Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Natalie Lerner, Dana Gardner

Related Topics: Java, SOA & WOA, Oracle

Java: Blog Feed Post

Commentary: Sun’s Oracle Merger

A marriage made in heaven or a deal with the devil?

Mergers & Acquisitions on Ulitzer

With only the ‘you may now kiss the bride’ custom to follow, the Oracle/Sun marriage (or dare I say Sun/Oracle) is now finally complete. After months of legal wrangling which has caused nothing but embarrassment and dwindled Sun’s stature within the market sphere, reports also came out that half of Sun's 27,000 staff will be made redundant. Thus initial indications are clear that Oracle, known for its past agnosticism to open source has an eye for the merger being based on maximizing profit. In the meantime Sun’s competitors are probably smiling wryly as the delay of the merger played into their immediate interests but what threats and challenges does this partnership now pose to the once great open source vendor which did so much for developing the tech and e-commerce industry.

One thing which Oracle will most probably do is address and remediate the main cause for Sun’s tragic decline prior to the days when talk of ‘takeovers’ and ‘falling stock shares’ became the norm. In my humble opinion that was linked to Sun failing to consolidate on its strengths by audaciously venturing into unknown avenues only to find that it couldn’t compete with the existent competition. By spreading itself too thinly the ambitious nature of the company soon led it into labyrinths it couldn’t escape from. One such adventure was its acquisition of StorageTek.

StorageTek, known for their solid modular storage arrays and robust tape libraries had a decent reputation of their own prior to Sun’s takeover. Data Center managers, IT Directors and their like knew they had solid products when they purchased the brand StorageTek but in a miscalculated maneuver, Sun decided to rename all their Storage products with the Sun Microsystems brand. Suddenly Sun’s Sales team had to sell what for the average IT Director was seemingly a new and unproven product based on an unneeded name change. Additionally when these storage products took on the same name as Sun’s other storage company, StorEdge further confusion came into the mix. Couple that with an emerging market for disk based backups, purchasing a company that’s forte was tape libraries didn’t particularly make the best business sense.

So what future does Oracle have in plan for Sun’s current Storage portfolio? One certainty is that the OEM partnership with HDS’ enterprise arrays will continue, but as for their own range of modular arrays the future doesn’t look so promising. In a market with products such as EMC’s Clariion, HDS’ AMS range and ironically Larry Ellison’s Pillar Data systems, the truth of the matter is that Sun’s current modular range simply can’t compete. As cost effective as they are, their performance and scalability were always limited in relation to their direct competitors, something that was already acknowledged by Sun prior to the takeover when they disbanded the SE6920 due to its direct competition with the HDS equivalent USPVM.

Furthermore if Oracle’s push with the Exadata V2 is a sign of things to come, one can hardly see them developing an integrated backup model based on an increasingly frowned upon tape infrastructure made by StorageTek. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with the SL8500 tape library and often wonder in amazement as the robotic arms gesticulate as if they were in the climactic scene from a Terminator movie. But that’s the problem …. it’s so 1990s. Add to the equation the NAS based SUN 7000 Unified Storage System which has received rave reviews and the question resonates as to whether Oracle will forsake its modular storage and tape libraries to further focus on just this trend.

Another venture in which Sun entered yet in hindsight did little to further their reputation was server virtualization. While VMware was taking off at the time with ESX 3 and the magic of Vmotion, DRS, HA, VCB etc. Sun had the dilemma that the server virtualization revolution taking place was compatible on x86 architecture and not Sun’s mainstay SPAARC. Not satisfied with reselling VMware for its x86 platforms, Sun decided to introduce their own version of virtualization which was compatible with their SPAARCs, namely Global zones. With huge monster servers such as the M series, the concept was to have numerous servers (zones) utilizing the resources of the one physical box i.e. the global zone. But in an industry that was moving further towards blade servers and consolidation via virtualization, the concept of having huge physical servers housing several virtual servers that couldn’t be Vmotioned and could only offer high availability by having a cluster of even more huge servers, seemed bizarre to say the least.

No one disputes the great performance and power of Sun’s SPAARC servers but to offer them as a virtualization platform is completely unnecessary. Moreover the x86 platforms which haven’t radically changed over the years apart from their purple casing now being a slicker silver one, have also proved to be less than reliable when ESX is installed upon them. Indeed my only experience of the legendary PSOD was on the one occasion I had witnessed ESX installed on Sun x86 hardware. As RedHat and others make moves into the virtualization sphere with solutions superior to the Sun model, the questions begs as to what role virtualization will hold for Oracle. Larry Ellison has already made it evident that he wants to give full support for the SPAARC, but I’m not so sure, especially when Oracle decided to house Intel Xeons and not Sun SPARCs as the core of their Exadata V2.

As for the excellent host-based virtualization of VirtualBox, the opensource nature of the product simply doesn’t fit in with Oracle’s approach of utilizing its dominant position to leverage big bucks from its customer base. With Oracle also already having Xen-based virtualization technology, I doubt virtualization will remain in the development radar of the newly occupied Sun offices. Come to think of it, will any of the opensource products remain?

Another aspect which worries me even further is the future of Solaris and ZFS. Despite Larry Ellison’s quotes of focusing on Java and Solaris, Solaris administrators still feel a touch uneasy, something which RedHat have taken advantage of by offering discount Solaris to RedHat conversion courses. As for ZFS, I’ve made no qualms as to my admiration of what is the most system admin friendly file system and logical volume manager on the market. But the recent legal wrangling over copyright with NetApp which is sure to escalate and Apple’s subsequent rejection for their OS leaves the revolutionary filesystem in a rather precarious position. Is Oracle going to put up a fight or will it be a case of no profit means no gain?

Despite the great wedding celebrations and fanfare which will inevitably occur during the honeymoon period, I will sadly shed a tear as a fair maiden that believed and stood for the virtues of platform independent technologies is to be whisked off into the sunset by another burly corporate man. One can only hope that the aforementioned kiss is one of love and understanding which will rejuvenate Sun and not a fatal kiss of death.

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...