Another buyout. Who’s next?

Another big acquisition from shopaholic giant. Finally Oracle bought Sun Microsystems.

Anyways..I’ll leave other analysts to comment on hardware/storage/cloud computing and other areas. I am more interested to speculate the future of software products from Sun, example Sun Portal, Access Manager, Directory Server, and other open source projects. Here is my take in that –

Oracle already have five portals under its belt, out of with they have clearly indicated of taking Webcenter, Aqualogic and Weblogic forward.

With this buy out, Oracle might dispose Sun Portal, as this product from Sun is not doing great from last few years, even after Sun made heavy investments and revamped its portal suite during ’06-07. Sun failed to generate more ROI and is now supporting only its top 100 customers.

I also fear that it might be a dead end for all open source initiatives from Sun, as Oracle has never shown any interest in the Open Source arena. This might badly affect project Websynergy and Webspace (Liferay-Sun combo Prj), NetBeans IDE, PostgresSQL etc.

I think, Liferay is becoming more vulnerable for acquisition by Oracle as Sun had an interest initially and still have few ongoing projects with Liferay.

On the greener side, Oracle will get benefited with Sun’s IDM suite as Access Manager & Directory Server are widely used and now Oracle will have a reply to IBM’s Tivoli suite.

Let’s wait and watch what next will come under Oracle’s Business Process Management tag.

Oracle-Bea, Portals,Portals everywhere !!

Is the portal market going to see another acquisition by Oracle? Though Bea has denied the deal of $6.66 bn as “too low”, but as we know Oracle has a history of acquiring BIG companies and maintaining multiple products of same line. BEA and Oracle own two Portal products each (Aqualogic and Weblogic) and (Oracle Portal and webcenter), respectively.

If in case, the acquisition happens then in my view it will be relatively hard for Oracle to maintain and sell these portal products as Oracle is concentrating and investing huge in its webcenter suite and has a roadmap of releasing the next version i.e. Webcenter 11g very soon.With so many like products and no clear
feature demarcations of which product will cater to which type of customer its going to be a big challange for the sales team.

Looking from another perspective, Oracle surely will have business benefits with this acquisition as –
1) Oracle will eliminate a very big competitor.
2) Oracle portal is quite old and is in the edge of retirement and Oracle Webcenter is new in the portal market and is more developer centric. Oracle will revive with having aqualogic and weblogic in its main portal product stream
3) With Aqualogic and Weblogic from BEA, Oracle surely will have more and better products to sell.
4) As BEA Weblogic application server leads the middleware market and Oracle standalone application server lags far behind. Selling Bea appserver is going to add huge $$$ in Oracle’s account.
5) Oracle will also get boost to its SOA strategies, as both the companies have invested heavily on the SOA paradigm.

Apart from the above stated products, Oracle will rethink in supporting the other Bea products and suites as they may lag behind when compared to Oracle’s home grown products for example, BPEL solution and Presence Solution

Lets wait another leap that Oracle going to make and keep eye in the next quarter results.

“Portals” and “Portal-like”

Few days’ back I got to know about the something called “portal-like” . wow…a new word and a new concept after Collaboration, Web2.0 and SOA in the portal space. Drilled down a little deeper I came to know that this concept make sense when it comes to mid-size enterprise ,here it goes….

Portals Implementation gives you the solution but with a huge investment of money, infrastructure, resources and support.
Mid sized Customers who wants the portal features (with less investments) now can use the “Portal-like” products to leverage the features what a portal offers. These “Portal-like“ frameworks uses the Jsp, Jsf environment as a core language to built the applications and provide the addition runtime environment (portlet container) to consume/include the portlets on top of the jsp, jsf application. These frameworks support the deployment of standard based portlets (jsr168, wsrp1.0) together with the vendor specific portlets.
End users can also be provided with “virtually” customization features that will be a part of JSF/JSP/AJAX implementation.
These products are well suited where the core application takes more functional space than the utility portlets, which is opposite in the case of actual portal implementation.

There are few pros and cons of these frameworks/tools/products –
Pros
1) Comparatively less investment than the Portal product
2) No portal expertise required to develop “Portal-like“ application
3) Use of standard based pre-built portlets (blogs,wikis,cms,rss etc )
Cons
1) Application can not be easily scaled to portlets in the near future 🙂
2) Cannot be used as Integration point with other Enterprise/legacy applications.
3) Confidence of the customer towards the solution vendors.

The Introduction of such a framework is done by Oracle with its Web Center Suite. That provides the Content Integration, Runtime Customization, Metadata Management and Communication Services (Again a new Word for me “Presence Server”)

Commercializing Open Source

The cloud thickens on the strategy of the open source vendors….“The enterprise fraternity” are keen on acquiring smaller rival companies with open sourced software and after acquisition, only unveil a part of the software that remained open sourced before, Then doesn’t the whole idea of open source get flouted? Another heating debate could be on the possible reasons for acquiring such firms that are open sourced. Typically, an open sourced company is learnt to be earning from the product’s maintenance, installation and support unlike, their product counterparts that derive from the licensed product copies as well. So, there seems to be a basic clash on the ideals of the two entities. Is this strategy a result of the fear in the biggies that the smaller ones could eventually overtake them as they gather more supporters for open sourced version.

A historical data on some such developments on this front that testify this:-

Oracle acquired Innobase an open source software company and a developer of transactional database technology, the software was distributed under the GNU GPL open-source license and was bundled with MySQL. Currently, it is reportedly in talks to acquire three open-source companies to expand its customer base .In return, it announced a free, low-end version of its database software thus, letting the world know about their commitment to opensource. Oracle also plans to buy Jboss Inc ,another opensource company and a leader in the application server market .

IBM last year bought Gluecode Software,which offers an application server based on apache Geronimo project. The give and take business is not new as IBM bundles with WebSphere, and it contributed an embedded database called Derby to Apache.
Bea Systems open sourced a version of its relational database mapping tool “Kodo” under an Apache license, while continues to offer BEA Kodo under a closed source license.
Sun Microsystems looked at open source community to revive itself , open sourced Solaris and JES.

At some point this may be a good deal for the customer as now they have a quality, open, and a low-priced(a bit more) product which is now backed ie supported by a branded company. So I think the product which was originally “true open source software” turns to have only source open.

My concern is that people who contribute to the open source software (apart from the employees of the open source company) is a vast community of developers, architects, designers who believe in sharing knowledge much to the relief of the smaller firms or developers that cannot afford licensed copies. However, with such moves industry wide, would this give enough leverage & credit to the people who contribute to this wealth of information or who use this information. Wouldn’t then the trend to contribute and share knowledge, then discouraged if this trend of acquiring smaller open sourced cos by the big giants continue?

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