Oracle to Keep Investing in Sun's Server Lines

Oracle on Wednesday is expected to offer assurances that it will continue to invest in all of Sun Microsystems' main server platforms, in an effort to convince Sun customers that they should stick with those products as the database giant works to reinvent itself as a systems and software company.

By James Niccolai
Wed, January 27, 2010

IDG News Service — Oracle (ORCL) on Wednesday is expected to offer assurances that it will continue to invest in all of Sun Microsystems (JAVA)' main server platforms, in an effort to convince Sun customers that they should stick with those products as the database giant works to reinvent itself as a systems and software company.

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Oracle executives are due to give an update on their strategy for the combined company, including how it will reconcile overlapping products, during a five-hour event Wednesday at its Redwood Shores, California, headquarters.

The event, which will be webcast, follows the European Union's approval last week of Oracle's acquisition of Sun. The deal is expected to clear the remaining regulatory hurdles soon, and Sun filed paperwork Tuesday to delist its shares from the Nasdaq stock market (NDAQ).

In a brief interview ahead of the event, Bob Shimp, group vice president for Oracle's technology business unit, said Oracle will continue to invest in Sun's multithreaded UltraSparc T family of processors, which are used in its Niagara servers, and the M series server family, based on the Sparc64 processors developed by Fujitsu.

"We'll be investing up and down the line" of Sparc platforms, Shimp said. Oracle will also continue to develop and sell Sun's x64-based servers, which use processors from Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and also its Netra servers, he said.

Oracle will provide a "reasonable amount of detail" Wednesday about its plans for the companies' product lines, which also include databases, Java middleware, operating systems and storage gear. There is overlap in many areas, notably middleware, and analysts expect Oracle to discontinue at least some of the products.

However, some product questions are likely to go unanswered Wednesday, and Oracle plans a series of webcasts in the coming days to provide more details.

A big theme at the event will be how Oracle says it can build better systems for customers because it owns so much of the enterprise server stack under one roof. It will develop more products, like its Exadata Database Machine, that combine hardware and software optimized for particular tasks, such as data warehousing.

"Having all those pieces in-house gives Oracle an opportunity to do all the tuning and tweaking of components so that they work well together, and it may help them bring products to market more quickly," said IDC analyst Jean Bozman.

However, "a lot of customers already have pieces of the stack installed, they've already chosen an application, a database, a piece of server hardware. That's where it gets interesting, because Oracle will still have to partner to go after those businesses," she said.

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