it has been years since I have used StarOffice

When I worked at Sun, it was a constant struggle to use StarOffice because not all of the Microsoft Office features were implemented in StarOffice. Given that Sun would not pay for a Microsoft license, it was either use it or figure out another way. Well, five years later and two versions of each product, it is nice to see that nothing has changed.

I downloaded the current version, StarOffice version 9, and it is nice to know that things remain the same. The word and draw products are good and reliable. The calc still falls short in my opinion. I have been using Crystal Ball for some simulations and decision tree analysis. I have found that the tool is very powerful and good at looking at project funding and financial analysis of purchasing goods and services. Unfortunately, it does not work inside of StarCalc.

The same is true for Visio. The StarDraw product can not read nor write vsd formats. Given that most of the stuff that I work on is proposals for IT departments, it is important to do network diagrams, server room diagrams, and connectivity or data flow models, much as I don’t want to admit, Visio is a defacto standard. Not being able to read this format is a show stopper in my opinion.

I have also been playing with the Oracle digital rights software, the IRM server. Unfortunately, the ability to seal a document appears in the Excel interface but not the StarOffice interface. The document must be sealed outside the tool which means that it needs to be stored unsealed and then sealed. If I am going to pay for a suite like this, I want the software to seal and unseal documents inside my commonly used tool.

The final problem has always been storing the files in a different format. It is problematic to ship someone a star office formatted file and they have Microsoft Office. You can open a document from Office in StarOffice but not the other way around. Until StarOffice becomes the default platform and storage format, it will continue to be difficult to use.

Hopefully, Oracle can solve this problem and integrate some of the back office calcualtions and procedures into the tool making it the front end customization piece rather than having to do something like Oracle Forms or Web Center. It would be nice if a tool like Excel/StarCalc could be the navigation tool into EBS or PeopleSoft and have Hyperion and Crystal Ball reporting all nicely integrated while being able to save into secure digital protection offered by an IRM server.

Given that I work for Oracle, these are merely my own opinion and not direction of the company. I am not a high enough pay grade to even have an opinion or influence in matters this important. I can only wish……

software mapping between Oracle and Sun

Now that the new has been digested that Oracle really did purchase Sun Microsystems, let’s take a qualitative look at the software available from Sun. Starting with the software index page we see a list of 10 major components.

1) Operating Systems. This is Solaris for Sparc and Solaris for Intel. It also includes OpenSolaris. All of these are really one in the same but different ports. OpenSolaris is the source code distribution similar to the Linux distribution model. Solaris for Sparc is a port to the Sun hardware platform and comes in 32 and 64 bit flavors. This is the tried and true operating system of the data center. This does change the relationship with Microsoft since Oracle runs on Windows. It also changes the relationship with companies like SAP and IBM since a large part of their software suite also runs on Solaris and Java.

2) Virtualization. This is the Sun xVM Ops Center, the SunxVM Server, and the Sun VirtualBox. This is a little different from the OracleVM solution in that it only supports Linux environments whereas OracleVM support Windows as well. The Sun solution supports Windows but they do not actively advertise the fact and promote it. Both are based on the Xen Hypervisor and it will be interesting to see how the two products merge into one moving forward. The Sun xVM Ops Center which is used to manage Containers and virtual domains will probably be standalone for a while and merged with Enterprise Manager just like the OracleVM console is being integrated.

3) Java. There is very little overlap in these technologies. Oracle does own the JRocket technology which is a highly optimized virtual machine. Given that the middleware layer and application suites are all built based on Java, I see this moving forward as a central part of the Oracle strategy. It will be interesting to see how the OpenJDK community and Java community changes moving forward. Microsoft has been in and out of lawsuits with Sun over this issue. It will be interesting to see if it will be any different with Oracle.

4) Mobile Solutions. This is mainly Java ME and JavaFX Mobile which is directly targeted at the telco industry and portable devices. It will be interesting to see if Oracle develops and end to end solution for the utility and cell phone industry. It is in a unique position to take advantage of things like smart metering and smart cars with the technology that it now owns.

5) Infrastructure. This includes GlassFish, Identity Management, SOA, and software development tools. GlassFish is an interesting platform that provides a different look and feel for user interaction with applications. This falls in line with the enterprise 2.0 initiative that Oracle has. It will be interesting to see how this integrates with the existing WebLogic platform as well as the existing SOA and BPM products. The identity products will have to be merged at some point since they play in the same space and compete head to head on a regular basis.

6) Database. MySQL will be just another database that falls in line with BerkeleyDB, TimesTen, and Essbase. There will be places for it to be used. The JavaDB is also an interesting technology that has application in the embedded space.

7) StarOffice. It will be interesting to see if Oracle does anything with StarOffice. It opens a new possibility of integration of the Crystal Ball technology with access to the spreadsheet source code. The merger of these two technologies could be very interesting and could integrate well with enterprise offerings and analytic tools like Hyperion and Siebel.

8) System Management. The Sun Management Center, Sun Connection, and Sun N1 Service Provisioning Systems are all very interesting. They are enterprise class dashboards for operating a data center. It will be interesting to see how Enterprise Manager is merged with this product and how pricing will change based on the packaging of the two suites of products.

9) Developer Tools. Sun Studio 12 and NetBeans are very interesting technologies. Given that Oracle has JDeveloper and that there is truly no revenue stream for any of these products, it will be interesting to see how things move forward with either merged products or separate for different applications.

10) High Performance Computing. Given that Oracle has nothing in this space, it will be interesting to see how this migrates and develops moving forward. This was the crown jewels ten years ago at Sun and it was used to create some of the largest computers in the world. It will be interesting to see if this will remain a focus of Oracle. It is a slight divergent from what Oracle currently is but it makes sense to merge high performance processing with high performance database and storage technologies.

11) Collaboration. Given that very few people use the Sun calendar and messaging servers and Oracle just released Beehive, I can see a merge of these technologies quickly and easily.

It will be interesting moving forward

Oracle acquiring Sun

This morning it was announced that Oracle will acquire Sun Microsystems took me by surprise. I worked for Sun for 13 years and have been at Oracle for almost 3. These are my notes from the briefing call that happened this morning.

This was a decision done at the highest levels. Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy were both on the call. The call started with Safra Catz talking about the financial analysis. This deal is larger than Hyperion but smaller than BEA and PeopleSoft. The deal expect to have a higher margin and add $1.5B in non-gaap income. The income will be 15 cents per share after the first year. This is more profitable than the other acquisitions. Oracle has the experience of doing this and we will combine the software apps quickly. The combined company will focus on joint customers and help reduce cost and complexity. Sun currently outsources all manufacturing and post-merger Oracle will manage this to maintain profitability.

Larry Ellison took over and talked about the success of the history of acquisitions. He focused on Solaris and Java as the key technical reasons. Java is the best known brand and is one of the most widely used platforms. Our middleware technology is based on this foundation and moving forward we can customize both to make them work even better together. Sun’s largest business is the SPARC server component. Solaris is the best Unix technology available in the market. Oracle databases is deployed on Solaris more than any other platform. The next platform is the Linux operating system. With the acquisition of Solaris, Oracle can optimize the leading operating system as well as the leading database to reduce complexity and improve performance. Both of these products are based on open technology. The combination of these two products will allow a growth of footprint and make it easier for customers to deploy complete and integrated hardware and software systems. Tuning Sun systems for Oracle will help benefit existing customers

Scott McNealy followed this with the history of Sun and Oracle and the common innovations that have been done in the past. Both companies are key innovators and this innovation will continue moving forward. The joint company will allow companies to focus on what is important to them, running their business not running their data centers

Jonathan Schwartz spoke about the ability to address a broader array of platforms to talk to a larger number of technology problems. Oracle now can drive an industry phase change into the industry while remaining based in open technologies.

Charles Philips talked about the CIO advisory board from weeks ago and the consensus was that our initial foray into the Exadata/hardware solution was good and that we should do more. Tighter integration with hardware and software reduces the complexity and support issues with business solutions. Ready to deploy servers targeted at industries are one possibility. Sun’s open storage platform is very similar to Exadata solutions. Storage is a continuing and expanding market for years to come. There are exciting and new opportunities with Java. We will have the largest software development community in the world

Overall the conference call was simple, to the point, and stuck to the facts. There was no Q&A after the call, only the announcement. My personal opinion is that this will generate a significant amount of discussion. There are some overlays of products in the identity and Linux areas. It is interesting that Oracle now owns SleepyCat/BerkeleyDB as well as MySQL. It is also interesting that Oracle also owns JRocket and Java. My gut feel is that the Glassfish technology will come into play for the business users and it will introduce new innovation into the fusion suite of products moving forward. This will confuse things with Microsoft moving forward as well as a few other software partners. For me personally, I have been talking with a bunch of friends that I haven’t talked to in months.