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Meet the world's premier open source vendor - Sun

Red Hat, Dell, IBM and HP get SAMPed

The LAMP stack is all the rage, and Sun appears to have found the cheapest way into buying a letter - maybe two.

Sun could well have applied its billions in cash toward grabbing Red Hat. (Let's say $5bn.) Buy why bother?

First off, Sun would need to spend far more to acquire Red Hat. Then, it's battling away with rivals IBM, HP and Dell over the whole proposition, warring with open source zealots afraid of Sun's stewardship and in fighting over Solaris vs. Linux.

As we see it, Sun's only real motivation to buy Red Hat would be to kill it off and pitch the open source Solaris as a replacement, leaving the world with a pair of major server operating systems rather than three.

Canonical stands a cheaper option for Sun if it does want to do the Linux thing, and it may well buy the firm one day.

In the meantime, Sun has busted right into the vibrant gut of the Linux market by grabbing the M. Red Hat can sit on the box. Sun will go ahead and own your data layer though, thank you very much. In addition, Sun gets the attention of thousands of developers, including many of those P folks.

(And, er, take that, Google. Sun will have your development work and loyalty. Many thanks.)

The Open Lock-in

Go big picture, and you find Sun's massive open source claims legitimized. We're talking about the company that funds OpenOffice, that sells the very popular Lustre file system, that will own the most popular open source database and that provides some of the world's most sophisticated open source operating system code. I'm trying to think of a larger, proper open source company and am struggling.

In this context, can those folks out there that hate Solaris because of its proprietary past keep up the anger? Is SAMP any less genuine as an open source stack than LAMP? I don't think so.

(Emotional aside: Dear god, how did Red Hat let this happen? It could have solidified its place as the center of the open source universe and gained permanent leverage over the ever crucial database layer. Instead, it allowed another operating system vendor to grab the database running on most Red Hat servers. Yikes.)

The MySQL buy adds a thick layer of meat to Sun's open source story and must spook Oracle, Microsoft, IBM (DB2 side) and Red Hat.

I wonder, however, how much it spooks HP, Dell and IBM (hardware side). After all, the server realm hosts Sun's real battles.

All of the hardware makers have near equal access to MySQL and MySQL's customers. Now Sun receives the luxury of paying for the development of this software that everyone can use.

But, if you're more likely to buy into MySQL and to buy a support contract now that Sun is behind the company, are you more likely to buy hardware from the company backing the database? I'm just not sure.

Historically, Sun has tried and failed and tried and failed at moving web and application servers on top of its hardware at anywhere near the pace of rivals. In addition, it has been promoting and selling open source databases as an option with its servers for quite a long time.

Given those facts, Sun can only make that $1bn price tag count if it can get past the middleware failures of yesteryear while also improving the database-tied-to-Sun-hardware equation.

Is Sun up to this challenge? It seems to think so.

My, did things just get interesting. ®

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