Writing in eWeek Europe about the audience reaction to the presentation made by Oracle executives to 500 Sun customers and partners in London, Peter Judge assessed the response positively, saying, "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."
Several points during the presentation shaped the audience response, as Judge reports them, and they include the promise to continue development of Sun's SPARC and x86 servers, along with the Solaris OS (and OpenSolaris). Judge writes that, Oracle speakers also stressed the combined company has the biggest support team in the world.
Dermot O'Kelly, Oracle's VP of systems for EMEA, assured the audience that,
This [a combination of hardware and software from application to disk] will change the way you look at your IT infrastructure.
This is what we think customers want, said OKelly. Products that are engineered together, tested together and certified together. Now that the company owns a complete stack, including application, middleware operating system, virtualization, operating system and hardware, customers can expect that any change in a single element will be tested on all the other elements, he said.
This would have a big impact on reliability, O'Kelly continued, and should cut the big proportion (claimed to be 80 percent) of IT budgets that goes on simple maintenance. A lot of maintenance issues arise when users are dealing with multiple vendors, and one of them changes one piece, he contended.
Oracle is committed to maintaining openess, O'Kelly assured the audience, promising that, although the hardware and software will be designed to work together, they will still have to be open: Customers have spent millions and millions on buying bits of the stack, so we have stuck to the principle of complete openess, he said. If you go best of breed at any point in the stack, Ill take my chance on the open market.
Judge noted that conversation overheard during one break included the question on whether it would really be possible for Oracle to build hardware that was simultaneously tuned for its database and also a top-performing general purpose system. Audience members, Judge adds, were not allowed to direct questions to Oracle execs during the presentation.
Suns servers are already the number one choice for running Oracle, and last year Oracle already used Sun hardware to make the Sun Oracle Database Machine - also known as Exadata Version 2 - which could be seen as the first generation of an integrated system.
Furthermore, running data warehousing 500 percent faster than regular hardware, the machine could be further tweaked to go 50 or even 100 times faster than other hardware.
OKelly also said that Oracle would be able to sell more Sun equipment thanks to improvements in its supply chain, and echoed Oracle CEO Larry Ellisons promises to hire more staff at Sun, Judge writes.
Oracle's channel partners also came in for some reassuring when O'Kelly damped down their concerns that Oracles plan to have direct sales contact with all its major customers might take their business from them. It is our duty to have a relationship with our customers, said OKelly. "We are not trying to cut our partners out - in fact, it is the reverse.
In the hardware department, customers were assured by Simon Culmer, formerly Suns UK sales director, that Sun's SPARC and x86-based servers would continue to receive investment and promotion from Oracle.
Given that Suns SPARC servers are already faster than comparable servers from IBM and HP, and that Solaris has more applications than other Unix versions such as IBMs AIX and HP-UX, there is no reason to suppose that these established solutions would suffer a lack of emphasis, said Culmer.
Oracle will increase the investment in SPARC and Solaris, including servers which are built with partners such as Fujitsu, Culmer said, promising as well that Suns 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, Judge observes.
Culmer also said that the companys 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.
Finally, coming to 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, who stressed the companys 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 Oracles Unbreakable Linux, and its Enterprise Linux which tracks Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the audience was told.
Absent from any comment at all was MySQL, the open source database whose associated development company is owned by Sun, and that, ironically, formed a large part of European objections to Suns 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.
What are the implications for Oracle users who dont run on SPARC servers, Judge wonders, or Sun users who dont have Oracle? They might each feel that the Oracle/Sun products they buy are being tweaked for needs they dont have, and fear that they will have to pay more for things they dont need.
While the speakers dismissed this kind of thinking, 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 dont like change of any sort Judge cautions.
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