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Mark Madsen

Open source is becoming a required option for consideration in many enterprise software evaluations, and business intelligence (BI) isn't exempt. This blog is the interactive part of my Open Source expert channel for the Business Intelligence Network where you can suggest and discuss news and events. The focus is on open source as it relates to analytics, business intelligence, data integration and data warehousing. If you would like to suggest an article or link, send an e-mail to me at open_source_links@ThirdNature.net.

About the author >

Mark, President of Third Nature, is a former CTO and CIO with experience working in both IT and vendors, including a stint at a company used as a Harvard Business School case study. Over the past decade, Mark has received awards for his work in data warehousing, business intelligence and data integration from the American Productivity & Quality Center, the Smithsonian Institute and TDWI. He is co-author of Clickstream Data Warehousing and lectures and writes about data integration, business intelligence and emerging technology.


January 2008 Archives

With Oracle's acquisition of BEA now looking like a done deal, the big question is what this means for people looking at infrastructure software. I think it will actually help the open source, because Oracle becomes less appealing in the short term.

Given the massive overlap between application servers, middleware, data integration and Fusion middleware in Oracle, this makes the overlaps and rationalizing products even worse. Oracle has acquired 41 companies in 45 months, a rate that would make the Cisco of the 90's happy. Unlike Cisco, Oracle doesn't seem to be as good at merging the acquired companies into the fold, or rationalizing the software portfolio. That could easily come back to bite them. At WSJ there's a good look into the lack of synergies in acquisitions if you're interested in reading about this in more detail.

As usual with acquisitions, new customers are likely to shy away from the company for a while. Given Oracle's incredibly slow progress (look at Fusion), that could be a long while. Open source tools provide a lower-cost option companies can use while they wait for the market to settle. And maybe when they do, they'll find that it's not such a bad choice. Maybe we'll see a pickup in MuleSource, JBoss, Tomcat, and other open source middleware as the big vendors consolidate.

Update: Matt Asay has a more detailed post describing how the Oracle-BEA deal may already be helping JBoss.


Posted January 16, 2008 1:02 PM
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There have been IPO rumors for quite a while, but I doubt many people expected Sun to buy them. There are some details on the rationale and what Sun is doing to extend MySQL support at Jonathan Schwartz's blog.

This is a sign of maturation of open source: operating systems haven't been as central as other parts of the stack, particularly databases and middleware. Sun's investment here may be a downward sign for Red Hat and Novell, neither of which has done well beyond the operating system. Look at what's happened with JBoss since the Red Hat acquisition. There's still risk for Sun given the challenges they've had with the decline of Solaris and the hardware business.

I did like Schwartz's discussion about a problem open source companies face: startups and tech companies want open source by default, while mainstream companies want commercial support by default:
"But as I pointed out, we heard some paradoxical things, too. CTO's at startups and web companies disallow the usage of products that aren't free and open source. They need and want access to source code to enable optimization and rapid problem resolution (although they're happy to pay for support if they see value). Alternatively, more traditional CIO's disallow the usage of products that aren't backed by commercial support relationships - they're more comfortable relying on vendors like Sun to manage global, mission critical infrastructure."

Personally, I think Sun and MySQL are a good fit. MySQL is close enough to the platform that it doesn't confuse Sun, who seems to have trouble when they move very far from the base platform. MySQL gets a boost in mainstream IT visibility and legitimacy, as well as some new support and service offerings.

Update: I found this Q&A on the MySQL blogs explaining more about the acquisition. One thing I did forget was Sun's commitment to Postgres. I wonder where that's going to go? Other companies haven't been that successful making money there, so could this be something that ends Sun's Postgres support?


Posted January 16, 2008 12:29 PM
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