Things Are Looking Sunny for Oracle - But What About for Us?

Sun Microsystems — and what would happen to it — has been in the news for some weeks, amid rumors, then negotiations, then rumors, again, concerning the flailing company's future. The now-infamous IBM purchase and its spectacular failure earlier this month exponentially increased speculation — speculation that was put to rest this morning when it was revealed that database-giant Oracle will be adding Sun to its solar system.

The acquisition, which was jointly announced by the companies early this morning, will see Oracle pay some $7 billion to Sun shareholders, offering them $9.50 — in cash — for their shares. The winning offer is 10¢ higher than the revised IBM offer Sun rejected, and just 5¢ less than what IBM was offering in the first place, suggesting that perhaps the "onerous" board at Sun knew what they were doing. Oracle, for their part, seems almost giddy, with president Safra Catz saying the company expects Sun to contribute $1.5 billion in profit the first year, and over $2 billion the second.

How long that giddiness will last is open to question, given that with two of the most widely used database systems involved — and Oracle's purchase in recent years of at least two other database firms — the deal is sure to be closely scrutinized by U.S. regulators. The European Commission is also likely to join in the regulatory rigmarole, as though it cannot block the purchase — both companies are based in the U.S. and outside the EC's jurisdiction — it retains the power to prevent any company that has undertaken a disapproved merger/acquisition from doing business within the European Union — a fate no worldwide vendor wants to face.

Of course, an acquisition like this — especially one involving a broad Open Source portfolio like Sun's — has sparked a great deal of discussion about the future of Sun's offerings, especially Open Source offerings like MySQL, which Sun acquired not-too-terribly-long-ago. Linux Journal's own Doc Searls posed the question of what happens to the stuff at Sun to readers this morning, and called attention to the fact — potentially overlooked among the current concerns — that Oracle is involved in Open Source development.

Still, Sun's Open Source involvement is broad, with OpenSolaris, Java, OpenOffice, and, of course, MySQL representing just some of the Open Source projects in which Sun is involved. There is legitimate concern over how the new lord-and-master may handle Sun's Open Source involvement, but one thing is true, no matter what Oracle decides to do: Open Source licenses don't go away. Even if Oracle decides to cease development or stops releasing new Open Source versions, the existing code will remain, perpetually available under its Open Source licensing. The large development communities surrounding these projects won't disappear if corporate Open Source development ends, and we guarantee those communities will go right on working and producing Open Source offerings, whether in cooperation with Oracle or by means of a fork.

At the risk of sounding like Céline Dion, Open Source will go on.

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