Another One Bites the Dust

Another One Bites the Dust

The merger between Sun and Oracle is a pretty good fit as far as technology goes. But culturally? Not so much. . .

Damn, my money was on IBM. . .

When the news was announced the other day that Oracle was going to buy Sun Micrososytems, two thoughts immediately leapt into my head. The first was that I owe the editor of Techworld a beer (I'd bet him that IBM would buy Sun within six weeks of the news that the two companies had entered into merger talks first leaked to the press).

My second thought was: culture clash. Big time.

But let's start with the technology. I thought IBM and Sun would've been a good fit, at least as far as software goes. The acquisition of Sun's database platform Solaris, as well as Java and open source technologies like OpenOffice, would've meshed well with IBM's open source direction and recent reinvention as a software and services company.

But Oracle is perhaps an even better fit, technology-wise. Solaris is a popular platform for the Oracle database, which means that Oracle will now be able to offer the complete end-to-end solution, from the hardware up. As the company's acquisition statement said: "Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system -- applications to disk -- where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves".

But despite the technology synergy, how the two companies will mesh cultures is an entirely different kettle of fish.

In one corner you've got Sun. Known for its anti-establishment leanings in the early days, the company fell on hard times when the dotcom bubble burst but is still much beloved by geeks for being an open company that prides itself on being an active member of the broader IT community. When open source came along, Sun gradually adopted it and even made some of its own technology available. Even now, the company's staff blogs are among the most entertaining and informative on the Web, and remain largely uninhibited in their opinions and unsullied by the usual corporate marketingspeak.

Oracle, on the other hand, could not be more different. Notorious for its proprietary approach and eagerness to wring every last cent out of enterprise customers, Oracle is in many ways personified by its hard-charging, yacht-racing samurai warrior CEO Larry Ellison.

One thing's for sure: given the current state of the US economy, you can bet there will be layoffs. At least one analyst, Tony Sacconaghi from Sanford C Bernstein & Co, is already predicting as many as 10,000 people could lose their jobs in the upcoming rationalisation of the two companies.

In the coming months it will be interesting to watch how Oracle absorbs Sun. I bet it won't be pretty. That's a bet I might actually win -- not that it fills me with much joy.

Lastly, I want to send a welcome shout out to Tim Lohman, CIO's new staff journalist. Over the past several years Tim has worked on number of Australian IT titles, including Australian Reseller News, Computer Reseller News and Tim will no doubt be a valuable addition to the CIO team, and we're glad to welcome him aboard.

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