Just as Sun was about to disappear below the horizon and be absorbed into the ocean that is Oracle, the European Union (EU) anti-trust police held up the stop sign.  The acquisition that Oracle management wanted so badly to finish in time for OpenWorld will now not be finalized until at least January.  Readers of this blog may thus need to suffer along with more of my tortured metaphors about Sun for months to come. 

The EU wants time to evaluate whether the deal will overly limit competition in the database market due to Sun’s recent takeover of the mySQL open source DBMS.  Control over Java by one of a shrinking number of middleware vendors is apparently also an EU concern. 

Oracle thought it was home free after the US Justice Department offered it’s blessing last month.  The delay has to be a huge disappointment.  We have heard that this particular deal has energized Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in a way that none of the previous forty-some acquisitions did.  He has apparently cut back on racing around on his giant yacht and other outside interests to focus on figuring out how these two very different businesses will fit together. 

It is not yet clear to me why Ellison wants to jump into the low margin, insanely competitive hardware market at this point.  On the other hand, history suggests that he likely sees something not obvious to the rest of us.  The very sound logic behind the PeopleSoft acquisition was not clear until years after it closed. 

The EU has not stopped Oracle and Sun from starting to work together on integrated hardware/software appliances.  A webinar has been scheduled for September 15 to announce the first one.  It is being promoted as the world’s first OLTP database machine featuring Sun FlashFire Technology.  Once we hear the details we will let our readers know if this particular offering is relevant for our community. 

Assuming that the EU objections are eventually dealt with, I can’t wait to hear the answers to some big questions: 

  • What other hardware/software (and possibly services) appliances are coming?
  • How will Sun’s microprocessor business keep up with Intel, IBM and others?
  • Where will the various parts of Sun report in?  Will the pieces be split up?
  • How will Oracle act as steward of the Java franchise?
  • Will the open source mySQL database thrive or wither under Oracle control?
  • Will Sun founder Scott McNealy play a visible role or stay out of sight?
  • What will the impact be on both the IBM and HP alliances? 

Sadly, it will be 2010 before most of the answers become available.  In the near term, it is probably good for the JD Edwards attendees at OpenWorld that the Sun deal was pushed.  Issues that are of more immediate concern to our community will get more attention.  An upcoming posting will focus on what OpenWorld will offer to us. 

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