Two major acquisitions in the software infrastructure space have been announced recently: Oracle is buying BEA, while MySQL is being taken over by Sun. However, the two acquisitions could not be more different. Oracle's primary motive is to remove a rival from the marketplace, while Sun views MySQL as an investment opportunity.
Oracle's initial approach to BEA had been rejected by BEA's board, and reading between the lines it was clear that BEA would fight tooth and nail to prevent the acquisition from happening. It appears that BEA shareholders wanted the deal to go through, and that BEA's board was unable to clinch an acquisition deal with a less predatory purchaser. The financial terms of the deal, based on an improved offer by Oracle, certainly appear good value for BEA's shareholders. Now BEA's board has no option left but to approve the offer in order to avoid the drawn out and damaging legal wrangling that has been a feature of other Oracle acquisitions.
MySQL was in a different position. It appears that the company needs to generate additional funds in order to bring its products into the mainstream database management system (DBMS) market and to compete directly with Oracle and IBM. Until recently it looked as though this would take the form of going public, but an acquisition by a substantial company, such as Sun, is a viable alternative. From Sun's perspective, the acquisition fills a major gap in its software infrastructure product portfolio, and fits well with its piecemeal movement towards open source distribution.
BEA does have some valuable technology (such as JRockit) that will be additive to Oracle's products, and it will also bring a significant ongoing legacy maintenance revenue. However, there should be little doubt that Oracle's primary motive is to remove a major competitor from the marketplace, while using the accretive revenue to push it into the number one spot in several middleware technology areas, ahead of its remaining principle rival IBM.
To make good on the revenue promises, Oracle must maintain the loyalty of BEA's customer base, and this means taking a long-term view of the consolidation of the two product lines, as well as the retention of a sizeable percentage of BEA's development, sales, and customer support staff. It is most unlikely that BEA customers will come under any pressure to migrate to Oracle Fusion middleware - at least in the short or medium term.
From Sun's perspective, MySQL is an investment opportunity that aligns well with its Java Enterprise System middleware, and it is timed well to catch the current enthusiasm for open source as a distribution model. Given the previous misunderstanding of Sun's approach to open source, the company will need to be extremely clear in its messaging and describe exactly what the business model is and how a commercial organization the size of Sun can operate realistically, and for the long term, with a portfolio of open source products.
It remains to be seen whether the change of ownership can elevate MySQL to the point where it can realistically challenge Oracle and IBM to join the DBMS market leadership. Because of the open source model it is almost impossible to directly compare the adoption of the products. It is certainly true that MySQL has been deployed widely, but it has yet to make significant inroads into the strategic or enterprise DBMS market. This is as much a problem of perception as technology, and Sun will need to have its marketing team working overtime to achieve that transition.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)
Read more ...