If you review the recent years of Oracle’s history, you’ll see that its purchase of Sun makes perfect sense. Oracle has tried to get in the OS business (Oracle Ubreakable Linux), the hardware business with their different partnerships (e.g.: Hewlett Packard Partner Relationship), and even into the MySQL business back when they bought InnoBase (Oracle and Innobase).
MySQL was in many ways a leader for the Open Source industry, both in the way the way it marketed OSS and in the way MySQL the company was built. It’s the latter aspect that worries me. MySQL was a world pioneer in having a global workforce and this shaped both its culture and products.
When I joined MySQL in 2001, 90% of the company was distributed outside their native Swedish offices. (When Sun bought it, it was down to 80% outside the Cupertino headquarters, which I’m sure is still more than any large or middle-size corporation can claim.) This meant that they hired the best talent they could find wherever they found it, and that they could follow the talent wherever it went. During my years at MySQL, many people moved around from country to country without affecting their jobs. This diversity and flexibility shaped everything the company did, and indeed, the different backgrounds of those involved greatly influenced the characteristics of MySQL AB’s products and services themselves.
Sun was already deep into distributing its workforce when they acquired MySQL, so of all the big corporations, it was probably the one that best fit MySQL’s culture. Oracle, however, is a very different story, and I’m not sure how the distributed workforce that the Sun and MySQL employees are used to, will fit into the new organization. This change will affect MySQL’s future—I’m not sure how, but it will be very different from the MySQL we know.
(On a side note, although I don’t think Oracle is buying Sun because of MySQL, it looks like the Twitter community thinks so: both #oracle and #mysql are on the top 10 topics right now. Check both Twitter feeds, if nothing else, they’re fun.)