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A closer look at the Oracle-Sun deal

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Sun Microsystems Inc. CEO Scott McNealy got together recently at Oracle headquarters for a town hall style meeting during which they announced a "newly reinvigorated" partnership between their two firms. Under the deal, the firms will work together for at least ten more years on everything from Java and middleware to hardware and software sales and support. Ellison and McNealy say the deal is designed to give customers a Java-based alternative to Microsoft .NET.

Following the announcement, Ellison and McNealy fielded questions from reporters and employees, covering topcis such as how the deal will effect Oracle DBAs, where Oracle and Sun will remain competitive, and how the two will work to bundle software.

Below are some excerpts from that session. Give them a read and then send an e-mail with your comments to news editor Mark Brunelli. Are McNealy and Ellison dishing the straight poop or just playing politics? SearchOracle.com wants to know what you think.

Could you provide more details about where Sun and Oracle compete pretty aggressively in sales situations?


I think what's important is that we're both committed to standards. We're trying to sell our LDAP directory, he's trying to sell his LDAP directory. That's very different than what Microsoft is trying to do. In a sense, we're both out there promoting standards and saying, 'our implementation of LDAP is better than his.' The customers can then decide. We think it's in our interest and Sun's interest that there's good healthy cooperation and competition between people who are supporting the same set of industry standards.

I noticed that Dell Computer Corp. was rather absent from your presentation, but they used to be in your advertising a lot. What is your position on preferring Sun versus Dell?
I don't want to imply that our only partner here is Sun, any more than Sun wants to imply that the only partner going forward is Oracle. We compete, we cooperate, we have multiple partners, we go into the channels, and we have a very close relationship with Dell. We think that the new line of 64-bit servers that we've seen from Sun, including the ones that compete directly with Dell ... we think is really a wonderful piece of engineering. We tend to get on bandwagons of winners, and we think that machine is a winner. It's larger than anything Dell makes. Don't get me wrong. We've got a close relationship with Dell. But we think the Sun 64-bit line is a very compelling line of machines. Oracle Database 10G R2 was released on Sun's SPARC servers last year. It's still not available on 64-bit Solaris-on-Opteron servers. Is that a priority for Oracle?
I think that was simply a matter of market demand. We prioritize our ports... we signed an agreement where we said that we were going to get those ports out -- and it's a relatively recent agreement -- in parallel in the future. But, historically speaking, Opteron wasa a relatively new initiative for Sun. There wasn't a lot of customer demand for that product. We think that creates a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg problem. This new agreement addresses that issue. Our intention and what we agreed to do is get the Solaris-on-Opeteron ports out in a timely fashion with all of our other 64-bit ports. So, that's going to change in the future. But looking at it historically, it was just an issue of demand. Do the new Sun machines now ship with two databases? I read recently that there is an open source database going out with every Solaris server.
The answer is that there will be three databases. There will be Postgres, there will be Oracle and MySQL is also bundled. There's lots of choice, but it depends on what the customer wants. Can you explain a little bit more about the NetBeans-related aggreement that you're announcing today?
My statement is that we have our own development tool, JDeveloper, and we are also very involved with Eclipse. We lead three different groups with Eclipse. But we certainly think Sun and Sun's NetBeans initiative is important in the marketplace and we're watching it very closely. But as of right now we're focussed on Java on JDeveloper and Eclipse.

Over the long haul, what effect if any will the Sun-Oracle partnership have on the lives of Oracle DBAs?
I'm not sure it will affect Oracle DBAs at all. Other than they might find it easer. They won't have to install Oracle on Sun machines anymore. In a lot of cases Oracle will show up pre-installed on the machine. That might make the DBAs life a little bit easier. But you're still going to have to build applications on top of the database, and administer those applications and upgrade those applications. So, there's still plenty of work for Oracle DBAs. In a similar announcement a couple of years ago, Sun and Microsoft pledged to work together more closely on a number of issues. Can you tell us how that relationship has progressed thus far?
We're not going to go there in this conversation. This is all about our partner Oracle here today. Every year or so we announce the progress on our Microsoft relationship, but I don't think this is the forum. I wouldn't feel right in this room. [Laughs]

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