So much for that. According to reports, Sun Microsystems has rejected IBM's buyout offer, apparently preferring to stick to the dogma that says Sun is still a vibrant, thriving company with a bright, independent future. At this juncture, I'd like to take a moment to offer the following public service announcement to any Sun employees in the audience: That's not Kool-Aid you're drinking.
More to the point, with IBM out of the picture, we're left with the uncomfortable prospect that some other suitor might step in to fill the vacuum. My pal Paul Venezia thinks Cisco might be interested in acquiring Sun, and one of the kookier rumors has Dell as a possibility.
[ For the full scoop on the IBM-Sun negotiations, see InfoWorld's special report ]
Neither scenario seems likely. Both assume that Sun's server business is its most attractive asset, which I question. If you added all of Sun's server revenue to Dell's, it still wouldn't equal what Hewlett-Packard earns from server sales. And if Sun were to simply disappear, Dell would surely gain at least some of Sun's share of the server market anyway -- so what would be the point of a buyout? What's more, I doubt that either Cisco or Dell would know what to do with Sun's software business.
But Oracle would. In fact, Oracle might stand to gain even more from Sun's software assets than IBM would -- so much so that I rank Oracle as the top (perhaps the only) potential buyer left for Sun. The shame of it is that if such a deal were to go through, I suspect that in the long run, Oracle's gain would be our loss.
Is MySQL doomed?
First off, let's dispense with the notion that Oracle would acquire Sun with the goal of scuppering MySQL. That wouldn't be worth Oracle's time, let alone the money. Oracle's annual database sales are measured in billions; any sales lost to MySQL barely make a dent.
And that even assumes that Oracle is losing sales to MySQL, which it isn't, really. Anyone who understands databases knows that for the high-end, mission-critical applications that drive Oracle's highly lucrative sales -- government, finance, oil and gas, and so on -- MySQL isn't even a player.
Sun knows it, too. When Sun acquired MySQL AB for $1 billion last year, CEO Jonathan Schwartz said that while Sun "will scale MySQL to extraordinary heights," it would not try to compete with Oracle. It was MySQL's rapidly growing installed base of 11 million deployments that attracted Sun, not its technology.