Oracle gets virtualization portfolio with Sun acquisition

Oracle dives in to acquire Sun for $7.4 billion, gaining the hardware, operating system, Java -- and Sun's virtualization portfolio.

News travelled quickly at the thought of Big Blue gobbling up Sun Microsystems for a potential deal reaching $7 billion.  But after little more than two weeks since IBM walked away, it is Oracle that ends up buying Sun, and doing so at a higher price tag of $7.4 billion.

[ InfoWorld's Neil McAllister called the Oracle acquisition of Sun early on. | For the full scoop on the IBM-Sun negotiations, see InfoWorld's special report. ]

Oracle's CEO pointed out in a conference call that Sun's Solaris operating system and Java programming language were some of the main attractions to the acquisition.

"The acquisition of Sun transforms the IT industry, combining best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.  "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. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability, and security go up."

This latest move by Oracle is part of a growing trend of technology companies assembling hardware, software, and services for customers.  And it puts the company in direct competition with IBM and HP.  Heck, even Cisco is talking about getting into the server market with its virtualization-ready servers!  All this crazy talk makes me think of Bill Murray's "dogs and cats living together" Ghost Busters' quote.  I can't wait to see what gets fused together next.

Sun Solaris, Java, and hardware aside, this is also interesting news for the virtualization market.  So what are Oracle's virtualization plans going forward?

Sun offers its own Xen-based platform, xVM Server, still currently in Beta.  And Oracle has been shipping its own hypervisor platform, Oracle VM, also built on the Xen hypervisor technology.  Does this fact make it easier for Oracle to integrate the two offerings?  Oracle VM has for the most part been focused on providing a virtualization platform for its Oracle database software, and the company has been keeping a relatively low profile in the virtualization market.  Will that change?  Sun also provides Oracle with a way to effectively manage the physical and virtual world with its Sun xVM Ops Center management software -- something that could easily beef up Oracle's offering.

Oracle also gets Sun's virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) product and desktop connection broker.  So how far does Oracle want to go down this path?  The desktop market is supposed to be the "next big thing" in the virtualization world, and since Oracle doesn't have a solution here, how big a factor could this have been in the acquisition?  Or how big will it be?

Sun's desktop virtualization solution has also been getting a lot of eyes on it lately.  VirtualBox, acquired from innotek, has proven itself to be quite the popular free and open-sourced desktop virtualization solution.  What will become of it?

Most in the media will probably continue to focus their attention on the integration of the two companies on a high level around the hardware, the databases, the storage, and the operating system.  Me?  I'll be watching to see what happens with the virtualization offerings, of course.

The IBM acquisition of Sun has been in the news now for the last few weeks -- it is the Oracle acquisition news that comes on the eve of VMware's big April 21 announcement around their vSphere product.  I'm sure VMware would have much preferred all eyes focused on their announcement, but while people continue to talk about the Oracle/Sun acquisition this week, I'm sure VMware and vSphere will get more than their fair share of the media coverage.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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