Between Apple's iPad (important but disappointing) and Oracle's explanation of how it will integrate Sun (goodbye, best of breed) this has been a big week in the technology landscape. And oddly enough, hardware, rather than software, is the area to pay attention to.
Now that Oracle has Sun hardware to sell, it took the wind out of the sails of many Sun value-added resellers who were effectively order takers. Oracle is notoriously good at wringing money out of customers in a way that makes it feel OK. It seems highly unlikely that customers will prefer to not buy directly from Oracle, and the company has stayed on message that IT shops should buy everything they can from them directly.
As Larry Ellison said on the call yesterday, VARs are great as long as they actually provide value. By cutting out the VAR and going direct, Oracle gets back the 10 or so percent that Sun was paying to the VAR.
And they're right to do so. The problems at Sun were not with the products, but with the company's ability to articulate why people should buy them. Oddly, that issue often extended even to free and open-source products, many of which were technically superior but lacked the "it" factor in the fashionable open-source world.
Oracle will likely become much more aggressive about preventing Unix to Linux migrations and can now firmly assert their support of Solaris. And considering the enormous amount of cash Oracle has, they could afford to include support for free--or much cheaper than Red Hat, which could have a significant impact not so much on the rise of Linux, but on Red Hat's revenue growth.
But the real impact will be to Dell and to a lesser extent, HP. Dell, for all of its efforts to do otherwise, remains a commodity server and PC shop. The iPad will certainly ding Dell's Netbook sales, if for no other reason than because it runs the iPhone OS. And if Oracle drops Sun server pricing, then I have little doubt that the commodity aspect will be dramatically affected.
This is not to suggest that everything Oracle is doing sits well. In fact, it's pretty depressing to watch so much of Sun's hard work and effort to offer open systems become an Oracle stack in a heartbeat.
Now that Oracle has an OS and hardware to augment its database offerings, there are few challengers to Oracle's enterprise dominance. We're getting closer and closer to a world of enterprises buying from just IBM and Oracle with Windows playing third string to Linux and Solaris. Time will tell.