Monday, 20 April 2009

Oracle buys Sun, but what does it mean for CM ? Updated

Updated 21st April - Please scroll down and read the comment left by Jorge from Liferay, who thank for keeping on the straight and narrow as far as the LifeRay portal :-)

So much for the earlier rumours of a joint Oracle-HP bid for Sun, instead the lean (?) mean acquisition machine goes for it again !

However swallowing the whole of Sun Microsystems with its own micro-processor designs, serious server hardware and its own operating system is not the same as taking onboard JDE, Siebel et al.

Nope, this one is going to take some more digesting, and could give Oracle some serious heart burn. However lets leave the discussion of indigestion for later analysis, instead lets think a little about what this means on the information management and content managment front;

Well first of all, Sun did not provide a CMS or an ECM system at all, so whats the big deal you might ask ? Java is the big deal I will respond !

The Java language and platform is a very big deal in enterprise IT, and it is of course the underpinning platform and architecture for many a content management system. Many pundits where worried about IBM getting their blue fingers all over Java, but is stewardship going to any better under Larry Ellison's team ? I really don't know and jury is going to be out on this one for a while, as is the whole issue of Oracle and open source in generally, highlighted by how Oracle will deal with the MySQL database.

Web portals are another confusing area, Sun had pretty much deprecated the old Sun Portal in favour of another open source product, LifeRay. However Oracle has swallowed up more portals than you can 'shake a stick at' (as we say in Yorkshire). So I don't see LifeRay getting a lot of attention when there is already the work being done to meld all the best elements from the old BEA (PlumbTree) AquaLogic product line into the WebLogic line to emerge as the Oracle WebCenter suite.

As for the hardware, well I can see where Sun's new massively hyper-threaded CPU's will provide a great platform for egually massive Oracle databases, and its ZFS file system and disk storage systems will provide a full on Heirarchical Storage Management (HSM) environment below Oracle Universal Content Management (aka Stellent).

So as they say in North America, Oracle can provide the full 'soup to nuts' enterprise IT environment:
1. Servers and highly robust operating system (Solaris)
2. storage (disks arrays, file systems and HSM elements)
3. The database !
4. Middleware
5. Applications (be they ECM, CRM, ERP, messaging and collab etc...)

I am still trying to figure out what the Yorkshire version of soup to nuts is? "From Ale to Yorkshire Pudding"........??

Perhaps the 'alternative' stack might be offered at the lower end of the spectrum ? Oracles' 'Unbreakable Linux' plus MySQL plus LifeRay..... etc on HP or other partners hardware (on Intel x86 architecture).

Well, all we can do now is spectate, so pull up a comfy chair, and lets sit and watch the spectacle unfold before our very eyes.... :-)


Jorge said...


Disclaimer: I work for Liferay the main company behind Liferay Portal

Just to avoid any potential confusion I wanted to add that Liferay Portal is an Open Source product and is completely independent of SUN. They just have a partnership with Liferay to build SUN Websynergy/Webspace on top of it.

That means that Liferay Portal will still be under the heavy development and good support as it's had so far.

Bryan Cheung said...

Hi Jed,

First, like Jorge I should disclaim that I work for Liferay, Inc.

Thanks for the post. There will definitely be a major shift in the dynamics of open source with this acquisition. Independent commercial open source vendors like Liferay will become more important as we collectively attempt to fill the void left by the absence of Sun's OSS leadership. It's a daunting task, but we are dead set on fighting the hegemony of the red and blue incumbents, and we're making a difference one customer at a time.

As for the portal market, there's obviously been a lot of consolidation, and we think it's a great time for companies running Oracle and BEA portals to migrate to strong open source alternatives like Liferay Portal.

And as Jorge mentioned, Liferay, Inc. is a fully independent corporation with enterprise subscription offerings, 24x7 global support, professional services, and a full network of integration partners to help our customers build open solutions.

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