SAN JOSE, Calif.—A surprise "virtual visitor" showed up during the leadoff keynote at Dell's Enterprise Forum June 4: Mark Hurd, Oracle's co-president, appearing via widescreen video before a couple thousand conference attendees.
Hurd made an appearance at Dell's biannual enterprise showcase to reveal that Oracle had agreed to an enhanced long-term partnership with Dell to fill in gaps in both companies' portfolios of products and services.
The two huge companies are each at a crossroads in their corporate development, with both striving to become all-purpose IT providers. To do that, Oracle is becoming more of a hardware company and Dell more of a software company. They sometimes compete for the same customers in servers and storage; lately, they've been completing in cloud services.
But each company has something the other lacks: Oracle has its databases, big data analytics and high-end enterprise customer list; Dell has its x86-type servers and storage to go with its strength in the midrange and small-business market.
Both Companies Want to Add New Market Share
Oracle would like to move down the food chain into bigger markets; Dell would like to move up to larger enterprise business. So there is synchronicity in how they might work together with customers.
Neither Hurd nor any of several Dell executives would get too specific about how this will work between them and for customers.
"Right now, we're looking at joint collaboration in optimizing solutions in shops that use both companies," said Cheryl Cook, Dell's vice president of enterprise solutions. "These include Oracle Linux systems that run on our x86 servers and storage."
Key points in the agreement:
—Dell and Oracle will become "preferred" mutual partners, which means that salespeople will recommend those companies' products before any others in specific use cases. As an example, Dell will become the preferred x86 server vendor for Oracle over competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems. Dell also will become a preferred enterprise infrastructure partner for Oracle.
—The two companies will develop some new integrated offerings using Oracle Linux, Oracle Virtual Machines and Oracle Enterprise Manager running on Dell PowerEdge servers and Compellent or EqualLogic-based storage.
Joint Systems Already Validated as Reference Architecture
The Dell-Oracle Joint Infrastructure Solution is tested and validated as an application-ready platform for enterprises, according to Marius Haas, Dell's president of enterprise solutions. It produces a set of reference architectures that delivers high-performance, cost-effective infrastructure offerings, he said.
The two companies will streamline customer support offerings to provide companies of all sizes with a single point of contact from Dell for all support-related needs, Haas said.
"This partnership with Dell is an extension of Oracle's engineered systems strategy, where we ... reduce integration costs by delivering hardware and software together," Hurd said. "We believe that by working together, Dell will gain significant market share by delivering to its customers an integrated, optimized solution designed to deploy business-critical applications.
"This is just the beginning of a lot of great things to come."
Haas said the integrated offerings should be available to customers in the second half of 2013.