Oracle Sets the Hardware Record Straight

Michael Vizard

On the face of it, the announcement of a new version of Oracle's existing data warehouse server would not be worthy of all the hoopla it is getting.

But when Oracle has been kicked around for months about its commitment to hardware since announcing its intention to acquire Sun, I can understand that Oracle might be a little sensitive about the subject.

After all, IBM and Dell, especially, in cahoots with Red Hat and Novell, have been taking more than a few cheap shots at the proposed Oracle-Sun merger. That's also understandable given the nature of the economy, but there comes a time when harping on the same issue can actually serve the interests of your adversary. After all, now everybody wants to know what Oracle's hardware plans are.

For the record, the new Exadata Version 2 server replaces a version one implementation based on Hewlett-Packard server technology. Yep that's right, Oracle has been selling hardware for the past couple of years now in competition with companies such as Teradata, IBM and Sybase. There's gambling in Las Vegas, too.

Trying to tightly integrate software with servers is hardly anything new. If you look at all of IBM's rhetoric lately, you'll find a lot of discussion about application-specific servers and appliances. If you get the sense that by buying Sun, Oracle is trying to rip a page from the IBM playbook, you would be right.

This all begs the question whether Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and EMC, along with Red Hat and Novell, are going to feel the need to be more vertically integrated in response. After all, customers are getting pretty tired of having to integrate software and hardware themselves. And down the road, it's becoming pretty clear that there are going to be benefits to embedding lower-level software functionality directly into the firmware of the hardware.

In the meantime, all the shouting over Oracle's commitment to the hardware business is a whole lot of noise signifying nothing. That doesn't mean that the Oracle deal for Sun will definitely work. But the real transformation of everything we think about how enterprise computing solutions should be delivered is only just beginning.

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