Jeremy Smith's blog

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Why Oracle is Buying Up Open Source Software

I finally figured out why Oracle is buying up all the open source software it can find. At first, it was puzzling to me. I couldn't think of a business strategy for it other than fear and/or the company is run by a bunch of MBAs who don't know how to do anything other than buy up other companies. (I mean, why buy it. Focus on interoperating with it and providing services with-it/supporting-it.) The light finally shone on me when I read Three interesting "Web Development 2.0" responses on O'Reilly:

Let me use an example: back in 1998 if you were building a web-based startup, you were probably running on Solaris/SPARC and using an Oracle database. You were also likely to be running on some sort of a Java servlet engine.


This huge apparatus usually required at least 1 of the following: DBA, sys-admin, release manager, and build manager-- nevermind all of the consultants and vendor people that it took to solve problems that arose from trying to get everything working together.

That's true.

Fast forward to 2005. Anyone still using Solaris/SPARC for web apps is either a moron or a depressed Sun shareholder.


MySQL and Postgres are now considered "enterprise-grade," and if you should be so masochistic as to still want to do Java development on the app-tier, you've got Tomcat, Jetty, and even JBOSS available to you on your platform of choice.

Yep. People today who pay good money for a J2EE application server are the same people who, back in 1999, paid for "Netscape iPlanet web server" because they didn't know you could get a better web server with better support and better features for free.

Now here is the key: every piece of infrastructure is free, has a thriving online community that can help you with issues better than the vendors ever did, and perhaps most importantly, can scale down to run on almost any type of laptop.

So (in case you didn't come to the same conclusion I did after reading all of this) the reason Oracle is buying up all these Open Source companies is that they know their software products are being commoditized and being faded out (i.e. becoming part of the "stack"). They see that all of the new startups are building their services without any Oracle tech in them. Many "enterprise" services are also moving to this same stack. Oracle still wants to stay in this game. They still want this market, so they are hedging and aquiring these companies as a means to an end i.e. staying in this market in the future.

So, it's true, they are just being run by too may MBAs.


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