Oracle’s Open Source Roll-up?

There has been much chatter about Oracle’s possible plans to acquire open source company JBoss, but I’m hearing that there’s much more to it than Oracle buying a single open source company

The gist: Larry Ellison has allegedly cooked up a plan to do a wide-ranging roll-up of companies in the open-source space. Not just JBoss, but a host of others, from Spikesource to Zend, and more inbetween. About the only sizable o/s company left standing would be Red Hat.

If true — and admittedly it initially struck as nutty wishful thinking from exit-hungry investors in open-source companies — it would be a dramatic out-flanking move by Oracle. They could take the rhetorical high ground in enterprise software marketing, beating relentlessly on Microsoft for its “closed source” product, while  building complimentary support businesses for its newly-expanded open- and closed-source products.


  1. The news coming out of Oracle is, the apps dev teams are working on doing away with propriety stuff like pl/sql and making apps compatible with any Apps server, include IBM Websphere. Even PL/SQL is losing favor. Oracle would market open source tech stack implementation of Oracle Apps on Oracle

  2. What about Sun? Isn’t Sun (sort of) the biggest open-source company? Ignoring their pointless hardware business, that is. I’m thinking mostly of Java and OpenOffice as their primary assets that are thorns in Microsoft’s side.
    I was thinking that Google should buy Sun, but maybe it makes more sense for Oracle, given their enterprise customers.

  3. This is nuts. These companies don’t want to be bought out by Oracle, they want Oracles market. And they will get it.

  4. Hm.. that would imply they were clueful and I’m not there yet.
    Never attribute to Oracle what could be equally explained by stupidity.

  5. Forgot novell ?

  6. SAP is an investor in Zend.

  7. this overlooks the fact that you can’t buy open source communities. It just doesn’t work. Oracle can’t even buy the technology from JBoss, arguably the most important of the troika, since it’s LGPL and they don’t require copyright assignations back to the company. (That said, JBoss does the bulk of its own development.)
    So, Oracle can knock itself out “consolidating” the open source commercial world, but let’s not kid ourselves. The only thing they get from it is a press release and 15 minutes of fame. None of these companies will be highly accretive to them.
    They’re hoping to buy community, but in this they’ll fail. This is a big win for IBM and Geronimo, and for MySQL (though Sleepycat isn’t a direct competitor – Sleepycat is an embedded database, with strong read technology but not ideal for transactions, which is where MySQL increasingly shines).

  8. It’s open source, the only value is the brand and community. Oracle’s brand is better than all of them, so why not simply innovate like crazy in those segments and do so behind the oracle brand? In open source you can’t buy a community (did Novell succeed with Suse?). Much of the open source thing is personalities. If you want to be leaders in php, for example, you don’t have to buy Zend for $100M, you could just buy Andi and Zeev for $5M each…

  9. Michael O'Keefe says:

    Let’s not forget that Oracle has been dabbling in the Open Source world for quite some time; a colleague was quite surprised, when working on the Oracle App Server (to make sure their credit card software would run on it), to find that it was really a repackaged Apache Tomcat, selling for $20K. So they are not buying the software or the developers – they are buying their marketshare, just like they did with PeopleSoft. You can be assured Ellison will change one thing about JBoss – he will run it as a profit making concern, or perhaps as a loss-leader, get the foot in the door type thing.
    Out flanking move? Hardly. They are already playing catchup to IBM (think Eclipse and WSAD), which just purchased Gluecode, and also heavily supports Linux, and many other open source projects. Sun and Oracle are starting to “get” open source. Microsoft still doesn’t, it’s almost against their grain, so I don’t expect Bill changing course on this one. Think back to his preachy letter, about folks copying his BASIC software for the Altair.

  10. end around run looks to me more like a REACH AROUND to Bill Gates!

  11. hey what if Oracle provides a platform for these open source companies without being big-footed? Oracle provides the HR functions, financing, etc., and the companies/entrepreneurs provide good open source products to the world. Oracle gets to package it all into premium “enterprise-ready” companies are comfortable betting on, and we little guys get nice software as a benefit. this could be interesting if Oracle doesn’t revert to type and tries to understand the way things work in this arena.
    i’ve seen companies that ban all open source. its scary to a lot of managers.