Oracles Acquisition Of Sun Microsystems Case Study

The acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corporation was completed on January 27, 2010. Significantly, Oracle, previously only a software vendor, now owned both hardware and software product lines from Sun (e.g. SPARC Enterprise and Java, respectively).

A major issue of the purchase was that Sun was a major competitor to Oracle, raising many concerns among antitrust regulators, open source advocates, customers, and employees.[1][not in citation given] The EU Commission delayed the acquisition for several months over concerns of Oracle's plans for MySQL, Sun's competitor to the Oracle Database.[2] The commission finally approved the takeover, apparently pressured by the United States to do so, according to a Wikileaks cable released in September 2011.[3]


In late 2008, Sun was approached by IBM to discuss a possible merger.[4] At about the same time, Sun also began discussions with another company, widely rumored but not confirmed to be Hewlett Packard, about a potential acquisition. By March 2009, talks had stalled between Sun and both IBM and the other potential suitor.

On April 20, 2009, Sun and Oracle Corporation announced that they had entered into a definitive agreement under which Oracle would acquire Sun for $9.50 a share in cash. Net of Sun's cash and debt, this amounted to a $5.6 billion offer from Oracle. Sun's shareholders voted to approve the proposal on July 16, 2009, although the deal was still subject to regulatory approvals.[5] Terms of the agreement between Oracle and Sun included dependencies on the antitrust laws of "the United States and Canada, European Union, China, Israel, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Korea, Japan, Mexico and South Africa".[6]

On August 20, 2009, it was reported that the U.S. government, pursuant to the Clayton Antitrust Act, approved Oracle's purchase of Sun.[7]

On September 3, 2009, the European Commission announced that it would not immediately approve the deal, but would instead perform a second round of investigation, focusing on the implications of Oracle's control of MySQL (acquired by Sun in 2008).[8]

On October 20, 2009, Sun filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) its intention to cut 3,000 jobs globally over next 12 months, citing losses caused by delays in the acquisition process.[9]

On November 6, in its 10-Q filing for the 1st quarter of the 2010 fiscal year, Sun announced a 25% total revenue decrease compared to the 1st quarter of the previous year, due to "economic downturn, the uncertainty associated with our proposed acquisition by Oracle, increased competition and delays in customer purchasing decisions".[10]

On January 21, 2010, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes announced unconditional approval of the deal.[11]

On January 27, 2010, Oracle announced that it had completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, making Sun a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle.



Several notable engineers resigned following the acquisition, including James Gosling, the creator of Java (resigned April 2010); Tim Bray, the creator of XML (resigned February 2010); Kohsuke Kawaguchi, lead developer of Hudson (resigned April 2010); and Bryan Cantrill, the co-creator of DTrace (resigned July 2010).

While the deal was still pending regulatory approval, the JRuby team collectively resigned from Sun and moved to Engine Yard.[12]

The Drizzle DBMS team collectively resigned from Sun and moved to Rackspace.[13]

Most of Sun's executive management team, including CEO Jonathan Schwartz, resigned immediately after the acquisition was complete. John Fowler, Executive VP of Sun's systems group, remained at Oracle as Executive Vice President of Hardware Engineering.[14]

In addition, Simon Phipps, Sun's Chief Open Source Officer, also left the company.[15]


In early 2010, troubling signals began to emerge concerning the future of OpenSolaris. It was omitted from Oracle Product roadmaps.[16]

Then in August 2010, leaked documents indicated that Oracle would end releases of OpenSolaris in May 2010. In addition, it would no longer release the developing Solaris source code during development. Instead it would only publish it after each new version of Solaris is released. Since Oracle was no longer supporting all the development of an open version of Solaris, the OpenSolaris Governing Board disbanded, ending the project.[17] Independent development continues with the Illumosfork.

On September 2, 2017, Simon Phipps reported that Oracle had laid off the Solaris core development staff, interpreting it as sign that Oracle no longer intends to support future development of the platform.[18]

MySQL petition and forks[edit]

A major issue discussed in media and considered by the EU Commission was Oracle's acquisition of MySQL, an open-source competitor to Oracle acquired by Sun in February 2008, as part of the deal.

In response, several forks were made with the intent to ensure the future success of MySQL despite being purchased by its biggest competitor. These include Drizzle and MariaDB. Monty Widenius, one of the founders of MySQL, also started a petition asking that MySQL either be divested to a third party, or have its licensing changed to be less restrictive than the previous GPL terms it operated under prior to and during its ownership by Sun.[19]

Java Android lawsuit[edit]

Main article: Oracle America, Inc. v. Google, Inc.

Oracle filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in the Android platform. Android apps run in the DalvikJava virtual machine. The apps are written in Java but are compiled into Dalvik's custom bytecode format which is incompatible with standard Java runtime environments.[20] Google thus avoided licensing fees associated with J2ME, the mobile version of Java. However, aspects of the Dalvik system are very similar to the Java technology patented by Sun and now Oracle.[21]

The court found that Oracle's primary copyright claim, based on the Java Application Programming Interface (API), failed because the portions Google reused were not copyrightable.[22] Google was found liable for a small amount of literal code copying. Oracle will be limited to statutory damages for these claims.[23] The jury found that Google did not infringe Oracle's patents.[24] Oracle has said they will appeal.[25] Oracle appealed to the Federal Circuit, and Google filed a cross-appeal on the literal copying claim. The hearing was held on December 4, 2013, and the judgement was released on May 9, 2014. The circuit court reversed the district court on the central issue, holding that the "structure, sequence and organization" of an API was copyrightable. It also ruled for Oracle regarding the small amount of literal copying, holding that it was not de minimis. The case was remanded back to the district court for reconsideration of the fair use defense.[26]

Apache Software Foundation resignations[edit]

The Apache Software Foundation resigned its seat on the Java SE/EE Executive Committee due to Oracle's refusal to provide a technology compatibility kit (TCK) to the ASF for its Apache Harmony open-source implementation of Java.[27][28]

OpenOffice resignations and forks[edit]

After Oracle ended OpenSolaris, some members of the similarly open source Project became worried about their project's future with Oracle. Thus they formed The Document Foundation and created the LibreOffice fork. The LibreOffice brand was hoped to be provisional, as Oracle had been invited to join The Document Foundation and donate the brand.[29]

In response Oracle demanded that all members of the Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the Council, citing a conflict of interest.[30] Many community members decided to leave for LibreOffice, which already had the support of Red Hat, Novell, Google, and Canonical.[31] LibreOffice produced its first release in January 2011.[32]

In June 2011 Oracle contributed the trademarks[33] and source code to the Apache Software Foundation, which Apache re-licensed under the Apache License.[34] IBM donated the Lotus Symphony codebase to the Apache Software Foundation in 2012. The developer pool for the Apache project was seeded by IBM employees,[35] and Symphony codebase was included in Apache OpenOffice.[36]

Hudson/Jenkins fork[edit]

Main article: Jenkins (software)

During November 2010, an issue arose in the Hudson community with respect to the infrastructure used, which grew to encompass questions over the stewardship and control by Oracle.[37] Negotiations between the principal project contributors and Oracle took place, and although there were many areas of agreement a key sticking point was the trademarked name "Hudson",[38] after Oracle claimed the right to the name and applied for a trademark in December 2010.[39] As a result, on January 11, 2011, a call for votes was made to change the project name from "Hudson" to "Jenkins".[40] The proposal was overwhelmingly approved by community vote on January 29, 2011, creating the Jenkins project.[41][42] On February 1, 2011, Oracle said that they intended to continue development of Hudson, and considered Jenkins a fork rather than a rename.[43] Jenkins and Hudson therefore continue as two independent projects, each claiming the other is the fork.

Grid Engine[edit]

Oracle Grid Engine (previously Sun Grid Engine) was changed to a close-source commercial-only product.

Program closures[edit]

Project Kenai, a SourceForge-like project for Java apps, was migrated to by Oracle.[44]

Project Darkstar, a project to investigate and create solutions for issues in massive online gaming environments, was closed by Oracle on February 2, 2010.[45][46]

Customer relations[edit]

Oracle has changed the software support model to also require hardware support. The new policy states "when acquiring technical support, all hardware systems must be supported (e.g., Oracle Premier Support for Systems or Oracle Premier Support for Operating Systems) or unsupported."[47]

In March 2010 the Solaris 10 download license changed to limit unpaid use to 90 days.[48][49]


In 2013, Oracle stopped development of Sun virtualization solutions, including Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Sun Ray Software and Hardware and Oracle Virtual Desktop Client product lines.[50]


  1. ^"Oracle Completes Acquisition of Sun Microsystems". Associated Press. 27 January 2010. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  2. ^"European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Mergers: Commission clears Oracle's proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems". Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  3. ^Mick, Jason (September 1, 2011). "U.S. Pressured EU to Approve the Oracle's Acquisition of Sun". Daily Tech. 
  4. ^Alex Handy (July 16, 2009). "Proxy reveals three-way competition over ownership of Sun". SD Times. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2015-11-14. 
  5. ^"Sun Microsystems Announces Stockholder Approval of Oracle Merger Agreement". Sun Microsystems. July 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  6. ^Sun Microsystems (June 8, 2009). "Definitive Merger Proxy". EDGAR. United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved 2010-01-30. 
  7. ^Thomasch, Paul (August 20, 2009). "Oracle wins U.S. approval to buy Sun Microsystems". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  8. ^""Oracle Faces In-Depth EU Probe Over $7.4 Billion Sun Purchase"". Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  9. ^Sun Microsystems slashing up to 3,000 jobs, 10 pct", Associated Press, October 20, 2009
  10. ^"Yahoo Finance - Business Finance, Stock Market, Quotes, News". Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  11. ^"Oracle wins unconditional EU approval for Sun buy". Reuters. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  12. ^"Sun's JRuby team jumps ship to Engine Yard". 2009-07-27. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  13. ^"Eric Day - Drizzling from the Rackspace Cloud". 
  14. ^"Questions and @nswers with: John Fowler". Profit Magazine. Oracle Corporation. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  15. ^Kelly Fiveash (2010-03-09). "Open source boss quits Sun Oracle". The Register. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  16. ^"OpenSolaris devs 'ignored' by Oracle". 2010-02-25. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  17. ^Shankland, Stephen (23 August 2010). "Lacking Oracle help, OpenSolaris group disbands". CNET. 
  18. ^Varghese, Sam. "Bye, bye Solaris, it was a nice ride while it lasted". ITWire. Retrieved 2017-09-04. 
  19. ^Monty Widenius. "Save MySQL!". Retrieved 2010-01-31.  
  20. ^Paul, Ryan (23 February 2009). "Dream(sheep++): A developer's introduction to Google Android". Ars Technica. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  21. ^Paul, Ryan (14 August 2010). "Oracle's Java lawsuit undermines its open source credibility". Ars Technica. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  22. ^Joe Mullin (May 31, 2012). "Google wins crucial API ruling, Oracle's case decimated". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  23. ^"Stipulation and Order Regarding Copyright Damages"(PDF). United States District Court for the Northern District of California/Groklaw. May 16, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  24. ^Josh Lowensohn (May 23, 2012). "Jury clears Google of infringing on Oracle's patents". ZDNet. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  25. ^Guynn, Jessica (May 31, 2012). "Google wins key ruling in fight with Oracle over Android". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  26. ^Oracle v. Google
  27. ^"The ASF Resigns From the JCP Executive Committee". Apache Software Foundation. December 9, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  28. ^Paul, Ryan (December 9, 2010). "Apache quits Java governance group in protest of Oracle abuses". Ars Technica. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  29. ^" Community announces The Document Foundation". The Document Foundation. 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  30. ^Paul, Ryan. "Oracle wants LibreOffice members to leave OOo council". Ars Technica. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  31. ^Paul, Ryan (2 November 2010). "Fork off: mass exodus from OOo as contributors join LibreOffice". Ars Technica. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  32. ^Paul, Ryan (25 January 2011). "First release of LibreOffice arrives with improvements over OOo". Ars Technica. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  33. ^Oracle Corporation (June 2011). "Statements on Contribution to Apache" (Oracle blog version). MarketWire. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  34. ^Hamilton, Dennis (24 May 2012). "RE: LibreOffice relicensing efforts". Apache Incubator mailing list. Apache Software Foundation. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  35. ^Kowalsk, Luke (1 June 2011). "Original incubator project proposal" (attachment to [1]). Oracle. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  36. ^Ed Brill. "More on the Lotus Symphony and desktop productivity roadmap". Ed Brill. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  37. ^"Who's driving this thing?". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  38. ^"Hudson Process Discussion Summary". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  39. ^Blewitt, Alex. "Hudson Renames to Jenkins". InfoQ. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  40. ^Bayer, Andrew (January 11, 2011). "Hudson's future". Jenkins CI: A Jenkins community resource. Retrieved January 11, 2011. 
  41. ^Bayer, Andrew (January 29, 2011). "Rename Vote Results". Hudson-dev Google Group. Archived from the original on January 29, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2011. 
  42. ^Bayer, Andrew (January 29, 2011). "Jenkins!". Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  43. ^"The Future of Hudson". Hudson-dev mailing list. Archived from the original on 2011-02-05. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  44. ^"The Oracle Technology Network Community". Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  45. ^"Oracle: destroyer of virtual worlds". Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  46. ^"Project Darkstar developers announce the shutdown on the community forums". Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  47. ^Kanaracus, Chris (25 March 2010). "Oracle Enacts 'all Or Nothing' Hardware Support Policy". 
  48. ^Rodrigues, Savio (26 March 2010). "License change leaves Sun Solaris users at a crossroads". InfoWorld. 
  49. ^Farrell, Nick (31 March 2010). "Oracle will cut Sun's open source". The Inquirer. 
  50. ^Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (15 July 2013). "Oracle to halt development of Sun virtualization technologies". ZDNet. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 

combining these two companies had the potential to create the Wal-Mart of theenterprise software industry. This report is meant to assess whether SM would be astrategic fit for Oracle and at what price. To do so, we valued SM both from a standalone case, and also based on the expected synergies after the acquisition. We used three different approaches to value SM. The first approach was to addthe market capitalization and debt of SM to determine an enterprise value (EV) of about$6.20 billion. Second, using a multiples analysis based on comparable companies, wedetermined SM’s EV to be about $3.87 billion. Third, using the discounted cash flowmethod, we determined SM’s EV to be about $4.53 billion as a stand alone company,and $8.95 billion. The disparity between of values from the different approaches weredue to different assumptions, but also justified by the fact that SM was struggling prior tothe acquisition talks. Is SM a good strategic fit for Oracle?From our point of view, SM is a good fit for Oracle for two reasons.First of all,Oracle’s objective was to become the Apple for business customers. It needs toessentially streamline its business. While Oracle had a dominant position in software, itcan append Sun’s core strength in hardware and networking to create the desiredenterprise offerings. Additionally, Oracle would add Sun’s Java, MySQL, and Solarisplatforms to its portfolio. Finally, adding SM would mean expanding Oracle’s reach

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