Sun, Oracle Tighten Alliance

Companies to reduce deployment costs.

IT departments under pressure to keep costs down welcome a move by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp. to lower the cost of deploying the two companies software and systems.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., and Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., are tightening their 20-year-long alliance with what officials said will result in a "no finger-pointing" service and support scenario for joint customers.

"What this means is you have absolute, total choice across the two product lines, with only one throat to choke," said Scott McNealy, president, chairman and CEO of Sun.

At an event in San Francisco last week, McNealy and Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison spoke about how many data centers in the near future are going to run smaller servers linked by technology such as Oracles Real Application Clusters and running as one large system.

In support of that vision, Sun has made available two new low-cost, rack-optimized servers, the Sun Fire V60x and V65x. The V60x is a 1U (1.75-inch-high) one- to two-way system powered by Intel Corp. 2.8GHz Xeon processors that can run either Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux or Suns Solaris x86 Platform Edition. The entry-level server—which is aimed at such jobs as Web serving, e-mail and caching—also features up to 6GB of memory and three Ultra320 SCSI hard drives, according to Sun. The 2U (3.5-inch) V65x can run one or two 2.8GHz or 3.06GHz Xeons and comes with up to 12GB of memory, six 36GB or 73GB hard drives, and up to six PCI-X slots, Sun officials said. In addition, McNealy said Sun has formed a global agreement with Linux developer Red Hat.

At the event, McNealy and Ellison said Oracle software will run with the Solaris and Linux operating systems on all x86 hardware from Sun. The software includes everything from the Oracle9i database and Oracle9i application server to Oracle Collaboration Suite.

The two companies are also going to ensure that Oracle software can be automatically deployed within data centers powered by Suns N1 strategy, an initiative to virtualize the data center, enabling the dynamic management of resources within the centers.

The two companies will also integrate Suns StarOffice suite with Oracles Collaboration Suite and will collaborate on joint marketing and support programs.

Oracle users have been waiting a long time for Oracle software to run on low-cost Sun boxes, according to Richard Niemiec, president of the International Oracle Users Group and CEO of TUSC (The Ultimate Software Consultants), an Oracle consultancy. "People [are saying that] this is huge and that its about time," said Niemiec, in Chicago. "Its good for Oracle. They need to be hardware-agnostic. They have a large contingent on Sun [hardware], and they need to keep that contingent happy."

Any ground gained at the lower end of the market will likely carve away territory now claimed by Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server, Niemiec said.

"It positions Oracle at the lower end to a much-greater degree than they were previously," he said. "Another benefit is that many people, for their main server, have Sun. For their departmental, smaller servers, theres now potential to consolidate on Sun as an alternative to SQL Server."