Last week's acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle marks the first time in the IT industry's history that a major software company has bought a major hardware company – but users should be looking for assurances on their hardware and middleware investments.

This is the word from Gartner, which has released a report on the acquisition written by analysts Kenneth Chin, George Weiss, Donald Feniberg and Massimo Pezzini.
Acquiring Sun will propel Oracle into the IT hardware market and enable it to exploit the Java and Solaris software brands, says the report, but Oracle will also have to work at ensuring its open-source solutions remain viable.
Gartner believes the acquisition gives Oracle the opportunity to become a powerhouse vendor in both software and hardware, potentially rivaling IBM and HP.
It believes Oracle will take the opportunity to use the two companies' product sets to build "open and integrated systems," which will range from business applications to middleware, database management systems, operating systems, servers and storage platforms.
However, the report adds, while the vision is appealing, it also presents significant technology and business challenges, including whether customers desire to source from a single vendor.
Gartner cautions Sun customers and prospective customers who may be planning a long-term migration away from Sun hardware to delay taking action until Oracle lays out its hardware road map.
It also urges customers to protect their hardware investment in new contracts with Sun by locking in five-to-seven-year support agreements on Sparc hardware.
On the middleware front, Gartners says customers should proceed with caution until Oracle delivers a detailed roadmap for these products.