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A year later: has Oracle ruined or saved Sun?

Paul Krill | Feb. 10, 2011
The company irks open source advocates but is steadfast in upgrading Sun-derived technologies

Oracle also raised the price of low-end MySQL support, with the annual cost jumping to $2,000 per server, up from $599 per server.

Sparc: The Sun CPU also marches on Oracle is now the owner of Sun's prized Sparc CPU platform -- another technology that Oracle didn't support when Sun was its own company. Sparc pretty much lost the mind share and market share battles to Intel (INTC), with few people even talking anymore about the debate between CISC and RISC architectures (Sparc uses the latter, and Intel uses the former). Still, Oracle continues to release products that use Sun's Sparc chip while upgrading the chip itself.

Oracle enhanced the Sparc Enterprise M-Series server product line in December with a new processor, the Sparc64 VII+. In September, Oracle introduced a 16-core Sparc processor, the Sparc T3. But a follow-up T4 chip will have just eight cores on each chip, with the company looking to improve single-thread performance, which is important for running large databases and back-end applications.

Among Oracle's Sparc-based hardware rollouts was the Sparc Supercluster, based on Sparc T3 and M5000 servers, that Oracle introduced in December. It has been positioned as a platform for the Oracle database and RAC (Real Application Clusters).

Oracle continues to invest in other Sun hardware On the client side, Sun introduced the Sun Ray 3 and Sun Ray 3i clients. The 3i device features a high-definition display, while the Sun Ray 3 is billed as the company's lowest-cost thin client.

In the storage space, Oracle unveiled in January the StorageTek T10000C tape drive, with 5TB of native capacity. The company's Sun ZFS Storage Appliance product line, revealed in September, features integration with Oracle's database and applications as well as with Oracle Fusion middleware and Solaris.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa gives Oracle a thumbs-up on the job it has done with Sun hardware. "Given that Sun was struggling financially for years prior to the acquisition, and that it was facing some serious adjustment in the scale of its hardware business, I think Oracle has done well so far from a financial perspective, keeping the business on track, the margins inline and growing its software revenues," he says.

The verdict on Oracle's stewardship of SunA year after the Sun acquisition by a database and middleware company with no experience in hardware or Unix OS development, it's clear that Oracle is driving the Sun technology mantle forward, where Sun could not survive on its own. Although Oracle had product redundancies with Sun such as in the application server and IDE spaces, Oracle had no such overlap in the chip set, hardware, and Unix operating system it was acquiring -- unlike IBM, the other candidate interested in Sun. Less of Sun may have survived in that scenario.


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