Analysis: Sun, Oracle Re-Join Mutual Admiration Society - InformationWeek

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Analysis: Sun, Oracle Re-Join Mutual Admiration Society

As the two companies once again push each others' products to customers, they are renewing once-tight ties that haven't been much in evidence in recent years.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Sun Microsystems' CEO Scott McNealy reaffirmed their mutual admiration at a yukfest Tuesday. They said their respective companies will "collaborate, interoperate" for another decade.

McNealy said all of Sun, including its recent acquisitions, will move to the latest release of Oracle's applications. And it will bundle Oracle's database on all of its new UltraSPARC IV servers in what amounts to a free year of use.

The two CEOs, who have seen their companies team and bicker intensely in the past few years, said their organizations will work together on Java for the next 10 years, though details were sketchy. In essence, that means Oracle has signed a 10-year licensing agreement for Java. And the companies will continue to work together on NetBeans.

In addition, Sun will aggressively bundle Oracle's database on its latest UltraSPARC IV servers, including what is essentially a free Oracle Enterprise Edition database.

Oracle had already dubbed its new Solaris 10 operating system as the preferred 64-bit development platform for its wares, after a few years of beating the drum loudly for rival chip architectures from Intel and AMD running cheap blade servers from Dell and other Sun rivals.

"Oracle was first on the bus with Java ten years ago, and we're signing up for another ten years of collaboration and coordination," McNealy told a "Town Hall" of Oracle and Sun employees at Oracle headquarters about the renewed era of good feeling. Per usual, the two execs traded barbs in an intro punctuated with laughter.

Some may have needed the reminder that the two companies were once tight allies. Many could be forgiven for thinking that Dell boxes running Linux on AMD/Intel CPUs were the preferred Oracle platform for the past few years. That combo is clearly not Sun-centric. The fact that Oracle was leaning toward those machines irked Sun partisans who knew of the 20-year tight ties between the companies.

On the other hand, Oracle partners said some on the Sun sales team have aggressively pushed IBM's DB2 database over Oracle in their accounts. Late last year, Sun said it will bundle and support both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases with its latest operating system.

But now, Sun will bundle what is essentially a free Oracle Enterprise Edition database on its UltraSPARC IV servers. Pricing of the server/database bundle was not specified but will appear on Sun's price list "soon," McNealy said. In effect, the bundle enables buyers to use the database free for one year. "You get the database for free but only if you order it and get a year of service," McNealy said. Oracle then will try to sell extended licenses. That scenario could pose some channel conflict challenges going forward if Oracle partners start losing out on sales.

The promotion will be available on all UltraSPARC IV servers, McNealy said.

Big industry powers IBM, Microsoft, and SAP lurked in the background. McNealy repeatedly mentioned the ease with which Oracle and Sun products work together, and mentioned no fewer than three times "no IBM Global Services needed."

Clearly the companies will also continue their own agendas. Ellison made it clear that Oracle will carry on its heavy Linux and Dell support. "I don't want to imply that Sun is our only partner," said Ellison. But he said Sun's new 64-bit server line was worth getting behind. "We have a close relationship with Dell but I think Sun has a very compelling line of machines.

Meanwhile, Sun has been working with Oracle nemesis Microsoft on their own interoperability issues. McNealy would not address questions on the progress of those efforts. "I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about that in this room," he said, but noted that work on Microsoft interoperability would continue.

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