Thoughts on Oracle's handling of Sun's open source and virtualization assets

I was reading a post Mark Hurd Descends into Hell written by Roger Kay, an old friend and former IDC colleague. It struck me as interesting that Roger would write a different take on something I was considering for a post here. I was thinking about commenting on what has happened to Sun's virtualization and open source assets since Sun was acquired by Oracle.

What I've been hearing

My half-baked thoughts on that commentary centered on what I've been hearing from a completely unscientific combination of comments from Kusnetzky Group clients during advisory sessions, chance conversations with attendees at conferences I've attended, and even comments respondents made during survey interviews for several projects.

Random, unscientific, statistically useless input

Here are a few random, half formed thoughts based upon that clearly unscientific, statistically useless input. I have been hearing complaints and grumbles about the following topics:

  • Oracle has a very different view than Sun about open source projects. How OpenOffice.Org and Java are being managed has angered a number of people. I imagine that if I dug into how other open source projects Sun had lovingly fostered and now are being managed by Oracle I'd hear more of the same.
  • How Oracle is dealing with virtual environments is another hot area. I'm hearing complaints about Oracle's licensing, terms and conditions, and support policies. Oracle appears happy to support its software products in any virtual machine environment as long as it comes from Oracle, which is, by the way, their packaging of the open source Xen hypervisor. While it appears that the company will make some support efforts on behalf of its customers using other hypervisors, the company appears to be trying to force its customers to acquire and than reproduce observed problems in an Oracle VM environment. If we consider the leaders in that market as a whole, the overwhelming majority of Oracle customers are using virtual machine technology from VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and Red Hat not Oracle VM.
  • Oracle announced that it is dropping support of its database software on HP's Itanium-based systems (see HP vs. Oracle over Itanium: A look at your options for more analysis of that move. While Oracle's announcement is similar to those made previously by Microsoft and Red Hat, I'm hearing more comments from users of Oracle database products on HP's Itanium systems.

While it is unlikely that Oracle's unhappy customers are going to bolt and abandon all of their investments in Oracle and Sun products today, what  is likely is that others, such as IBM or Dell, are going to get closer examination the next time a hardware or software refresh cycle are scheduled in those customer's IT infrastructure. IBM has a much better reputation in the open source community and offers its own, well regarded operating systems, development tools and database products.

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