I'm not sure whether I should be suprised, disturbed, or complacent. But this morning, I was greeted by a couple major acquisitions in our overall market segment of Database and Application systems.
First off, Oracle has made another major acquisition, this time of BEA Systems. BEA is a major provider of JAVA-based middleware technologies and service-oriented architectures (SOA). This move shores up Oracle's middleware offering and goes a long way towards giving the 2nd largest software maker a more comprehensive set of product offerings to compete with the largest software maker, Microsoft. I'm not really surprised by this move and feel like it makes good sense for Oracle to gain ground in this space. The product lines are complimentary, even synergistic, and the acquisition allows it to gain on competitors like Microsoft and IBM.
In other news, I was a bit more surprised to learn that Sun Microsystems has acquired MySQL in a deal valued at around $1B. MySQL had been a major threat to the low end of the Microsoft SQL Server stack for quite some time. Even more threatening, imo, was MySQL's ability to rally a strongly devoted community to help drive the open-source code base. However, I'm not too sure about this move. Sun has a wide range of hardware and software products, and has had a rocky road at several points in the past. Can a company with such a wide, even diffused focus enable a database product to shine? Tim O'Reilly, one of my heros, seems to think so in his blog commentary. He believes "The acquisition is also a great fit because Sun has staked its future on open source, releasing its formerly proprietary crown jewels, including Solaris, Java, and the Ultra-Sparc processor design". I'll reserve judgement, personally, on the situation but feel like there's great opportunity and great risk in this move for MySQL.
If you're wondering why any of this should matter to a died in the wool SQL Server person, I encourage you to take a look at Linchi Shea's article on "Checking out the Competition". Linchi makes the great point that database platform vendors often try to foist off their latest features as new ideas, when in fact they've been around in other products for year. So it's always good for a SQL Server person to know what the competition is up to because it makes you a better SQL Server profession.
And finally, since I'm talking about broad trends, I really enjoyed Shashank Tiwari's article about dropping backward compatibility. Although his discussion is about Java, I think he makes a very interesting point - that by carrying very heavy loads of backward compatibility features, we limit or even halt the ability of a product to evolve in directions. I don't believe we've reached this point with SQL Server yet. But I feel like we're starting to see a number of new "dead-end routes" for SQL Server, particularly with CLR and LINQ, that may in the end wind up being evolutionary deadweight for the database platform. Undoubtedly, CLR has very valuable use-cases and LINQ might too. But the resistance to these feature sets is quite strong throughout many enterprises, possibly resulting in major areas of investment by the SQL Server development team for what turns out to be, in an evolutionary metaphor, vestigial organs.
Thoughts are welcome! Cheers,