Data services for service-oriented architecture (SOA) is likely to come to the forefront at Sun Microsystems Inc. with its $1 billion acquisition of MySQL AB this past week, according to James Kobielus, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
Asked if the MySQL acquisition meant Sun might be branching into data services, Kobielus replied: "Not only could Sun branch into data services now that it has MySQL, but, in fact, Sun is highly likely to do so now."
Beyond data services, the Forrester analyst sees the possibility of Sun moving to provide a comprehensive open source SOA offering built around its Sun Java Enterprise System including the Sun Java Composite Application Platform Suite (JavaCAPS) platform based on its acquisition two-years ago of SeeBeyond. He also sees the possibility of further acquisition of companies with data services related technology including enterprise information integration (EII), business intelligence (BI), data warehousing (DW) and extract transform load (ETL) tooling.
If it succeeds in building this comprehensive open source SOA and data services suite, Sun will be in head-to-head competition with Red Hat Inc.'s JBoss which is moving in the same direction, Kobielus said.
"As regards its drive to become the leading open-source SOA vendor," Kobielus said, "Sun is going head-to-head with Red Hat, which, of course, has the growing JBoss Enterprise Middleware, SOA platform/middleware suite. In 2007, Red Hat entered the data services market by acquiring closed-source enterprise information integration/data federation vendor MetaMatrix, then open-sourcing MetaMatrix's offerings, and then adding them to the JBoss Enterprise Middleware suite. In 2008, Sun is likely to follow Red Hat's lead in this regard."Kobielus noted that with its SPARC servers Sun "already plays in the data services market by being a hardware partner to various data integration, data warehousing and business intelligence vendors. He listed Oracle Corp., Sybase Inc., Teradata Corp., Informatica Corp., Greenplum Inc. and ParAccel Inc., as partners Sun has in this area.
The importance of data services and related technologies to SOA is acknowledged by Sun in relation to the acquisition of MySQL, including its ability to leverage its hardware and software products while moving into the open source data market.
In an interview following the acquisition announcement, Ian Murdock, chief OS strategist at Sun Microsystems Inc., said: "For developers data is pretty much the center of your world and we now have a much stronger story around data clearly with the acquisition of the leading open source database vendor. There are all sorts of interesting directions we can take with MySQL leveraging Sun's core strengths and MySQL's very different market, very different application environment."
Murdock's view of data services fits into Sun's larger vision of cloud computing.
"In the context of cloud computing, Sun was really pioneering a few years' ago when it launched Network.com, the basic idea of compute-on-demand services," the Sun executive said. "We're doing a lot to build out Network.com to include not only computer, but storage and identity and other services to turn it into a truly broad Web platform. Clearly, in those areas data is the centerpiece of any kind of Web applications. There's all sorts of interesting things we could do around MySQL in offering database more as a service. We're not talking about any specific plans just yet."
Forrester's Kobielus does have some specific ideas of where Sun may go shopping to fill out its data services toolset.
He noted that Sun might be looking at EII/data federation pure-plays including Composite Software Inc. and Ipedo Inc. Although they are both current closed-source, Kobielus rated them as "prime acquisition candidates."
Sun may also be looking to acquire an ETL tool vendor, possibly the Talend open source technology, the Forrester analyst said. Sun might also look at a BI vendor acquisition, Kobielus said. Prime BI candidates could be JasperSoft Corp. and Pentaho Corp., both of which are open source, he noted.
Buying these technologies would position Sun to come out with its own branded data warehouse appliances, the Forrester analyst concluded.
With the MySQL acquisition still pending, Sun did not offer specifics on what further moves it might make in the data services area, but Sun's Murdock did indicate there will be further developments.
"Watch this space," he said. "It's going to be an interesting year."