Buys spell change for enterprise markets

The enterprise market has seen a couple of major acquisitions which could really shake up the market.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  January 17, 2008

A busy week for technology, between Oracle and Sun opening their wallets to buy up BEA and MySQL; and Apple inviting us to open our wallets to buy its new MacBook Air.

To Apple first, and while there were no great surprises from Macworld, the new ultra-thin MacBook Air certainly looks nice, and sees the multi-gesture touchpad extended to into Apple's laptops. Expect to see more vendors introducing their own version of multi-gesture input and similar technologies like the capacitive touch screens that Dell are introducing to their tablet PCs in future.

One day after all the hype of Macworld, the enterprise market then saw a couple of major acquisitions which could really shake up the market.

Oracle has been dancing around BEA for a while now, and finally decided to split the difference between what it was willing to pay and what BEA wanted to seal the deal, giving Oracle access to BEA's middleware suite.

The worldwide market for portals, process and middleware (PPMW) reached $11.7 billion in 2006 (according to Gartner's figures) and BEA also brings a lot of large enterprise customers to the table. More importantly, BEA's solutions will help Oracle to sort out its existing Fusion middleware project, and sew together all its other applications, making it a serious contender against IBM's WebSphere and SAP's NetWeaver in the middleware game.

Sun's acquisition, of open source database developer MySQL, is possibly an even bigger deal for the company. The buy, regarded by many as a very canny move by Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, brings a lot to the company, and could confirm Sun's renewed claim to relevance.

For a start, there's the nostalgia angle. MySQL's popularity among web companies puts Sun right back in the middle of web business, back to the days when it's blue boxes ran so many of the Web 1.0 players.

MySQL accounts for just a tiny part of the revenues of the database market, but it runs a huge number of web start-ups. The company makes its money through support and customization, and while enterprise customers might not be happy with relying of a smaller ‘open source' vendor for support, an open source database backed by Sun's support capabilities is a much more attractive proposition. The fact that MySQL can count web giants like Google and Facebook among its customers also speaks volumes for its scalability.

The acquisition not only puts Sun back at the centre of the web, but it also puts it top of the pile when it comes to open source. The majority of MySQL deployments run on Linux, and together with Apache WebServer and the PHP/PERL/Python dynamic scripting languages, make up the so-called LAMP stack. Getting MySQL gives Sun a very neat, easily integrated offering that can run on its hardware (could Sun's Solaris replace Linux in the stack?).

All in all, Sun looks to have put together a very neat offering that could give Microsoft's .NET platform a very strong run for its money, and cause concern for Red Hat and IBM. 2008 is off to an interesting start.

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