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Oraclelogo_small Oracle announced today that it will purchase Sun Microsystems. The deal dials down the competition to HP's Unix solution. IBM was near a deal to buy Sun last month, but talks fell through. Oracle said that the $7.4 billion acquisition brings it the most important piece of software Oracle ever purchased: Java. But the world's biggest database supplier sees the Solaris operating system, key to Sun's server solution, as an important prize, too.

There are substantial long-term strategic customer advantages to Oracle owning two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris. Java is one of the computer industry’s best-known brands and most widely deployed technologies, and it is the most important software Oracle has ever acquired.

Oracle's statement goes on to place the Solaris-Oracle combination of OS and database as the best possible for a company choosing Oracle. The future seems to hold special features for Unix customers who choose Sun's hardware.

The Sun Solaris operating system is the leading platform for the Oracle database, Oracle’s largest business, and has been for a long time. With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle can optimize the Oracle database for some of the unique, high-end features of Solaris. Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships.

There's nary a mention in there about HP's HP-UX, but this is an announcement to validate a $7.4 billion Sun purchase. Sun shareholders, and stock regulatory agencies, still have to approve the deal. An HP Unix customer might be glad that Java isn't going inside IBM, but to another software company. Oracle's efficiency, however, has sold and retained many HP-UX customers.

HP 3000 customers who are migrating to one of the Unix or Linux solutions — HP's, IBM's, or Sun's — have seen IBM display egalitarian strategy toward operating systems in its solutions, according to migration service supplier Charles Finley. Solaris was on an equal footing with Linux, unlike the OS at Oracle.

We have one very large customer that we migrated from the HP 3000. We had been working with the customer for at least one year before the customer decided to use SUSE Linux with Virtualization instead of one large [IBM] AIX box. They were offered both by the same IBM sales team who seemed to us to be totally indifferent to which OS was chosen. Perhaps that offers a clue about what they will do with Solaris if the acquisition actually happens.

Moreover, IBM is so committed to Java that you would swear that they already own it.

Pending the deal closing this summer, Oracle will own Java, technology that runs in a few HP 3000 sites but never was a big hit in the 3000 community. The fact that the leading database provider to HP-UX sites now owns a competing OS and hardware platform poses some strategy study for customers. Market share growth has been nonexistant for HP-UX in recent years. Seeing a competing OS land in the hands of a company that Hewlett-Packard must retain as a partner — well, it's never happened before in this market.