Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oracle-Sun merger: a gathering of opinion

When I heard about Oracle's purchase of Sun, I started contacting those I know in IdM - vendors, consultants, and users - to gather their opinion on what it means both to the industry and to those who use the products. Here's what some people had to say:

I think [this] is a positive change, Sun was suffering from a lack of direction, and Oracle is probably going to get things straight.

Regarding the market, in the software arena is where things are going to be interesting:
MySQL is going to die.
In the identity space I think Oracle products are going to win, that probably means that OpenSSO, glassfish etc are going to suffer a slow death (I am not sure about the dedication of Oracle to OpenSource). I still think that the Directory is going to be the only part of sun that has a potential to live.
This sets an interesting landscape in which those employees that are fired (or made redundant :) ) as they might take the OpenSource code and spin off a company that makes a living out of that (something along the lines of unboundID).

Regarding Symlabs as a company I do not expect to see major changes, as the clients that prefer Oracle are going to prefer Sun, it also means that the VDS from Sun is never going to see the light (OVD is a good product).
In the federation space the oracle product would probably stay and we have always had a good relationship with oracle (from our IGF collaboration).

- Antonio Navarro, Symlabs
My view: The directory will survive. Everything else is suspect (including Open SSO).

- Mike
Neuenschwander, MyCroft
1. Larry Ellison wants an operating system so that he can pee with the Big
Guys. And hey, what's a few billion more or less?

2. Larry is just about the uncoolest person in the world a far as the open
source community goes. And HE is going to own Java? Give me a break!

- Tim Cole, Kuppinger-Cole
In the identity management space, Sun and Oracle are direct competitors and Oracle will likely want to consolidate products.

1. Directory: Oracle’s OID is core to Oracle’s platform, as it uses the database as a back end. On the other hand, Sun’s directory server is much more widely deployed, despite some reliability problems. Hitachi ID predicts that Oracle will add the ability to use an Oracle database as a back end to Sun’s directory server and use the resulting software to replace OID.

2. User provisioning: Architecturally, Sun’s identity manager product (Waveset acquisition) has serious performance and scalability problems, since it keeps a significant amount of user profile data in a complex XML object stored in each user’s LDAP directory object. As a result, Oracle will will likely ask Sun IDM customers to upgrade to Oracle’s product (Thor acquisition). Sun IdM customers will not accept an upgrade option unless the new product has all of the same functionality and there is a reasonably automated migration process. This means that Oracle will have to spend a significant amount of time and product engineering effort to:
  • (a) Find the functional and integration gap between the Sun and Oracle user provisioning products.
  • (b) Close the gap so that the Oracle (formerly Thor) product covers 100% of the capabilities of the Sun product.
  • (c) Develop a migration program to help customers move from the Sun to the Oracle product.This process will likely take 1–2 years and consume most of Oracle’s IdM product engineering bandwidth, effectively ruling out any major improvements in either product during that time.
3. Role management: Sun’s acquisition of Vaau was mostly intended to impress influencers such as analysts and press. Hitachi ID’s evaluation of Vaau convinced us that the Vaau product was totally unworkable (we could not get it to even load a real-world data set from a mid-sized company). It follows that this product will be replaced by Oracle’s role manager (Bridgestream acquisition).

4. Web access management: Sun has had no luck selling its WebAM/WebSSO product, and has consequently open sourced it. As an open source (and importantly: no license fee) product, this product has quickly improved both in quality and market acceptance.
Oracle’s acquisition in this space (Oblix) has reasonable market share and is architecturally robust. Oracle will likely be forced to maintain both products – one commercial and one free – going forward.

5. Federation: Neither Oracle nor Sun seem to have a large market share for their federation technologies, so this space remains open to strategic changes. Hitachi ID does not have any special insight about where this market segment will wind up, though the volatility in the market may well create an opening for the user-centric and claims-based technology being developed by Microsoft.

- Idan Shoham Hitachi ID Systems, Inc.
Huge layoffs at Sun--more than already anticipated (5-6K),

Huge change of culture at Sun,

Huge psychic impact on IT domain

* mega-consolidations, not just M&As

* concern for independence of JAVA, Open Source OSs, MySQL (this more so because of Oracle's db)

* hegemony of Oracle within world-class db farms

Oracle may be a better fit for Sun [than IBM]-- (Solaris/Sun platform, Oracle Fusion)

* Intensive use of Java by Oracle

* Oracle does not have IBM's data-storage model/infrastructure

* Oracle may not be anywhere near as stifling as IBM to Sun's innovation model

* Sun still has truck loads of talent that could be leveraged by Oracle

Christopher Paidhrin, IT Security Officer, ACS Healthcare Solutions
I think it will significantly strengthen Oracle's position in the identity space. They will be a strong player. Sun started Liberty, and now Oracle is driving it.

Dick Hardt, Sxipper (and Microsoft).
[B]etween the two companies they have a glut of products that will need rationalization. It's practically the whole stack from directory up to role management and beyond. A clear roadmap of product rationalization will be needed quickly in order to prevent customer chaos. No matter what, there are products that will have to go. This is an opportunity for the other vendors like IBM, Microsoft and Quest to step in during the turmoil. This really goes to show that no bet - established suite vendor or otherwise - is necessarily a safe bet!

Jackson Shaw, Quest
Consolidating the identity management market further was undoubtedly not one of the top 5 reasons that Oracle acquired Sun but this will definitely be one of the many ripples that occur from this deal. Clearly there is significant product overlap, so there is probably going to be a period of anxiety for both Oracle and Sun identity management customers regarding which product from the Sun or Oracle portfolio wins out in the end when the merged product roadmap is finally announced.

- Tom Kemp, Centrify
This move represents further consolidation in the Identity and Access Management (IAM) market. While they were once a leader in the IAM space, recently Sun has struggled to maintain its momentum and market share. This has been due, in part, to Sun's focus on re-stabilizing their server business, instead of focusing on their IAM technologies. After recently shopping themselves around for acquisition by other major technology players like IBM and Cisco, the Oracle acquisition calls into question the future viability of Sun's IAM product line. Oracle has its own IAM suite that is well positioned in the market with 5.1 percent market share compared to Sun's 1.4 percent market share.

- Jay Roxe, Director of Product Marketing, Novell
It's safe money that there will be a period of both uncertainty and difficulty as both Oracle and Oracle/Sun customers rationalize their environments and offerings. For companies looking to make a decision, should they buy & deploy a stack now and hope their efforts are not scrapped by the vendor OR should they go with the the stack alternative that's always been there, has great references, a very healthy business, and lives and dies by this space?

- Chris Sullivan, Courion Corp.
In the Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) fields, both companies have full stacks of competing products - Oracle's stack being even a little more complete. It will be an interesting exercise - assuming that the merger is approved - for the teams from Oracle and Sun to sit together at the drawing board and plot the future product strategy. There will eventually have to be the axe for many of the products - "eventually" being the key word here. For near to medium future, it'll be integration in the style of Oracle: to carry multiple overlapping products in the portfolio at the same time, renaming the products and the installation directory, and slapping a new logo onto them. The actual evolutive "integration" will be much further down the road. When it comes to that, Oracle can learn from Sun Microsystem even while it is worth pointing out that Oracle had a clear strategy for real implementation in the IAM field from the very beginning of its acquisition tour and has made significant progress on that. However, Oracle still has a long way to go there - and integrating the complex Sun portfolio for IAM and GRC won't make things easier.

- Felix Gaehtgens and Martin Kuppinger, Kuppinger-Cole

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The Hitachi guys do not have a clue about what Sun's Identity Manager is. If I was a customer, I'd think twice before hiring them: Who says Sun's IdM needs a LDAP to store its configuration? It uses a database (ANY, the one customer rathers), and only for configuration purposes, so there are no performance issues at all (ask the Marine corps, with 400K users).
Well, I didn't know they had something else apart from disks, so I cannot blame them too much.
Maybe the opinion from the Hitachi guy is biased by the fact that they have the same products, and that they are seeking for an opportunity to steal Sun and Oracle's market?
Jerry -

the "Hitachi guys" have been doing eProvisioning for longer than Sun has. And recommending an LDAP interface says nothing about the underlying datastore...

Are they looking to pick up dis-satisfied Sun Customers? You betcha - but so is everybody else.
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