Hurd Faces Familiar Challenges at Oracle
When Oracle bought Sun, Ellison boasted that Oracle software running on Sun hardware offered a more complete and competitive package that anything IBM could offer. In a statement Sept. 6, Hurd agreed. "I believe Oracle's strategy of combining software with hardware will enable Oracle to beat IBM in both enterprise servers and storage," Hurd said.Such appliances are gaining attention from businesses, according to TBR's Williams. He noted that a recent TBR survey found that more than half of responding enterprise customers had bought at least one higher-end appliance in the last 12 months. "Exadata is going to be a big part of what Oracle is going to be bringing out over time," IDC analyst Jean Bozman predicted in an interview with eWEEK. Oracle is looking to optimize its software solutions, and having intellectual property in both hardware-from Sun-and software will only help with those optimization efforts, as has been illustrated by IBM with its mainframes and Power servers, Bozman said. Gaining Sun's hardware was a significant step for Oracle anyway, she said; having someone with Hurd's experience in dealing with both hardware and software, as well as services, will only help. He gained that experience not only at HP, but also earlier, during his time as CEO of NCR, with its Teradata data warehousing software. "With or without Hurd, the acquisition of Sun heralded a new chapter for Oracle," Bozman said. However, there are differences between what Oracle is doing and what HP does. HP relies heavily on selling its x86-based ProLiant servers, which run on processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. And while Oracle will still sell Intel-based systems, much of its focus will be on hardware based on its SPARC processors. In addition, according to Gartner's Chin, while HP does sell some appliances with integrated hardware and software, that's not the bulk of its business. "HP sold a lot of servers and sold a lot of storage, and it wasn't all wrapped up into one [package]," Chin said. Hurd also brings with him experience integrating companies, which will be useful to Oracle as it deals with Sun and other companies it's acquired. Bozman pointed to HP's acquisition of services company EDS as an example of Hurd's experience overseeing a merger. Oracle also needs to build up a services businesses if it expects to compete with the likes of IBM and HP. Williams said all of this-coming to a major IT vendor that is looking to absorb another large company-should look somewhat familiar to Hurd. "It is a 'back-to-the-future' moment for Hurd, who took the reins at HP under similar circumstances following HP's acquisition of Compaq, where HP had to drive out the cost from the acquired firm and construct a more efficient supply chain, sales model and sourcing strategy," he wrote.
He pointed to Oracle's Exadata offering, which tightly integrates Oracle software-including database and business intelligence solutions-on Sun hardware as an example of the direction Oracle is heading in, and said more systems will be announced at Oracle OpenWorld, which begins Sept. 19.