Hey, Larry, What About Java?

Press reports of Oracle buying Sun imply it's a done deal, and maybe it is. Some of these deals go fast and smooth and others collapse faster than a Jenga stack. Some open source fans may prefer the latter as it's unclear how the commercially oriented Oracle (and boy, is it ever) may not have the love for Java, open source IDEs and MySQL that Sun has.

With the wealth of Sun open tools, it's pretty clear that not all would survive being commandeered by Oracle. Many see NetBeans getting quickly roasted. Beyond that, will Oracle put muscle behind OpenOffice just to irritate Microsoft, or set it adrift? And what about Java itself?

In the short term, all this uncertainty plays to Microsoft's favor, at least in the developer market. Everyone knows that Microsoft and Visual Studio ain't going anywhere and that new products and new versions will steadily appear for years to come.

What should Larry do with the Sun portfolio? Free business advice welcome and passed along at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

VMware Seeds Internal Clouds
VMware loves clouds so much it wants to help you build your own. VMware last year announced a broad strategy to help service providers build clouds, and for IT to do the same. Then these IT clouds can be linked to outside clouds so extra capacity doesn't require more internal servers -- just a fatter WAN connection.

The notion of an internal cloud may be a bit ahead of its time. We wanted to do a full cover story on how to build your own cloud but felt the tools weren't mature enough and IT not quite ready.

VMware hopes its latest cloud tool, vSphere 4, will offer a shortcut. This puppy used to be called VMware Infrastructure (I guess like Microsoft, VMware likes to change product names midstream), and helps IT build clouds based on virtual machines.

The main breakthrough of vSphere 4, as I understand it, is that IT can load up each server with more VMs. The overall idea is that all applications run as services across the virtual servers, stay up via heavy-duty fault tolerance, and always have the right amount of storage through thin provisioning.

Is this really a cloud or just a virtualized and efficient datacenter? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Watching Win 7 Speck by Speck
Some journalists break big stories like Watergate and Monica. Others search the Internet looking for the tiniest of clues to the tiniest of news which we all rush to publish.

Here is one such story: It seems that an Internet reporter found a Windows 7 screenshot and, by looking closely, identified May 5 as the possible day TechNet and MSDN customers could download the release candidate of Windows 7. Heavens to Murgatroyd! 

The only reason I'm bringing you this little speck of news is that you have me excited about Windows 7, because many of you are running the beta and you really like it!

Mailbag: Oracle-Sun, Office Ribbon, More
Readers had mostly positive reactions to the recently announced Oracle-Sun deal, with just a few words of caution mixed in:

I think that you're right. The creative company meets the marketing giant. Could be a great match!
-Chris

I have to agree with you. I didn't see it coming either, but for high-end databases requiring more robust hardware than Intel can offer, Oracle+Sun could be a winning combination to compete against IBM.
-Marc

I think the Oracle acquisition of Sun makes a whole LOT of sense. Oracle's No. 1 platform is Sun; it's their core development platform for the Oracle database. Oracle's DB is heavily Java-centric; their management tools and installers are all Java. They need Java to survive unless they want to rewrite their installers, Oracle Enterprise Manager, etc. Sun now owns MySQL, a free, powerful, entry-level database. Now, THERE'S a good play for Sun/Oracle to build a migration path from MySQL to an enterprise-class DB when your needs "grow up." Databases are highly storage performance-dependent. Sun has a great storage story, excellent products in the disk and tape worlds, and excellent OEM agreements. Now Oracle has the ability to enhance revenue on both sides of the equation: leverage storage with DB engine licenses, or vice-versa. Oracle already had a "preferred" licensing model on Sun's SPARC processors that makes even more sense now. Buy Oracle on Sun and pay less than if you put in on Wintel platforms, etc. Overall, I just think it makes darn good sense.

What was IBM going to do with Sun? Migrate Solaris to PowerPC? More likely just kill it and "migrate" users to AIX. There was no strategic play in that world. Everything Sun has, IBM already has. It was just more of a "buy a competitor and shut them down" play to me than a marriage of technologies.
-Pete

If Oracle acquires Sun, it creates a large-systems-plus-applications rival to IBM. It might work for a while and then die like Unisys or DEC. It moves BOTH Oracle and Sun away from their failed bids to beat Microsoft on low-end servers and high-end desktops.

The Oracle-Sun California tech culture is a far better fit than if IBM absorbs Sun. Such a combination may be the only way to keep Sun's valuable hardware innovations alive for several more years. However, a far better combination would be a Cisco acquisition of Sun. The California tech synergy would still be there but with a far better product fit for both firms.
-Mark

Not sure about how Oracle will deal with the HW/OS mix. They currently are dabbling in Linux distros, though. They do share a similar Bay Area corporate culture, in a way that the Sun/IBM combo didn't.

The real question is: Is $7.4 billion too much to pay to squash a competitor (MySQL)? That open source DB has a large footprint in the Web world. I'll be downloading the latest (last?) version, just in case.
-R.C.Z.

The thing I'm most concerned about is the ripple effect in the open source continuum. Ellison will no doubt kill MySQL, creating a black hole that could suck in many more open source projects.
-Jacob

Meanwhile, Bernie was just impressed by his foresight:

I was right! This was what I wrote to you a few weeks ago. Oracle and Sun make a complementary fit where IBM and Sun overlapped.

I got something right! Wow...
-Bernie

After Friday's mixed bag of responses, these readers share their defense of the Office ribbon:

After getting used to the differences, I love the ribbon. I configure it the way I want it, then double-click to hide it until I need it again.
-Elgin

If Apple had come up with this first, Microsoft would have been seen as copying instead of innovating on their own.

There's nothing wrong with the ribbon that a couple of hours of use won't fix. And for those that really can't stand it, you're only a few keystrokes away from an Internet search for "Office 2007 classic menu."
-Anonymous

I didn't notice anyone mentioning why Microsoft came up with the ribbon interface. It seems that when Microsoft was asking customers what they wanted to see in the next version of Office, 80 percent of what was being asked for was already present! Microsoft realized that instead of adding more features, it had to have a better way to find what was already there. Instead of having to know where something was, clicking down menus, submenus and below, most of the features in Office 2007 are directly visible from the tab. If you aren't sure where to find something, hover your mouse over the ribbon and roll the scroll wheel to view everything with ease.

For me it works, and it seems it works for about half of the population. I have a suspicion that it works best for right-brained folks. My recommendation to everyone who has a problem with the ribbon is to stop resisting and try to adapt. It really takes less mouse clicks once you get the hang of it. And it isn't going away as Microsoft is going to use it more and more.
-Bruce

And finally, Qadar leaves us with a tip:

Did you know you could install Ubuntu Linux 8.10 desktop version as an application on top of XP? (I am not sure about Vista.) It shows up as a dual-boot with XP. You can also uninstall as application from XP. It is very interesting. If you haven't tried, check it out and let your readers know. People like me who do not know anything about Linux can benefit from it.
-Qadar

Check back on Friday for more reader letters, including your thoughts on Microsoft security. Meanwhile, share your thoughts by writing a comment below or sending an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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