April 20th, 2009 by Mark Rittman
So you’ve probably heard the news now, that Oracle have agreed to buy Sun, the makers of Solaris, SPARC chips, lots of application servers, servers and storage units and of course Java. IBM were originally in the running but backed-off due to anti-trust concerns, now it looks like Oracle have won the prize. So what does this mean for Oracle business intelligence and data warehousing?
Well, to be honest it’s not all that clear, especially seeing as Oracle’s favoured hardware partners and operating system seem to be HP and Linux rather than Sun and Solaris. Sun weren’t an especially big player, directly, in the BI&DW market, although their hardware used to power most cutting-edge data warehouses back in the late 90′s and even today, those customers who’ve not gone down the RAC route tend to use Solaris and SPARC hardware to host their large-scale data warehouses. I’ve not personally perceived Sun as being so relevant these days, with the architectural advantages of SPARC chips being less pronounced these days, and a general move amongst the industry towards Linux and commodity blade hardware. Sun do in fact have their own DW appliance initiative, in conjunction with Greenplum and PostgreSQL, which presumably won’t be around for much longer, and in fact it’s in this area that I can see Sun’s hardware business having its focus in the future – as a means for Oracle to build off of what they’ve done with Exadata and Database Machine to create highly-tuned, highly-optimized appliances for the running of Oracle databases, application servers and Fusion applications.
I guess also part of the move was defensive in that Oracle wanted to firstly, make sure whoever bought Sun had the same commitment to Java (on which most of Oracle’s products are based), and secondly make sure someone like IBM didn’t get Java and therefore place much of Oracle’s architectural underpinnings in the hands of a major competitor. Oracle’s own BI products are a mix of pure Java (the legacy BI tools like Discoverer), bits of C++, Java and .NET (from the Siebel side) and a mish-mash of lots of technologies from the Hyperion side. Going forward, I would imagine this means Java will be even more central to Oracle’s (BI) tools strategy, we’ll have even more Java application servers (though presumably Weblogic will stay the strategic direction), and we’ll have even more focus on end-to-end BI and DW appliances; and maybe, we’ll see mySQL start to appear in entry-level BI products from Oracle, or even have Oracle BI support/ship mySQL in the BI SE One variant? We’ll have to wait and see.
So, it’s a takeover that’s obviously not got BI and DW as it’s rationale, but I think we’ll see spin-off benefits in the areas of DW appliances, more optimized storage solutions and perhaps optimization going through to the server, network and even the operating system level, especially if the engineers behind Solaris and ZFS start to contribute towards Oracle’s Linux, storage and hardware strategy. For the time being though we’ll have to wait and see what happens, one thing I do know though is that surely, they’ll either have to run a technology Open World and an apps Open World separately now, or maybe even move to Las Vegas in the future if Oracle want to run a single annual event for all their customers?