Oracle To Sun Users: Put Away The Red Pen

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SPARC servers and Solaris are key to its single-stack approach, says Oracle. But should customers believe it?

Hardware will continue

If users had come with red pens expecting to cross items off the Sun catalogue, they could put those pens away, said Simon Culmer, formerly Sun’s UK sales director, who claimed that SPARC servers and x86 based servers would all continue as before with increased investment.

Sun’s SPARC servers are already faster than comparable servers from IBM and HP, and Solaris has more applications than other Unix versions such as IBM’s AIX and HP-UX, said Culmer. Last year’s Oracle OpenWorld saw a Sun system delivering 7.7 million transactions per second, using one fifth of the power of an IBM system – “and this was before we put our engineering people together.”

Oracle will increase the investment in SPARC and Solaris, including servers which are built with partners such as Fujitsu, he said. Culmer also promised that Sun’s other ranges of servers based on Intel x86 processors would continue, including the 4400, a consolidation server, the 4100 described as a workhorse, the 4200 server and the 2200 designed for high performance computing.

The only hint of any lack of support was in the lower-end x86 servers, which, it seems, may fade from view over time.

The company’s storage systems would evolve, with a heavy use of Flash: “You can make a fast, reliable, low power storage subsystem if you put Flash in front of the most boring disk subsystem,” he said. “But you have to have incredible software.”

Operating Systems

Oracle reiterated promises to keep Solaris developing and not to kill off the open source OpenSolaris version. “We are deadly serious about investing in research and development and growing the business,” said Chris Armes

Armes stressed the company’s support strength, claiming that Oracle now has a support outfit bigger than the combined size of the whole of Red Hat and Novell. Solaris will be supported alongside Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux, and its Enterprise Linux which tracks Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

One subject omitted from the main speeches was any mention of MySQL, the open source database whose associated development company is owned by Sun, and which formed a large part of European objections to Sun’s acquisition by Oracle. The US meeting was told that MySQL support would be bolstered and the database would continue to develop. Other open source projects like OpenOffice would also continue to get investment.

Conclusion: business as usual?

What about Oracle users who don’t run on SPARC servers, or Sun users who don’t have Oracle? They might each feel that the Oracle/Sun products they buy are being tweaked for needs they don’t have, and fear that they will have to pay more for things they don’t need.

The speakers dismissed this kind of thinking – but outside over coffee, an Oracle salesperson said these people would be “great sales opportunities”, and would have the benefits of the full stack explained to them at the earliest opportunity.

Big IT customers might not want that sort of pitch, of course. And they don’t like change of any sort.

The most surprising thing about the event was the complacency. Many of the delegates suggested that this merger, billed as one of the most cataclysmic ever (in a good way or a bad way), might simply lead to business as usual, with the products and support coming from the usual partners and executives, and the roadmap continuing.

That might not be the ringing endorsement Oracle wanted – but it’s better than the critical reception it might have got.

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