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2/1/2010
11:19 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Oracle-Sun High-Performance Computing: Still Committed?

"Unfortunately for high-performance computing lovers everywhere, there was nary a mention of HPC in Oracle's merger party on Wednesday," says HPCwire. "And while nothing was explicitly said to indicate Sun's HPC customers would be ditched, Oracle's focus right now is obviously on business computing, not scientific computing." What's the future for HPC at Oracle/Sun?

"Unfortunately for high-performance computing lovers everywhere, there was nary a mention of HPC in Oracle's merger party on Wednesday," says HPCwire. "And while nothing was explicitly said to indicate Sun's HPC customers would be ditched, Oracle's focus right now is obviously on business computing, not scientific computing." What's the future for HPC at Oracle/Sun?HPCwire.com editor Michael Feldman says the silence of the crickets is unsettling for many in the scientific-computing community who rely heavily on Sun's sophisticated systems for blazing through some massive computational problems and other high-performance tasks:

A hint of what may be in store for the HPC business came from John Fowler, who was formerly the executive vice president of Sun's systems group and is now the executive vice president of hardware engineering for Oracle. Like the other speakers at the event, Fowler reiterated the push to integrate Sun's server, storage and network technology with Oracle's enterprise software. At one point though, without mentioning names, he remarked they would "focus the product set," rather than compete in every possible application area. You can read into that what you will.

In a recent quarterly earnings call, Oracle president Charles Phillips said Oracle was pleased to see its grid-computing solutions extend beyond the narrow field of scientific computing and into broader and higher-growth areas. That narrowness doesn't play well into Oracle's business model, which is built on addressing markets with significant numbers of customers rather than being aimed at niche opportunities.

Feldman from HPCwire noted as much when he said, "In fact, it's difficult to imagine an Oracle regime making a strong commitment to HPC in the near term. . . . But in general, selling HPC servers is not the kind of high-margin business Oracle is used to and wants to continue. And right now, there's no example of a public company that appears to be generating consistent profits from just selling HPC systems."

That last sentence pretty much says it all.

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