Questions About Oracle/Sun

There is something to be said for owning just about everything in the stack for delivery of a solution to the customer

April 23, 2009

3 Min Read
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So, the news is out: Oracle will purchase Sun and IBM is out of the picture. At first glance it seems pretty straightforward -- Oracle will leverage Sun servers (on many of which Oracle is installed today), and it will sell storage products the database and apps reside on.

However, all may not be so simple for the combined companies. There are plenty of, as yet, unanswered questions from the storage perspective. Such as: What storage products in the lineup will stay and what will go? Will Oracle/Sun remain in the enterprise mainframe storage business with the repackaged Hitachi Data Systems offering? Will Oracle/Sun continue to support internal storage development efforts? Will the combined company continue its relationship with LSI's storage division? How will Larry Ellison's storage darling, Pillar Data Systems, fair with all these changes? Pillar Data Systems is now a direct competitor of the Oracle/Sun storage product line.

What about tape? Will Oracle continue Sun's line of tape offerings?

A few have opined they fear for the storage offerings from companies such as 3Par, EMC, and IBM, given the potential powerful combination of server, software, and storage from Oracle/Sun. There is something to be said for owning just about everything in the stack for delivery of a solution to the customer. I am sure there are other technologies that Oracle could purchase to round out the solution -- one could easily conjure the image of Oracle making a move on Brocade to sew up the networking piece.

From the storage point-of-view, I am not so worried about companies like 3Par, EMC, and IBM. Will they have to work a little harder to differentiate their storage products from that offered by Oracle? Some may have to. This will certainly be most true for EMC, which has partnered with Oracle to deliver differentiated storage solutions with API hooks into its storage platform so that Oracle can leverage certain feature functionality. That kind of development engineering relationship may not be long for this world now that Oracle will have its own storage line to work with. It is certainly timely that EMC is aligning the moon and stars with VMware, Cisco, and Intel.3Par has been hard at work differentiating itself for years -- all without the benefit of being the 300-pound gorilla in the storage market -- and has done an excellent job developing high-performance storage solutions for Oracle environments. And 3Par remains in a strong growth phase. IBM may have to fend off some new alliance partners as Oracle rounds out its overall offering, but IBM is well positioned to continue to slog it out with Oracle. Given the amount of disruption created by this deal, I believe storage vendors will see doors of opportunity open, rather than close.

Taking the long view, the big story here may be in the operating system: Will Solaris continue on? Just what Oracle will do with the operating system may take longer to sort out compared to cleaning house of poorly performing Sun business units and storage products.

2009 is shaping up to be a year of information technology evolution though acquisition -- and we are only one third of the way through the year.

Tom Trainer is founder and president of analyst firm Analytico. Prior to founding Analytico, Trainer was managing senior partner at Evaluator Group, and has also worked at EMC, HDS, Auspex, and Memorex-Telex during his 30-year career in IT.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the challenges around enterprise storage. Download the report here (registration required).7022

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