Five years later, how is the Oracle-Sun marriage working out?

Larry Ellison promised to grow Sun products. Let's look at how well he kept those promises.

sun sets on Sun Microsystems
Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

(Updated 2/12/15)

Five years and two weeks ago, I was herded into a massive conference hall in Oracle's giant Redwood Shores towers with a bunch of reporters, analysts and Oracle customers. It was celebration day for Oracle. After nine painful months of delays thanks to the DoJ and European Commission, its acquisition of Sun Microsystems was approved.

Ellison had wanted a hardware/software integrated stack for a long time, and this gave him what he wanted. Now, his Exadata and Exalogic servers would be produced by Sun and not partners HP and Fujitsu. Even better, he could offer a turnkey system with Oracle software pre-installed and fully integrated.

Oracle made a lot of promises, the most around MySQL. The European Commission held up the merger for months because of interference by the likes of Richard Stallman and Ralph Nader purely over concerns of support for MySQL, which was such a miniscule part of the business. Meanwhile, Sun lost $100 million a month in declining sales while it was held in limbo.

Ellison and Oracle made numerous promises around Sun hardware, Java and MySQL. How have the products fared in that time? Let's take a look.

1) Support for MySQL.

In December of 2009, Oracle made 10 commitments to MySQL, ranging from development promises to licensing promises to openness. I'm not really up on the database world, but one database developer feels Oracle has kept many of its promises and did some good things, like adding headcount to the QA department. In the end, though, its mere ownership of MySQL was enough to kill it because people would avoid it via association.

The one thing the writer didn't get into, and I think is a valid case, is the massive shift to unstructured data and Big Data analytics and the rise of NoSQL. After all, the anti-Oracle community forked MySQL just prior to the acquisition to create MariaDB but I still hear very little about MariaDB these days. It's a NoSQL/Hadoop world now.

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