SAN FRANCISCO-Since IBM already has the nickname Big Blue, its newest enterprise systems competitor, Oracle, is now staking out its own visual identity: It wants to be known as the Red Stack.
"I hope it [Oracle] isn't using red because of the rumored bleeding," one Silicon Valley corporate executive joked to eWEEK, referring to the financial hemorrhage Oracle has suffered while acquiring Sun Microsystems.
Identification by color not withstanding, Oracle has had five months since its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun-which used to be known by its own color, the purplish Sun Blue-to integrate Sun's storage division.
Oracle has formulated and clarified its product and go-to-market strategies heading into the second half of 2010, and now the world's largest database maker is taking its show on the road to where the CIOs are for the next month.
Oracle kicked off its summer Storage Summit series here at the Westin on July 14. Future sites and dates for the summit are Chicago and Denver on July 15, Milwaukee on July 20, Cincinnati on July 21, Columbus, Ohio, on July 22, Detroit on July 27, Independence, Mo., on July 28, Indianapolis on July 29, Omaha, Neb., on Aug. 5, Memphis, Tenn., on Aug. 18, and St. Louis on Aug. 24.
"You've all heard the phrase 'one throat to choke,'" Oracle Director of Storage Sales Consulting Rob Klusman told an audience of about 200 CIOs, CTOs and data center managers July 14 at the summit. "We'd like to change that. We'd like to be known as 'the one hand to shake.'"
Indeed. Oracle, like a lot of other IT systems companies, wants to be your full-service storage provider-in addition to selling you parallel databases, middleware, virtual machines and lots of business applications. Not to mention Exadata servers, Java networkware and even a data center switch-if you need one.
Can Oracle truly offer open choice?
At the same time, however, Oracle distances itself from the accusation of potential vendor lock-in by offering to support existing open-standards infrastructures and augment them with any or all of the above, plus its new Sun and StorageTek storage gear.
These are the key messages in the overall storage and data center strategy Oracle will follow for the next several months. However, it remains to be seen whether Oracle can actually walk that tightrope and maintain the credibility it has gained after 33 years in the IT business.
IT systems companies are fond of saying, in effect, "We believe in open standards. You can buy whatever you need from us and we'll integrate it into your system. If you like what we have, you can buy more as time goes on, because it's all modular."
At the same time, these companies want to sell customers as much as they can from their own catalog, which leads to increasing dependence upon a single vendor, or "one throat to choke."
Finally, these companies like to tell potential customers: "When everything is tightly coupled," meaning from the same manufacturer or partner group, "it just works so much better." This may be true, but IT managers still have to weigh this against the long-term consequences of relying on a single vendor.
When it comes down to making a buying decision, IT managers need to assess the attitude of each of the systems makers-including Oracle, a newcomer to this business-to determine whether there is indeed enough flexibility in this regard to allow a comfortable relationship.
Oracle Storage Marketing Director Michael Brown offered the audience an overview of Oracle's recently updated Sun storage systems. The company also outlined recent upgrades in its overall data stack-the Red Stack.