databases. IBM could only do this if they keep MySQL free to ensure it keeps it dominant position in units…IBM has more to gain by keeping MySQL Open Source and available to all than they could get by killing it.  With Oracle this is not the case.”

At first I bristled at this reply.  Why should Oracle accept a set of restrictions that IBM, another competitor in the database market, would not face?  However, the difference lies in the market position of the acquiring vendor.  Oracle is the revenue leader in the relational database market with over 40 percent share according to Gartner and IDC.  I don’t have the Gartner data handy, but IDC data suggests that Oracle had approximately a 2 to 1 lead versus IBM and Microsoft individually.  Considering Oracle’s market position versus IBM and Microsoft, it’s understandable that regulators would treat an Oracle acquisition of MySQL differently than, for example a Microsoft or IBM acquisition of MySQL.

One thing that does surprise me, pleasantly, is that Monty doesn’t see a “need for a licensing remedy” should IBM (Fujitsu or any of the major Linux distribution vendors) acquire MySQL.  Many have questioned Monty’s motives for blocking the MySQL acquisition.  Monty’s company competes with MySQL, but, unlike MySQL, Monty’s company cannot provide a commercial license to business partners or enterprises.  That’s why the linking exception or having to re-license MySQL under the Apache Software License 2.0 is seen as a boon to third party providers of MySQL products and services.  Had Monty replied that he would like any potential acquirer of MySQL accept a licensing remedy, one could draw a connection back to his current business interests.

Readers can make up their own mind as to Monty’s or Oracle’s motives.  But like most things in life, the story isn’t cut and dry.  And while I personally believe there is more for Oracle to gain by nurturing MySQL than not, but Larry Ellison won’t return my calls.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Florian Mueller begins 2010 by demonstrating why he was named EU Campaigner of the Year by the Economist five years ago. While most of us were prepping for New Year’s Eve celebrations or contemplating New Year’s resolutions, Monty and Mueller spent December 28th launching an online Save MySQL petition against the Oracle acquisition of MySQL via Sun. Mueller reports via email:

“www.helpmysql.org campaign delivers first 14,000 signatures against Oracle’s proposed acquisition of MySQL to European, Chinese and Russian competition authorities.

In less than one week, during the Holiday Season, we gathered 50 times more customer support than Oracle claimed three weeks ago.”

You can read the full press release here.

The campaign is displaying stats from petition signees.  This post is based on the first 16,306 signees as of 9am EST on Monday, January 4th.  If the results change markedly with new signees, I’ll post an update.

MySQL Enterprise Usage
Whether MySQL poses a competitive threat to Oracle’s database business has been a point of significant disagreement between Oracle and opponents of the MySQL acquisition including Monty and Mueller.  Oracle says there is little to no overlap.  Monty argues that MySQL has become feature rich and is a suitable replacement for Oracle’s database in several situations. Nearly a quarter of respondents identified themselves as working at a company using MySQL, and not simply an independent or self-employed software or web developer.  Of the respondents working at a company using MySQL, just over 20 percent worked at a company with 1000 or more employees.  This is clearly a customer group where Oracle databases would compete.  These results would seem to support Monty’s claims about MySQL competitiveness against Oracle.  On the other hand, there’s no reason that a large company wouldn’t want to use both MySQL and Oracle databases for small and large projects respectively.  In such a situation, did the MySQL usage displace Oracle usage, or, as Oracle would argue, SQL Server usage?  The former would support Monty’s claim, while the latter would support Oracle’s claim.  A generalized version of this question would have been a helpful addition to the Save MySQL petition.

Signees Would Require Oracle to Sell MySQL
Of the three solutions that Mueller and Monty suggest Oracle agree to before being allowed to complete the Sun acquisition, over 90 percent of signees believe that MySQL must be divested to a suitable third party.  Only 60 percent of signees believe that Oracle should be allowed to acquire MySQL as part of the Sun acquisition.  These signees would require Oracle to either commit to a linking exception for applications that use MySQL or require Oracle to release past and future versions of MySQL under the Apache Software License 2.0.

Go ahead and take a look at the petition here.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Last week Eben Moglen, founder and executive director of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), submitted an independent opinion on the Oracle/Sun merger to the European Union (EU). Moglen summarized his submission as follows:

“The GPL was designed specifically to ensure the permanent freedom of software, and the ability of everyone to improve and share their improvements to the program, no matter who acquires the copyrights to the code.  The whole point of GPL as a copyright license is to deal with every contingency that could result in hobbling or destroying the freedom of code shared under it. The drafters of GPL versions 2 and 3 considered scenarios very similar to the ones that the Commission is concerned about now. The design of the license, and the experience we have had using it, show that it can be counted upon to operate as intended in situations like this one.”

Moglen issued the 11 page opinion, pro bono and without the charge, at the request of Oracle’s counsel.  Moglen clarified that Oracle is an ongoing contributor to the SFLC, while Monty Widenius has contributed in the past.  However, neither the contributions from Oracle nor Widenius have exceeded 5 percent of SFLC’s funding since inception.

I found the following paragraph from Moglen’s submission particularly interesting:

“MySQL is now and always has been an atypical GPL software project, because its copyright was highly centralized inside a small commercial firm that considered dual licensing its only commercially attractive strategy for survival. But even MySQL AB’s atypical business model, which was highly unreflective of the mass of GPL’d software development, occurred within the parameters of the GPL’s overall design, which is to ensure the freedom of the software it protects regardless of the commercial motivations or behaviors of the parties distributing the primary upstream version.”

On the other end of the debate, Florian Mueller announced that he has submitted a 31 page rebuttal to Moglen’s position.  Mueller provided a summary of the highlights via email, from which I selected these comments:

“Fundamentally, his paper offers a different prediction as to what would happen post-acquisition. He simply expresses his firm belief that whatever made MySQL successful in the past is not really an indication for the future. In fact he believes MySQL AB had a very suboptimal business model…

If he were right that MySQL AB and all of the companies that succeeded around MySQL didn’t do it right and that a GPL-only approach works best, then actually there would be no point in Sun having acquired MySQL last year nor in Oracle acquiring it now because then the future would at any rate be that someone has to fork it and do a GPL-only project dependent on voluntary contributions. Interestingly, that approach would have been possible during all of those almost 14 years that MySQL has been available and no one, not even Eben Moglen, decided to seize that opportunity.”

Both Moglen and Mueller make strong and weak points.

First, Moglen is too quick to dismiss MySQL as an atypical GPL project.  As Mueller points out, whatever you think about MySQL and their business model, you can’t simply conclude that another business model would be more appropriate.  Just because Linux is licensed under the GPL and Linux vendors, namely Red Hat and Novell are closing in on a combined $1B in revenue, does not mean the GPL is the best license for every open source product with commercial aspirations.  The Linux ecosystem is very different than say, application servers or web content management.  Different markets with different ecosystems require different license considerations.

While Moglen appears to be arguing for a “pure GPL” MySQL, departing from the dual-licensed status quo, Groklaw reports that Mueller and Widenius would like to see the MySQL open source license changed from GPLv2 to the Apache Software License.  According to Groklaw, page 19 of an unreleased submission to the EU from Mueller/Widenius stated:

“We would like to draw attention to the fact that some major concerns about the effects of the proposed transaction could be somewhat alleviated by requiring that all versions of MySQL source code previously released under the GPLv2 license …must be released under a more liberal open source license that is usable also by the OEM users and would also create an opportunity for other service vendors to compete with offerings comparable to MySQL Enterprise. A good candidate is the Apache Software License (ASL).”

Something doesn’t feel right about Widenius proposing a license that MySQL could have chosen “over the past 14 years”.  Clearly MySQL decided against this move as the GPL/dual licensing approach led to a competitive advantage that the ASL v2.0 would not provide MySQL.  But I guess that’s why Widenius suggests Oracle should be forced to re-license MySQL under a permissive license such as the ASL v2.0.

We haven’t heard the last from Widenius & Mueller. Enjoy your holiday season ;-)

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Oracle updated its frequently asked questions (FAQ) overview of the impending Sun acquisition to address some important questions about the fate of Sun’s software assets beyond Java and Solaris.

To be completely honest, none of Oracle’s plans come as a surprise.  And at the end of the day, the FAQ is not legally binding and is not a commitment to deliver products, code or functionality. Oracle clearly states this at the end of the FAQ.  This too is completely understandable.  Oracle, like any other company with shareholders, will have to evaluate and adjust their plans and intentions on a product by product basis over time.  Oracle has a fiduciary duty to do so.

In the FAQ, potentially released to appease the EU and critics of the deal, Oracle tackles its plans for MySQL as follows:

“Oracle plans to spend more money developing MySQL than Sun does now. Oracle expects to continue to develop and provide the open source MySQL database after the transaction closes. Oracle plans to add MySQL to Oracle’s existing suite of database products, which already includes Berkeley DB, an open source database. Oracle also currently offers InnoDB, an open source transactional storage engine and the most important and popular transaction engine under MySQL. Oracle already distributes MySQL as part of our Enterprise Linux offering.”

This position makes complete sense as MySQL and the Oracle DB are more complimentary than competitive.  I doubt that this assurance from Oracle will help Monty, Florian, RMS and others opposed to Oracle’s ownership of MySQL get past their fears.

Not unexpectedly, Oracle plans to keep GlassFish around, since it is the reference implementation for Java EE:

“Oracle plans to continue evolving GlassFish Enterprise Server, delivering it as the open source reference implementation (RI) of the Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) specifications, and actively supporting the large GlassFish community. Additionally, Oracle plans to invest in aligning common infrastructure components and innovations from Oracle WebLogic Server and GlassFish Enterprise Server to benefit both Oracle WebLogic Server and GlassFish Enterprise Server customers.”

The plans for NetBeans are somewhat certain.  You’ll notice that Oracle makes no claims about “investing more than Sun does today” or “continue evolving”.

“As such, NetBeans is expected to provide an additional open source option and complement to the two free tools Oracle already offers for enterprise Java development: Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse. While Oracle JDeveloper remains Oracle’s strategic development tool for the broad portfolio of Oracle Fusion Middleware products and for Oracle’s next generation of enterprise applications, developers will be able to use whichever free tool they are most comfortable with for pure Java and Java EE development: JDeveloper, Enterprise Pack for Eclipse, or NetBeans.”

Finally, Oracle suggests that OpenOffice.org and a commercial offering will receive investment.

“After the transaction closes, Oracle plans to continue developing and supporting OpenOffice as open source. As before, some of the larger customers will ask for extra assurances, support, and enterprise tools. For these customers we expect to offer a typical commercial license option.”

So there you have it.  Oracle’s plans for Sun, well, based on current thinking and subject to change at Oracle’s sole discretion.  Which again, is perfectly sensible.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Matt Asay and Marten Micknos both tweeted about Oracle’s ad targeted at Sun customers that ran in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.  It’s also on Oracle’s website:

Source: Oracle

Customers have been leaving Sun and its uncertain future since the Oracle acquisition was announced for the stability of IBM, HP and Dell. The recent EU decision to continue evaluating the Sun acquisition prolongs the uncertainty surrounding Sun. On the surface, this ad is clearly intended to stop, or at least reduce, this unsettling customer trend.

Matt points out that there is no mention of MySQL in the advertisement. I’ll take it one step further and point out that there is no mention of any part of Sun’s software division (save for Solaris with its SPARC linkage). Nothing about Java, GlassFish, MySQL, OpenOffice, Netbeans, etc. R&D investments or sales support.

This is somewhat understandable. Why would Oracle pledge to “spend more money developing Sun xyz” software product when Oracle already has a competitive product in their existing portfolio. In some cases, Oracle *may* spend more developing the Sun product. In other cases, Oracle *may* spend significantly less, or even kill the product. But one would expect a blanket “we’re committed to protecting customer investments in Sun Software” or something like that.

I find the timing of this ad surprising. What better way to placate EU fears that Oracle is going to “hurt MySQL and open source choice” than publishing an ad that completely ignores MySQL or Sun’s software portfolio?

Most have speculated that Oracle was really after Sun’s software assets, and was likely to sell the Sun hardware/systems division after the acquisition was approved.  This advertisement would suggest otherwise. But hey, it’s an Oracle advertisement.  Take it with a grain of salt.

Follow me on twitter at: SavioRodrigues

PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

Oracle has released a Q&A with Ellison surrounding the Sun acquisition.  It’s an interesting read.  The net is that Oracle is going to keep Sun’s hardware business because it wants to sell customers tightly integrated systems & software.

Here’s a snippet that I found interesting (and pretty much sums up the Q&A document):

Reuters: Why does Oracle, a company that prides itself on high margins, want to get into the low-margin hardware business? Are you going to exit the hardware business?

Ellison: No, we are definitely not going to exit the hardware business. While most hardware businesses are low-margin, companies like Apple and Cisco enjoy very high-margins because they do a good job of designing their hardware and software to work together. If a company designs both hardware and software, it can build much better systems than if they only design the software. That’s why Apple’s iPhone is so much better than Microsoft phones.

Did Larry mean to say that ISVs building solutions for Sun’s systems are in for a world of hurt?!?  Considering that the lifeblood or a hardware system are the applications that run on it (through the associated/affiliated operating system), why would ISVs continue to target Solaris on SPARC in light of this news?  Wow, this move will hasten the ISV shift away from Solaris on SPARC to Linux on Intel/AMD/Power/System z.