Oracle Races to Catch Up
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said Oracle is in a difficult position. Normal product cycles usually run 12 to 24 months, and it has only been six months since Oracle closed the deal on Sun. Meanwhile, its competitors already are pushing ahead with product plans that have been under way for years in some instances. King pointed to Oracle's focus on workload-optimized systems. The company plans to hit that part of the industry hard by the end of the year or in 2011, he said. However, IBM has been selling such systems for more than a year already.Every major vendor is getting into it, he said, either with its own offerings, as IBM has, or through collaborations, such as the alliance between Cisco Systems, EMC and VMware. "It makes sense for them to go there, but given the ... acquisition, they're going to get there a day late," King said. "We'll just have to see if they'll be a dollar short." Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight 64, said Oracle is moving in the right direction with Sun, and the fact that executives are now able to talk about a road map that stretches out to 2015 is important. Oracle also has brought greater stability to a Sun hardware business that had appeared to take off in multiple directions, Brookwood said. The company has pared projects that showed little chance of making money and simplified the process for developing SPARC chips, and is focusing on two lines of SPARC servers, the T and M series, he said. All this is important for everyone else in the Oracle server development team, from the Solaris engineers to application developers. "They now have a story here that kind of holds together better than it did in the olden days," Brookwood said. "It's a lot more credible and coherent than what I'd been hearing during the [ex-Sun CEO] Jonathan Schwartz era." Now that Oracle executives can talk about road maps and projects, the key challenge will be execution, he said. If Oracle can bring products to market on time, and with the type of performance that's being promised, that will go a long way in giving the company the credibility it needs to compete in the space.
"The market for workload-optimized systems is still pretty new," King said. "The problem for Oracle is that it's getting more and more crowded."