The battle between Oracle and IBM over the future of the Sun SPARC/Solaris customer base appears to be getting testy judging by a recent ad that ran in the Wall Street Journal on Wed., Sept. 9. The ad reads: “We’re in it to win. IBM, we’re looking forward to competing with you in the hardware business.” signed, of course, by Larry Ellison, Oracle’s top dude.
Huh? Oracle and Ellison have never competed before in the hardware business against anyone. And Sun, which Oracle recently acquired, wasn’t doing very well competing against anyone—HP or IBM—before the acquisition. So I’m not sure Oracle, a newbie to the hardware business, is going to do all that well, at least not in the short term.
Meanwhile, IBM has been racking up wins against Sun for several years. In the first half of 2009, IBM doubled the amount of Solaris migrations to Linux on IBM servers. In that period, IBM reports over 250 Sun wins. Of course, not all the Linux migrations to IBM have gone to the System z, but some have; 40% of new z customers installed Linux in 2008, according to the company.
Just last May IBM launched a new effort to grab Sun accounts with a package of price cuts and migration services to make it cheaper and easier than before to move from Sun to System z. You can see the announcement here.
In addition, IBM has been raiding Sun ISVs. The company claims 70% of ISVs are interested in a closer relationship with IBM and half of those are already actively engaged in deeper technical enablement or go-to-market activities. Kabira Technologies appears to be IBM’s latest trophy ISV. In addition, IBM reports 91% of Sun resellers are interested in a closer relationship.
The Oracle counter punch seems limp. The company promises to spend more money developing SPARC and spend more developing Solaris than Sun does now. But Sun has been so hobbled financially, it is not clear if Sun was spending much at all recently. Similarly, Oracle is promising twice as many hardware specialists selling and servicing SPARC/Solaris systems than Sun does now. Again, this may not be such a big number. It wouldn’t surprise me if IBM has almost as many people chasing Sun accounts as Oracle does.
Oracle, however, does promise dramatic improvements in Sun’s hardware performance by tightly integrating Oracle software with Sun hardware. Give this one to Oracle. The only question is how long until the necessary tweaking is ready. Don’t bet on performance improvements showing up real soon.
Finally, there is the OpenSolaris on System z issue. Efforts on this continue although they have been sputtering of late due, in part, to the upheaval at Sun. Nobody expects Oracle to give this effort much attention. Heck, even IBM barely gives it the attention it deserves. When that happens, however, it will be one more reason to move from SPARC/Solaris to z, even if Solaris and OpenSolaris are not quite the same.