As the (in)famous "deja vu" quote from Yogi Berra about Yankee sluggers Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hitting back-to-back home runs goes, it looks like Oracle is following in Dell's footsteps. Last month, Dell updated its storage strategy, outlining how it is evolving from a storage reseller to a storage OEM and is carving out a profitable niche in the SMB market.
Oracle is also changing its spots, evolving from a software-only vendor--with its acquisitions of Sun Microsystems and, earlier this week, Pillar Data Systems--and Oracle's storage greenfield is its massive installed base. In a virtuoso performance, Oracle President Mark Hurd and Executive VP Systems John Fowler talked about Oracle's storage opportunities and how customers can get a 100-fold improvement by buying the company's integrated solutions.
"We think we can run applications 10 times faster using a 10th of the storage capacity," said Hurd. Fowler added that the Pillar SAN acquisition, primarily owned by Oracle bossman Larry Ellison, "fills a big hole" and gives the company a complete storage portfolio.
As with Dell, it's still premature to claim success, but a number of analysts agree that the Oracle opportunity is real. The company is relying upon its traditional strengths in database to be able to leverage integration in storage, says David Hill, principal, Mesabi Group.
"Oracle is playing the hand it was dealt, with getting a new card in Pillar, and its traditional Oracle core products are the strongest cards. The addition of Pillar gives Oracle an entry, which it really needed, in the traditional disk array space."
Hill says Oracle is concentrating on customers that already have Oracle products installed. "This gives them a chance to state their case as to why storage should be part of the deal."
Marco Coulter, research director, storage practice, TheInfoPro, agrees that Oracle's customer base should be ripe for picking, although it won't necessarily be a slam dunk. "Selling to Oracle's DBA base should be successful for Pillar, as it was for the Exadata appliance." However, he cautions, Pillar will need to be significantly differentiated to overcome existing opinions of Oracle in the storage community. According to recent research, Oracle is not popular with storage professionals--ratings of Oracle were 0.5 standard deviations below the mean in eight of 14 categories tracked in TheInfoPro's Wave 15 storage study.