IBM announced the center Dec. 16 as a $200 million investment where it will centralize AIX development, customer relations and advanced features for independent software vendors. While the figure represents existing salaries and equipment drawn together under one roof, it also represents some shift in emphasis by IBM from Linux back to its mature Unix operating system.
"IBM has become the leader in the Unix marketplace," said Oracle President Charles Phillips in a prepared statement. "Our partnership will allow Oracle to take advantage of the momentum they have generated over the last few years," he said.
Oracle's rediscovery of AIX comes a month after CEO Larry Ellison declared Sun Microsystems Solaris 10 "as its preferred development and deployment platform for most x64 (64-bit chips, such as UltraSparc, Xeon and Opteron) architectures." IBM's 64-bit chip, the Power 5, runs IBM pSeries servers, which use the AIX operating system.
At the time, Ellison said, "it's impossible to ignore the significant market opportunity created by the incredible growth of Solaris 10" since Sun has made the operating system open source code. Sun claims to have experienced 3.5 million downloads of Solaris 10 since making the operating system freely available in June.
Both moves represent less overt emphasis on Linux inside Oracle. Sun and IBM are competing bitterly for the Unix server market. With Ellison endorsing Sun's Solaris 10 in November, Phillips let the other shoe drop Dec. 22 with Oracle's "founding partner" status in IBM's AIX Collaboration Center.
Oracle has pointedly sought closer relations with IBM as it acquired application companies, such as PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems, whose software is frequently found on IBM servers. Potential application customers will need to believe in smooth relations between the two, who continue to fight each other for database dominance, in order to be sure any problems with Oracle applications for IBM customers would get quickly resolved.
As part of a closer relationship, Oracle announced in September that it had decided to support J. D. Edwards EnterpriseOne XE 8.0 applications on the IBM iSeries, the former AS/400, something it had previously refused to do.
With its recent application acquisitions, Oracle and IBM now share 11,000 customers, Phillips said.