Oracle Corp. last week announced a partnership with IBM that could, depending on the outcome, prove to be a groundbreaker in the IT industry.
During his keynote address at the companys Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, Charles Phillips, Oracle co-president, outlined the Oracle Fusion architecture—a blueprint of how the company is going to move its applications forward, based on Oracle Fusion Middleware.
Then, almost as an aside, while framing Oracles new "hot-pluggable" concept, which enables third-party applications to work in the Oracle environment, Phillips said, "Oracle will work with WebSphere products when we get to Fusion."
While some sort of formal relationship between Oracle and IBM has been looming on the horizon, it hasnt been clear how deep the relationship with IBM would go.
And its still not. But the basics are in place.
Oracle will certify IBMs WebSphere middleware stack as a native platform for the next generation of Oracle Fusion applications. It will, essentially, enable a separate run-time environment for IBMs WebSphere middleware products for the Fusion applications.
The two companies will also work together to develop open standards where there are none, for example, in the area of Web services.
"This could be an industry-changing event," said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Berkeley, Calif. "Does this mean the [Oracle] 9i Application Server is out and WebSphere in? [A partnership between IBM and Oracle] is a first among equals; thats key. It serves notice on SAP [AG] that they have to do something with their application server."
When Greenbaum asked Safra Catz, Oracles co-president, about the IBM relationship, she said, "Things are changing. We are IBMs largest ISV. The value of a platform is the number of applications on it. This is the world we live in."
Oracles relationship with IBM still leaves the database question unanswered.
"Were still working on that. We havent come to any conclusions," said Phillips in a Q-and-A session with press and analysts. "There are some trade-offs to give up with not being optimized on the Oracle database. If we dont use it, [work becomes] more manual, less secure. So weve got some confusion."
Though the IBM-Oracle partnership is big, IBM is not, by any means, the only relationship Oracle is pursuing.
A company that long held the reputation of being closed—even hostile—to partners, Oracle is throwing open the floodgates, attracting partners at a dizzying rate (many through acquisition).
"We now have 15,000 partners," said Phillips during his keynote address. "Before we had 10 to 20 percent."
As part of its new focus on developing and promoting a partnership ecosystem, Oracle announced at the conference its One Stop Support for ISVs. For those Oracle-certified partners, Oracle will "select some of them" and make them part of the Oracle support program, said Phillips.