Oracle, Fujitsu Expand SPARC Server Development Pact

Oracle and Fujitsu, which are competing with IBM, say their jointly developed SPARC64-based Unix systems will offer 15 times the performance within the next three years.

Oracle and Fujitsu are expanding their SPARC-development partnership, promising performance from the companies' Enterprise M-series servers that will be 15 times better over the next three years.

The two companies-which are competing against the likes of IBM in the high end of the Unix market-also said Feb. 15 that the sales teams for both can now jointly sell SPARC Enterprise systems, and that Fujitsu signed a new distribution agreement with Oracle enabling the company to resell and distribute Oracle products.

"Oracle's partnership with Fujitsu has never been stronger," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said in a statement. "We are entering a new phase with Fujitsu, aligning our engineering and worldwide distribution efforts with a focus on high-performance, highly reliable systems."

The move is the latest by Oracle, which bought Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion a year ago, as it looks to become a significant rival to IBM in the high-end system space. Though questions abounded after the deal was announced about what Oracle would do with Sun's hardware business, Ellison and other Oracle officials followed through with promises to invest in both the processor and server technologies.

Ellison has talked about the winning combination of Oracle software-including the Solaris operating system it acquired via the Sun deal-and Sun SPARC and x86 hardware, comparing it to how IBM's optimizes its software on its own hardware. Along with IBM, Oracle also is competing directly with the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems and Dell in the converged data-center space.

Along with the hardware and everything else, Oracle adopted the Fujitsu relationship in the Sun deal. Several years before the Oracle acquisition, Sun and Fujitsu had entered into an agreement to jointly develop high-end systems based on Fujitsu's SPARC64 processing technology for high-end Unix servers. That would free up Sun to work on its own multi-threaded SPARC technology, as well as on its efforts around x86 systems.

When Oracle bought Sun, Ellison said he would leave the midrange and low-end server businesses to HP and Dell, focusing instead on higher end systems that would tightly integrate Oracle's business applications with the hardware. Along those lines, Oracle has created the Exadata Database Machine and the Exalogic cloud-in-a-box offering.

Oracle officials have been vocal about their hardware plans. In August, Oracle officials said they were going to attack the high-end server space with Oracle-developed SPARC systems that will double in performance every other year through 2015 and scale to 128 cores. In December, Oracle announced a new enclosure for Enterprise M-series servers that will feature logos from both Oracle and Fujitsu.

"I am very pleased that our partnership with Oracle continues to grow," Fujitsu president Masami Yamamoto said in a statement. "We believe our active partnership with Oracle, in addressing greater sales and services on a global scale, will produce a richer and more vibrant solution environment for our joint customers."

Oracle's moves have caught the attention of its largest competitor. In September 2010-as controversy swirled around HP and the ousting of its CEO, Mark Hurd-IBM CEO Sam Palmisano told the Wall Street Journal that he was less concerned about HP and that it was Oracle that was now its most formidable opponent. During his tenure, Hurd had cut too much of HP's R&D budget, Palmisano said. Meanwhile, Oracle was now competing with IBM not only in software and services, but-with Sun in the fold-in hardware, too.