Sun and Oracle promise to work together for 10 more years
McNealy celebrates with free databases for all
Sun Microsystems and Oracle today renewed their vows in front of loved ones, employees and hacks.
During a press conference at Oracle's headquarters, Sun chief Scott McNealy and the Oracle at Selphi, Larry Ellison, announced that the two companies will continue to work closely for at least the next 10 years. To prove their shared love, Oracle signed its second 10-year Java licence and Sun unveiled a program that bundles Oracle's enterprise edition database on its UltraSPARC-based servers at no cost to customers. Along with disclosing these tidbits, the executives shared a chummy comedy session, trying their best to one up each other, as so often happens when they're on stage together.
"We don't have a room like this," McNealy began, commenting on Oracle's massive press conference facility. "The hardware business has lower margins, I think."
McNealy then cut to the chase, bringing up a rumor that had been circulating ever since Sun and Oracle announced they would hold this press conference.
"Are you buying Sun?"
"Well, you know, Scott," Ellison said.
"A simple 'yes' or 'no' will do," McNealy interjected.
"You will see in the newspapers," Ellison said. "It turns out Oracle's strong preference is to do everything hostilely."
We'll bring you a few more gags after we get the news out of the way.
First, there's the Java bit. It's no surprise, but Oracle has signed on to keep plugging away at the Java thing for 10 more years. It will continue to centre all of its software around Java, bragging that it has a standards-based approach where a rival like SAP doesn't.
This, in some ways, leads to the second part of the deal, which is that Sun and Oracle have pledged to make their middleware work well together. Sun's enterprise software stack will run on Oracle's application server and Sun's LDAP directory will work well with Oracle's software. The executives described this as a "hot pluggable"-type of partnership, and we'll let you make of that what you will.
Most importantly, Sun has teamed with Oracle to create server/database bundles meant to undercut the pricing of rivals IBM and HP. No matter how many processors your Sun UltraSPARC system has, you get the Oracle enterprise edition database for free. It comes installed on the Sun server. Customers will have to pay for a one-year service contract from Oracle, which will then try to sell you two, three and four more years of service.
Sun claims this arrangement (with its E25K server) gives it a 25 per cent advantage over a similar bundle from IBM - using the p595 Unix server - and a 50 per cent price advantage over HP - using its HP9000 server.
McNealy and Ellison took questions from employees present at the event. One employee asked why Oracle had not released the latest version of its 10g database for Sun's Solaris x86 operating system, built for Opteron-based servers. Ellison had been talking up this kit from Sun all afternoon.
"We signed an agreement relatively recently that we will get those ports (SPARC and x86) out in parallel in the future," Ellison said.
Back to the comedy, McNealy and Ellison joked about why "networked computers" were missing from a slide showing the companies' long history together. McNealy and Ellison spent years hyping this idea, while Microsoft and Intel hammered away at the PC market.
"You can't get everything (on the slide)," Ellison said. "The slides are only so big. Let Google make a network computer now. They are young and foolish."
The executives also addressed the obvious issue that both companies, particularly Oracle, do business with respective rivals. Oracle, for example, has very close ties to Dell, and Ellison has even relinquished his likeness to Dell for an anti-Sun ad campaign.
"So, you aren't totally faithful, and we aren't totally faithful either," McNealy said. "Maybe you less so than us."
Nervous laughter fills the room.
"We are talking about IT, yes?" Ellison responds.
"My wife is in the front row. I don't know where yours is." McNealy said.
All in all, this Snoracle event stood as a repeat of a performance we've all seen. The companies love each other, and McNealy and Ellison go way back. They make lots of money together in the data centre and fight against IBM and Microsoft. You know the drill.
The new database bundles, however, are pretty intriguing. Let us know if you guys actually run into such an offer and how attractive it seems to you. ®