Sifting through complications, key assets
Getting into the hardware business also complicates Oracle's relationships with two of its largest customers—Hewlett-Packard and IBM. They now become rivals as well as customers.
Reynolds said Oracle could have an advantage against HP and IBM. It's harder to swap out database software than it is to change hardware, so Oracle will have more control of the end user, he said.
Whether or not Oracle can make that broader hardware/software sale, it gains with Sun control over the strategic Java programming language and Solaris operating system.
Java has deep roots in the server space where both IBM and Oracle use it extensively in their middleware and applications to ensure portability across operating systems. By acquiring Sun, Oracle will be able to lead the Java community process that develops Java standards. It also gains closer access to the thousands of Java programmers who pack Sun's annual JavaOne conference.
But Java has tentacles that reach out in many directions from mobile handsets to set-top boxes and Blu-ray disk players. It's unclear if Oracle, focused on business computing, will give this broad territory adequate attention.
The Solaris story is clearer. Sun has pushed the multicore envelop among server makers with systems and software that embed more cores per socket. That could give Oracle an edge for both Sparc and x86-based systems, Reynolds said.
Because Oracle and Sun have almost no overlap, the database provider will be able to quickly jump to almost $35 billion in annual revenue, even without creating a new kind of hybrid computer sale. And unlike the scuttled IBM/Sun merger, this combination will not require rationalizing many competing internal systems.
Just one piece stands out as an anomaly, Oracle will almost surely spin out or kill the MySQL business Sun acquired that sells free database software for Linux systems.
"If Sun was going to be acquired by someone, I wanted to see a reasonable fit. With the exception of MySQL, everything else here is like hand in glove," said Brookwood.