Oracle Rocks Java

2:05 PM That's not necessarily a good thing

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

April 21, 2009

2 Min Read
Oracle Rocks Java

2:05 PM -- I'm guessing a lot of the software folks at Sun Microsystems Inc. -- the Java and MySQL teams in particular -- were crying in their beers last night. Being owned by IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) might have been an awkward fit, but being owned by Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) could be worse. (See Oracle to Buy Sun and Sun Is a Star.)

Oracle isn't hostile to Java. Oracle uses Java. Business Week quotes Oracle Emperor Larry Ellison saying Java is "the single most important software asset we have ever acquired."

But I find myself siding more with Serdar Yegulalp, a fellow TechWeb employee who writes for Information Week: "No matter how I turn this over in my mind, it looks bleak. I don't see much coming from this other than Sun's hardware division essentially becoming a marketing platform for Oracle boxes -- and the software division becoming an irrelevancy, if not cannibalized entirely."

I don't agree entirely, but I think Yegulalp is thinking along the right lines.

Java did end up making Sun some money -- $220 million a year, according to Business Week -- but when you're the size of Sun or Oracle, that's nothing. Oracle could seek ways to wrest more money out of Java, and it might also try to use Java as a tool for industry dominance. It seems doubtful that anyone could wreck the Java franchise at this point, but Oracle is big and bullying enough to find a way.

I'm thinking MySQL would be history. You could argue that Oracle would be smart to keep it -- see point No. 4 on this blog from Dave Roberts of Vyatta Inc. -- but I've always had the impression Oracle embraces open-source only grudgingly. Oracle wears the t-shirts but hates the music. After a couple years of lip service, MySQL would be floated away on an iceberg.

One open-source project that I think would survive is OpenOffice. Even though Oracle would be slashing messily through Sun's guts to cut costs, Ellison's favorite sport is to tweak Microsoft, and OpenOffice would be like a shiny new driver in his golf bag. One that fires poison darts and has a cigar lighter.

Ellison has probably lost his fervor for the Network Computer, an idea he floated 10 years ago. (It was similar to cloud computing, except your Network Computer would be more of a dumb terminal without a hard drive to store your pirated movies.) But in preaching the Network Computer, he repeatedly went on screeds against Microsoft Office, mocking the way they kept adding features just to force people to buy new versions. He was right; Office gets more needlessly bloated every year. Now Ellison might get a chance to do something about it.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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