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Explaining Oracle's Sun Takeover — "For the Hardware" 154

Posted by timothy
from the well-and-the-awesome-logo dept.
blackbearnh writes "Brian Aker, former Sun MySQL guy, and current proponent of the Drizzle MySQL fork, gave O'Reilly Radar an update on where MySQL is at the moment. During the interview, he was asked to speculate on Oracle's original motives for acquiring Sun. 'IBM has been moving their pSeries systems into datacenter after datacenter, replacing Sun-based hardware. I believe that Oracle saw this and asked themselves, "What is the next thing that IBM is going to do?" That's easy. IBM is going to start pushing DB2 and the rest of their software stack into those environments. Now whether or not they'll be successful, I don't know. I suspect once Oracle reflected on their own need for hardware to scale up on, they saw a need to dive into the hardware business. I'm betting that they looked at Apple's margins on hardware, and saw potential in doing the same with Sun's hardware business. I'm sure everything else Sun owned looked nice and scrumptious, but Oracle bought Sun for the hardware.'"
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Explaining Oracle's Sun Takeover — "For the Hardware"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:53PM (#31796994)

    Oracle has been saying that they won't support Solaris on non-Sun/Oracle branded gear. This essentially means that even if 70% of your gear is Sun hardware running Solaris they won't support the 30%, even if that 30% was bought because there wasn't a good fit with Sun gear.

    I've heard the same thing about Java support.

    To add insult to injury, Project Caiman in OpenSolaris is going to force everyone to rebuild a lot of infrastructure and process (for reasons that all seem to point to ego and a complete misunderstanding of how sysadmins actually do their jobs).

    As a result, many companies (including the one I work for) are looking at making the jump to Linux on cheaper hardware. Given some of the other posts (including fanboi's like BenR), we're clearly not the only ones thinking this.

  • Hogwash (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Third Position (1725934) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:58PM (#31797020)

    Oracle originally only made an offer for Sun's hardware assets. They only bought the entire company after IBM made a bid for it. That doesn't sound much like Oracle had much enthusiasm for Sun's hardware. Apparently they bought it only because it came with the dinner.

  • Re:Hogwash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Third Position (1725934) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:00PM (#31797028)

    Ugh - make that "Oracle originally only made an offer for Sun's software assets.

  • And scaling (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:00PM (#31797034) Homepage Journal

    Cringely was on about this a year ago - Oracle needs Sun hardware to scale [cringely.com].

    Go go ahead and GPL ZFS, guys.

  • Re:Hogwash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:31PM (#31797214)

    Ugh - make that "Oracle originally only made an offer for Sun's software assets.

    According to Larry Ellison (in September 2009), they want to sells "systems":

    We are not going into the hardware business. We have no interest in the hardware business. We have a deep interest in the systems business.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmrxN3GWHpM#t=26m40s
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmrxN3GWHpM#t=38m03s

    Of course software is a significant component of any system:

    Systems is about eighty-five percent software--if you take out the microprocessor design. Microprocessor design is a complicated deal, it's a very complex component; Sun has a significant team, IBM has a significant team, Intel has a significant team, designing microprocessors. But when you get by the microprossor component, and you're assembling these systems, Cisco--I'm guessing--85-90 percent software.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmrxN3GWHpM#t=42m44s

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:45PM (#31797276)

    They are doing a crap job. Why? Well if you buy expensive SPARC hardware, you are going to run Solaris on it. It is the only thing really well made for that architecture. So what is Oracle now doing? Charging for Solaris. Not just charging, but being total dicks about it. You have to have their agreement, if you at any time lapse in the agreement, not only do you not get security updates, you are required to uninstall all the ones you've already installed.

    Hmmmmm... How do I feel about that for critical systems.... Oh ya: Fuck you.

    Seriously, this kind of shit could well kill SPARC. It is a very limited use platform anyhow. If you start screwing people over they may well abandon you for IBM's offerings, or just commodity x86 stuff (which is getting more and more high end offerings all the time).

    To me, it seems like Oracle WANTS to kill off the hardware. They can't just say "Nope, it is all discontinued, go away," as Sun has preexisting contracts with people and the contracts come with everything else. However if they are big enough dicks, everyone will switch of their own accord.

    It's that, or they really don't know how to try and run a competitive hardware business.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:20PM (#31797698) Journal
    We go over 2 to the power of 21 on UIDs maybe? That would be 2,097,152. Seen some pretty high ones lately.
  • by wmac (1107843) on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:34PM (#31797752) Homepage
    I have been an IT manager in a bank and I do not agree with you. OS selection is not just a technical matter.

    Those who have selected proprietary OS will replace it with another proprietary one. If they intend to use open source they will more likely to choose the most popular one.

    We were using HP-UX and Solaris. When we decided to use an open source OS for a particular server farm we selected Linux because that selection is less dangerous politically (it matches the consensus) and Linux market is more diverse and more supported.
  • by bertok (226922) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:19AM (#31797936)

    How did this get modded up? I know that it... sounds like it makes sense, but it's the exact opposite of what actually goes on.

    They're proving both quotes that 'real men build hardware" and that "real software lovers build hardware" from IBM and Apple.

    Both IBM and Apple design Software and Hardware to complement each other. Compare an iSeries or iPad to the typical Oracle setup where they are at the mercy of Intel, AMD, Microsoft, IBM, etc to get their Database to work. Defining a basic Schema is full of so many tips and tricks compared to any other database

    WTF? It's hard to define an Oracle schema because of a client's choice of instruction level compatible CPUs? Are you kidding me? I've never heard of anyone actually altering their database schema design to target it for either "Intel" or "AMD". That's insane.

    . Sure, it's nice to choose the "optimum" setting for every single block of data... but wouldn't it be BETTER to simply format the hard drive the way you want it in the first place and to build the most critical functions directly into firmware?

    First of all, it's quite possible to "format the disk" natively with Oracle's database files, bypassing the OS filesystem. Even Microsoft SQL Server can do that [microsoft.com], it's just not advertised as a big feature. Yes, there are performance gains (I've heard up to 20% in some corner cases), but it's almost never worth it, because the downsides are enormous. Managing a LUN is much harder than managing a file. Either way, this can be done now. There's no reason for some sort of magic hardware support.

    Second, somehow 'burning' Oracle in the firmware is neither going to make it faster, nor improve anything else. It'll just make it harder to patch and manage, and it'll mean that a future service pack may not fit into the limited flash space. I can't imagine too many deployments where the speed of the program storage is the limit. Even if it is, it's not like you can't boot-from-SAN or just buy an SSD for any old server now!

    IBM stuff can do really neat things like split database writes in the disk controller and keep track of multiple copies at once on redundant systems.

    Err.. you mean scatter-gather IO [wikipedia.org] and synchronous mirroring [microsoft.com]? Ooo... fancy stuff, I bet nobody's ever managed to do that in software!

    You just can't do that level of stuff with the tools Oracle or Microsoft has now.

    Yes, you can. The differences between the major vendors at the "low level" have been tiny for years and years now. The real differences are at the high-level, pure-software layer. Features like RAC differentiate DB2, Oracle, and SQL Server from each other, not the RAID controllers.

    Microsoft's sole existence is based on separation of hardware and software... so everybody squabbles between Intel/AMD, ATI/Nvidia, Oracle/MySQL, etc... and Microsoft gets rich playing "middleman" being the only party the others can legally talk to.

    Are you kidding me? Since when is Intel some poor pauper holding out a begging bowl to Microsoft? Last time I looked, both Intel and Oracle had market capitalisations over USD 100 billion, and were 'legally allowed' to talk to each other.

    There is already a company that makes a Sparc based blade for IBM BladeCenter chassis, drop it in an IBM Blade and share your SAN and have backplane-level network between the other hardware and OSes....this is what Oracle is after. Rather than keep playing games with other vendors, simply sell "Oracle" like IBM sells System i (iSeries). You would by an Oracle blade and simply connect that to your network. There's no point in loading multiple apps on hardware...
    it's so cheap now versu

  • by the linux geek (799780) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:23AM (#31797958)
    A lot of the appeal of AIX and i is the support for virtualization (#4 on your list.) Seriously, the LPAR system and other virtualization bits are the absolute best available, and they blow away everything else on the market. AIX may be a weird-ass UNIX with a lot of strange and occasionally unpleasant quirks, but there are perfectly good reasons why IBM is #1 on UNIX hardware, and the speed of POWER processors isn't the only one.
  • by Kymermosst (33885) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:59AM (#31798054) Journal

    Overall I like the hardware, though there are a few things that I find annoying. People say "fast" with the P6 CPUs...but they don't execute instructions out-of-order, so a high clock rate isn't what it appears. Another complaint is that I can't add/remove/swap CPUs and memory while the system is running, even on the 595s. Sun had this figured out ages ago. Lack of simple integrated systems management forcing the use of the HMC on the bigger boxes is also kind of annoying. IBM also requires that the HMC be placed within a certain distance of the systems, which forced me to get creative with a particular data center.

    There's a bit of complexity with support plans and cost as well. Even though AIX only runs on IBM hardware (as far as I am aware), you have to buy separate support for it. I suspect that there may be a few customers who ditch AIX and run Linux instead, I'd rather see the AIX support and Right to Use "in the box", so to speak.

    I have to say though that you're right about the virtualization and partitioning capabilities being some of the best out there. It sure comes with a steep learning curve (and don't get me started on LHEAs!).

    I suppose my dream world might be Solaris on either SPARC or POWER, with IBM partitioning/virtualization capabilities in a Sun frame with RIO connections...

  • by PhunkySchtuff (208108) <[kai] [at] [automatica.com.au]> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @04:02AM (#31798526) Homepage

    "I'm betting that they looked at Apple's margins on hardware, and saw potential in doing the same with Sun's hardware business."

    Are you freaking crazy? Sun's margins on hardware make Apple's margins look like small change. Having sold both in my career, there are retail margins of 8% on Apple hardware and anywhere up to 20-30% on Sun hardware. That's just the margins that the resellers make. Then there are the margins that Apple or Sun make themselves. Apple's are generally worked out to be around 30%, and I'd shit a brick of Sun's margins on hardware were anywhere less than this...

  • by mcnazar (1231382) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @05:19AM (#31798720)

    I don't know if its me (I'm getting jaded and cynical in my old age) but I do keep wondering how Oracle's takeover will affect Sun's OS efforts.

    The only reason I mention this is that there has been a noticeable (at least IMHO) change in VirtualBox development. Since the Oracle takeover, VirtualBox development seems to have changed direction or slowed down... I can't really put my finger on it but something noticeable has happened. I don't if the core devs have been affected/left or what.... but certain VirtualBox issues, issues you might think would be simple to fix, have remained unfixed for the last couple of months.

    Again, I'm not too sure if Netbeans (I haven't used Netbeans for 6+ months) is affected.

    Has anyone else noticed any shifts in Sun's OS offerings?

  • by dnaumov (453672) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @06:04AM (#31798822)

    > now ZFS is now production ready on FreeBSD 8

    I do not think that means what you think it means.

    If ZFS isn't production-ready in FreeBSD 8, it isn't production-ready in Solaris either.

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