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Sun-Oracle renew their vows

Grid computing for capacity on demand and Java form the heart of lovefest between CEOs Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy.

Love was in the air at Tuesday's Sun/Oracle Employee Town Hall, where CEOs Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy renewed their "marriage vows" around Java, outlined a joint go-to-market plan to expand the adoption of Oracle and Sun technologies and stressed a commitment to each other's technology. They also joked about rumors of a merger or acquisition between the two companies.

We've based our entire middleware strategy on Java and J2EE.
Larry Ellison

"There's not much that happens in the data center that needs technology outside our two companies," McNealy said. "What we can put together is pretty interesting—it works together, plays together, it's tested to be certified to scale." And in classic McNealy style, he jokingly swiped at the competition: "No IBM Global Services required is another way to put that."

Specifically, the companies will be marketing a grid package that bundles the UltraSPARC 4-based Sun server and storage with an Oracle database and one year of Oracle support. The pricing model is such that, according to McNealy, "We're basically giving you the Oracle database for free, with one year of support. We're making it simple, easy and compelling for us to be number one platform for Oracle going forward."

Ellison cited the value proposition: "We believed in grid computing for a very long time—we've been working on parallelism in our database for 15 years. The current instantiation of that is taking a number of low-cost Sun servers and connecting them with Oracle software, and managing and operating a single database. Its fault tolerant, it's truly capacity on demand, not a forklift upgrade. The components are standard low-cost components—it runs faster, it costs less, it never breaks."

In addition, the CEOs announced that Oracle had re-upped its commitment to Java for another 10 years.

"I can't emphasize how important Java is to Oracle," Ellison said. "We've based our entire middleware strategy on Java and J2EE. We're now rewriting all our business applications in Java and we're continuing to modernize our software stack and standardize our software stack."

In addition, Oracle had earlier announced that the Solaris 10 Operating System (OS), Sun's multi-platform, open source OS, as its preferred development and deployment platform for most x64 architectures, including x64 (x86, 64-bit) AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon processor-based systems and Sun's UltraSPARC-based systems. Oracle will be using the Solaris 10 OS throughout its development organization. It also plans to release and ship 64-bit versions of all Oracle products on the Solaris OS prior to or simultaneous with the release of its products on other operating systems.

However, Ellison said the agreement does not impact Oracle's work on Linux: "Solaris is the preferred 64 bit platform, but that doesn't mean we won't develop on Linux."

Also, Ellison said the Sun partnership does not preclude continuing partnerships with other hardware vendors, like Dell. "We have a very close relationship with Dell. The new line of 64-bit servers we've seen from Sun, that compete directly with Dell, is a wonderful piece of engineering—it's larger than anything Dell makes. We've got a good relationship with Dell, but the Sun 64-bit line is a very compelling machine."

McNealy also lauded Oracle's recently announced new multi-core processor pricing and licensing policy that aims to improve parity among hardware vendors, like Sun. And Sun, according to McNealy, is moving its entire organization to the Oracle ERP suite.

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Oracle's primary advantage in this renewed partnership, according to Anne Thomas Manes, a vice president and research director at Burton Group in Midvale, "is they convinced Sun to put the whole company on Oracle ERP. Oracle's going to do the stuff based on UltraSPARC and Solaris 10 anyway and they're already committed to Java." For Sun, the Oracle partnership is good in terms of credibility, she said.

Both McNealy and Ellison stressed that 95% of their business is complementary, but Ellison said that would still compete in areas such as middleware. "We're both committed to standards. We're trying to sell our LDAP directory, they're trying to sell their LDAP directory, but it's different from what Microsoft's trying to do. It's in our interest and in Sun's interest that there's good healthy cooperation and competition, and it's really important we win against the proprietary guys."

And, McNealy quipped "We don't have to merge."

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