IBM Takes Aim at Oracle

Michael Vizard
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Spending Spree: IBM's 2010 Acquisitions

Hoping to take advantage of what appears to be growing unrest amongst Oracle customers, IBM today upped the ante in terms of the lengths it is willing to go to get customers to migrate from the Oracle database to DB2 running on IBM platforms.

Those moves include no-charge financial and technology assessments, training courses and proof of concepts set up to help facilitate the migration. In addition, IBM also announced zero percent financing alongside more flexible payment terms for DB2 licensing.

According to Bernie Spang, IBM director of data server marketing, IBM in 2010 has already converted more than 1,000 Oracle Database customers to DB2 and more than 400 Oracle WebLogic customers to WebSphere. Since then Oracle has announced that it will stop supporting Oracle on Intel Itanium servers, which has created a fair amount of concern over what lengths Oracle will go to in order to get customers to migrate to Sparc servers in the wake of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Spang says that unrest in the Oracle customer base over licensing fees is a major factor in IBM's effort to convert more customers to DB2. For example, Oracle charges customers based on the total number of processing cores in the system, while IBM only charges for the actual number of logical cores that the database actually uses.


Spang also says that DB2 performance around critical workloads is starting to have an impact with customers. For example, IBM claims that, on average, SAP workloads run 20 to 40 percent faster on DB2, while costing 30 percent less to run.

IBM also touts its ability to scale database performance better using pureScale technology on Power Series servers or Parallel Sysplex clustering technologies on the mainframe in contrast to the Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) platform.

In addition, Spang notes that DB2 also now sports an Oracle application compatibility feature that makes it much easier to port an application to DB2 with minimal impact on performance.

Obviously, Oracle can no doubt cite some competitive wins of its own. But these latest migration offerings from IBM highlight a much higher level of intensity in the database wars that have raged on for more than a decade now. The question is, then, are Oracle customers becoming unsettled enough to actually engage in a migration process that no matter how attractive the costs are, still requires a lot of time and effort to actually make happen.

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