The "Unbreakable" Oracle, breaking everything.

A brand that lingers from the late 1970’s to current, It joins the ranks of IBM and Apple. The (Un)breakable Oracle now saddles an unfair share of the community. With their aggressive campaign and acquisition of Sun Microsystems, they control software which sends your tweets and makes your facebook google+ posts. They own the rights to their legacy propitiatory db products, mysql, innodb, java, openoffice, solaris, virtualbox, and now ksplice(1).

What is the big deal?

Oracle owns java. Java is a programming language that was designed so applications can be executed independent of platform. This is accomplished by the java runtime environment acting as a proxy, handling interactions with the operating system instead of the program itself. Lightweight virtualization. It’s not known for being fast, but it enables a developer to write a single program that functions on all the operating systems which the runtime environment is available. Java became extremely popular after its official release in 1995, being mostly used for web based client/server thing-a-ma-jigs and embedded nick-nacks. Chances are the cell phone in your pocket is a java based device, unless it’s a fruit phone, or made in 2003. This includes devices sporting the fast growing, open source, android operating system, which is developed by a small company called google.

Oracle also owns mysql, which was developed by MySQL AB, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems, which was acquired by Oracle, which now owns two of the three most widely used database software systems in the world. The structured query language databases is the storage platform for the dynamic content your blogging or ecommerce content management system uses, almost always in the form of mysql for open source applications. If it wasn’t for the MicroSoft implementation, we may have seen a super fun antitrust lawsuit preventing Oracle from purchasing Sun Microsystems.

Oracle owns openoffice. Openoffice is an open source office application suite, providing a stable, robust, and free implementation of word processing, spreadsheet, and other common applications needed for general office productivity. It also happens to be the most robust replacement for the classic MicroSoft product we have all grown to love hate.

Oracle recently sniped a company/product that is grown to be critical for those of us in the GNU/Linux server management world called Ksplice. This product allows updates to the linux kernel without rebooting. It became popular amongst hosting providers, enabling them to maintain a secure environment with the latest critical bug fixes and security patches, while gaining ridiculous uptime and bypassing the barrage of customer service contacts generated from the 65 seconds it takes to reboot a server.

Is this just and advertisement for Oracle products? What could possibly go wrong?

No, it is not, and everything.

Oracle now has proprietary financial influence, brand copyrights, and control over the trajectory of technologies used to develop and drive a wide array of products you use, unknowingly or not, on a daily basis.

The open source fork of the solaris operating system which resulted in the development of zfs was disbanded by its lead developers within weeks of the purchase of Sun due to Oracles inability to provide clear support of the project and direction for future development.

The turn Ksplice is taking was made quite clear with Oracles announcement of acquisition.

“Oracle does not plan to support the use of Ksplice technology with Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Enterprise Linux. The Oracle Linux Premier Support subscription applies to Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel.”
Great. We now have to buy an Oracle branded linux kernel to get support. See where this is going?

The extensive market saturation is frightening. The influence this single corporation has on the most commonly used and freely available applications to build IT infrastructure is nothing less than reminiscent of the grip Redmond maintains over modern computing. This is a full on assault, attempting to leverage technology and control the market majority of a minority market. A model of a single company which more or less calls the shots, and squashes the products they don’t view as financially viable.

The beautiful thing about “unix like” software is the wide variety, originality, for the most part freely available, and endless possibilities of implementation. It’s not difficult to find a solution for your requirements, and if you can’t find a robust one, there is a good chance someone else has already started development of something that will fit your needs. You can comb through roughly thirty years of methodology and design practices to find anything from the refined, well tuned, and robust, to the bloated, broken, and compounded horrific decisions. Though its all there, and some of the clunkers are still the best despite their almost ancient appearance.

A single entity with self interest and sole purpose of sustainability with financial growth controlling a wealth of very important technologies will cause a fundamental drift towards stagnation. All the projects will shift focus towards integration, instead of striving to achieve their original purpose of accomplishing their function to the best of their ability.

Don’t get me wrong. This is in no way, shape, or form the destruction of free software or open source movement, nor a goofy conspiracy theory of “the man” trying to “keep us down”. Though it very well may be the downfall of some of the largest open source projects which we have deployed across our enterprise, and depended on for years. The risk of vanishing at any moment grows exponentially with uniform commercial branding, and teeters on a board of directors ideas of the company’s overall best interest.

Stability gone. Paradise lost.

1). I know this rant is over a month out of date. It was a draft I haven’t found time to finish.