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Oracle + Sun Strategy Update Webcast unveils future direction

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Although the Apple iPad event got far more buzz, Oracle presented a very important press conference yesterday (Jan. 27) as well.

After about 9 months of waiting, the European Commission finally approved the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle. At the day of that announcement, Oracle announced the  Strategy Update Webcast.

The webcast started at 18:00 in The Netherlands and lasted until late. Still, from following Twitter [2], it was clear that a lot of people we attending. Although I won’t be complete, I’ll share some of what I heard with you in this blog.  The webcast started with a extensive safe harbor statement [3] explaining that Oracle cannot be asked to deliver on their promises. So… there we go.

Hardware

There was lots of talk about hardware. Following the strategy that has made IBM big (at least according to Larry himself), Oracle wants to sell end-to-end everything. They will continue to sell the Sun hardware and will keep the strong Sun brand. Oracle will make a lot of changes to the distribution and supply chain models to reduce cost. Also, expect a lot less sales through the old Sun channels: “partners need to add value, or we’ll go direct”.

The big investments will go to enhance the Sun platform with embedding specific functionality, like encryption, to make the total solution (hardware, OS and software) better. Oracle will also bundle the apps with the hardware. The first steps are already there with the announcement during OpenWorld in 2009 of the second database machine based on Sun hardware.

I was glad to hear that Oracle will continue to support the other platforms and operating systems, specifically Linux of course.

Software

The product portfolio of Sun is extensive and covers a broad range of functionality. Some of its products overlap with the Oracle product suite and some products seem to be quite alien to the core business of the former database company. After the BEA Systems take over, that has quite a (potential) impact for some Oracle customers, I was curious to see what the direction would be for the Sun middleware components. Besides hardware, MySQL and Java, Sun has an extensive set of products that overlap the Oracle stack. Examples are Glassfish, Open ESB and Netbeans.

Some of the announcements (or at least my interpretation of them):

Concluding

Oracle has used the forced delay well and showed strong valid plans. As with every acquisition Oracle promises continued support for all Sun products (except the ones that Sun already declared end-of-life). That will of course not stop them to try to persuade us to migrate to the strategic Oracle product lines.

For the main focus areas of Whitehorses, the changes at hand give us some very nice opportunities. And it looks like the Sun acquisition will have a lot less impact on Oracle SOA & middleware customers than the BEA purchase had/has.

All in all it was a good overview covering all aspects of the Sun offering. Oracle has big plan, has lots of experience in merging companies and expects to make Sun profitable this year. Oracles fiscal year that is!

The webcast is or will be available on demand through the Oracle site [4]. There are additional webcasts [5] discussing the future direction for each product area.