back to article Oracle stares into Sun for storage future

Oracle becoming a storage supplier through buying Sun - who would have thought it and what does it mean for Sun's storage products? There's long been a contradiction in Sun's storage array strategy. How can it push the open storage idea and simultaneously sell storage arrays with what amounts to proprietary controller hardware …

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Database Storage

I seriously can't imagine Oracle being in the storage hardware business in the long term. I would expect Oracle to seek to recoup some of the purchase price of SUN by attempting to sell off the storage hardware business to other vendors (assuming it can find any with deep enough pockets). HP, IBM, HDS and NetApp could all be in the fray.

In terms of storage software, that's a completely different issue. A software set that would allow commodity servers and networks to provide storage functions is certainly possible. With ZFS, Linux, Solaris X86 and clustering software they have many of the building blocks. HP are positioning the PolyServe product they acquired in much the same area. However, it takes time, and I remain to be convinced that customers really want general purpose servers as storage servers, but this sort of thing could be built into an appliance-type model with resilience and scale It's goping to be difficult, and unlike databases, there is less of a technical lock-in with any one storage supplier. With Oracle it is often not

One problem that Oracle are going to have to come to terms with the is the fundamentally different Open Source licesning models of what they have acquired from SUN and the Linux-based software that they have developed. The latter is GPL, unless they GPL'd the SUN open source software then there would be big problems merging the two (hence ZFS is a problem to put onto Linux in the way that it is installed into Solaris).

As far as storage and databases is concerned, in the case of high-performance transactional storage we are in the next 2-3 years going to get a radical shift to flash-based solid state storage. Already on a cost per IOP basis flash is ahead (and cost per IOP is often the big problem on transaction databases so you have to provide far too many spindles - just see any TPC'C' benchmark). Cost be GB is still going to be a long way behind hard disk for the forseeable future, but not so far behind that of the fastest, short-stroked enterprise disks. As far as latency is concerned, then hard disk can't get anywhere near competing. Fifty microsecond or better latency is possible with flash with hardisk being 100 times longer (uncached). Whilst this is going to revolutionise many transactional databases, it is also a fact that none of the current enterprise array manufacturers has storage solutions which can make full use of the number of IOPs that an array with a significant number of flash drives (especially SLC ones) could achieve. They simply run out of processing power. Also the FC protocols, SAN/Ethernet fabric pretty well gurantee not seeing better than 500 microsecond I/O latency.

The stage is set for a revolution in transaction database performance once the storage problem is fixed. Putting SSDs into current arrays is only a partial measure. I will be interested to see what Oracle come up with as the fundamentals have changed (the fastest SSDs by far site directly on PCIe buses, not on the ends of FC SAN networks).

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Go

MySQL only the beginning

"The MySQL database represents Oracle DMBS competition, but if Oracle could position it as a low-end stopper supporting its own database and not cannibalising its sales, then it could survive. Equally it might just be left to languish."

Or ..

"The MySQL database will replace the Oracle Express offering over time, but the syntax differences between Oracle and MySQL will slowly be removed, as will the enterprise features of MySQL like clustering, so people start off on MySQL but 'real' companies have to buy it's big brother".

What if :

The blade business spun-off to Cisco, the storage busines - particularly AmberRoad - merged with Pillar, spun-out and setup as a strategic competitor to EMC and NetApp but left to stand on it's own two feet, and the rest of the server line split: T-series boxes becoming Oracle database appliances - watch out for a T2-series Thumper - and maybe the pizza boxes either going it alone in a new tech-friendly company like Sun was (rather than a suit-friendly cHomPany like some others), or folded into the server line-up from Supermicro or Rackable et al ...

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Anonymous Coward

What about Oracle's HP storage business?

It was only in September last year that Larry and Mark Hurd from HP did a song and dance at Oracle's annual shindig in San Francisco to introduce the new Oracle/HP exadata storage system (http://www.oracle.com/database/exadata.html).

In fact at one point when Ann Livermore in person took to the stage, it was not clear whether it was an Oracle presentation or an HP one.

(...and (AFAIK) all oracle on demand is provisioned off NetApp)

At the same shindig in SF, Sun had generic PCs with Sun servers and EMC storage arrays - showing how joined up the story is in that camp.

So, confused messages from both Sun and Oracle on Storage. Personally I wouldn't invest in general purpose storage (or servers) from Sun now - even more so now the waters have been muddied by Oracle.

So what bits will Oracle sell off? SPARC to Fujitsu? OEL back to RedHat? Storage to Dell (who're reliance on EMC's products and have no credible hardware/software ecosystem of their own)?

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Coat

When's the firesale?

I've got 50-odd quid left in the swear-jar, I reckon I could pick up the rights to Niagara for that, just for fun!

/off to lie out in the real sunshine.

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Stop

The only way the Oracle-Sun merger makes sense

is if Oracle plans to morph into a general IT provider Oracle goes on to merge with Dell (for hardware/software lines and field sales force), Unisys (for break-fix) and one of the larger services companies (Perot, Accenture, CSC, etc) to augment professional services and outsourcing.

Otherwise, this makes little sense.

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Go

Or...........

Keep the software business, monetise MySQL effectively etc etc etc (Please see all previous articles and comments on IBM/Sun Hp+Oracle/Sun, Oracle/Sun)

Merge the Storage business and all its IP with Pillar (I hear Larry ordering a new yacht as we speak)

Sell the SPARC business to Fujitsu but keep the revenues from Solaris licensing.

Simple really.........................

P.S. can we have a Larry icon now?

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Dead Vulture

Chainsaw Larry won't fix anything

Larry's going to have to act like a little bit less the utter cunt he's grown used to being if he wants to make any of this work at all. Solaris IS open source, and there are a pile of people who'd rather branch it than deal with the creation of Soreacle.

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@Steven Jones

As things are right now they are attempting to become another IBM, with better products than IBM though...

Oracle will have no interest in putting ZFS into Linux. They will have a differentiating killer feature, they don't want it to share it with their competition(for free). I What I actually expect to happen is stopping contributions to projects like BTRFS and SystemTAP. As things are right now they will own the original thing ZFS and DTrace, will not make sense anymore to subsidize Linux development.

Oracle is a profitable company, it has no problem shutting off unprofitable projects even if they are their own.

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Anonymous Coward

Alternatively.....

Working for an SI and delivering complex IT systems, I know that you can't do everything on WinTel, well you can, but there can be very expensive drawbacks.

I also have heard that all is not well in the massively distributed systems and cloud computing department. High security environments are a nightmare for a start, as you never know what information is where, and what might have been left lying around, provably.

I suspect that Oracle will remain in the hardware business, and that the new Rock and T Series servers will appear under the "Sun an Oracle Company" label. How many properly engineered T series web, or application servers would you need in a company if the software is optimised for them, which shouldn't be that difficult for Oracle. Definitely look for low cost T Series appliances, and High End, high availability, very secure database servers, marry Trusted Solaris to Oracle Label Security at a much lower level and a lot of government agencies will be salivating at the mouth.

Not everything in IT revolves around commercial organisations, and there are lots of very valuable defence and security, and remember where Larry comes from and who his friends are, including Scott.

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@Matt Brynat

You don't need to spend your cash, hard-earned or not, to acquire the rights to the Niagara. The design is open sourced. Of course you still have that little issue of designing the server it fits in, paying for the fabrication, future developments and so on.

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Anonymous Coward

off-topic (by a smidgin)

That photo of Larry (on main Reg page, accompanying the link) - did you photoshop the hairdo (to look like a Roman Emperor), or is he really that much of a knob?

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Unhappy

Sun Jewels..

First of all, Sun had its head almost above water despite of..

1) poorpoorpoor marketing

2) short sight financial management

3) high R&D cost

4) huge internal bureaucracy

5) CEO with no understanding about management, you can not do everything at the same time!

Volume servers? ok.

Niagara + coming Rock processors based? Jewel.

OEM storage? ok.

Open Storage & Unified Storage? Jewel.

Solaris? Jewel.

Java? Jewel.

SPARC. mixed.

VDI? Jewel.

Other software? Really good products (Identity management, Glassfish, Netbeans etc.)

MySQL? Jewel.

-> with few different persons in management + less impulsive CEO they would have make it.

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Dead Vulture

"Oracle is now a competitor to EMC"?

Oracle has been a competitor to EMC for quite some time, since their acquisition of Stellent (a rival to EMC Documentum).

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Silver badge

@The only way the Oracle-Sun merger makes sense

Solaris is the most popular Oracle Unix platform.

Sun go bust / get bought by IBM - all those sites are suddenly shopping for new kit.

Do you think the IBM HW salesman on the doorstep might have been offering some inducements to switch to DB2?

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'Round and 'Round I.T Goes

Vertical integration is dead. At least that's what we used to say. As an old fart in this dusty corner of the world, I have seen the model shift from one-vendor-for-everything--hardware, services, software (OS and applications), think I.B.M in the 70s and 80s--to stick-to-your-knitting, chose best of breed: OS from company A, hardware from company B, applications from C-L, services from company M. Here we go again.

Oracle, it appears is no longer satisfied to be a huge software shop making healthy margins on licensing (short of running the mint, I know of nothing that comes closer to printing money than licensing).

Virtualization has revived the big box mainframe model. The new vertical integration, just like the old, will prize product differentiation over interoperability. Will Java be forked, with some features proprietary to Oracle and others remaining freely available? Will ZFS be proprietary?

A vertically integrated company can assure themselves acceptable margins on products that have up to now been under price pressure from outside vendors in one of two ways: Will it be innovation and economies of scale, or proprietary designs and walled gardens?

Early days. Oracle is accustomed to higher margins than many (any?) hardware companies. I wouldn't bet the house on openness. If R&D is slashed, that does not bode well for innovation. In the near term, bet on layoffs.

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Pirate

you're dreamin.....

oracle will pick off the few jewels they consider worthy, perhaps Java and some of the software app stuff. They'll then spin off the storage business and call it errrmmm lets think "storagetek", which has never been properly intergrated into Sun fully anyway, i can't see them retaining the services at all and if EDS hadn't been snapped up by HP i'd see it going there (so look for someone similar), fijitsu will pick up what's left (and pick up where Sun left off). Schwarz will reitre and spend more time at the kindy......... Mcnealy will sit back wonder where it all went wrong.....

Don't forget Oracle need a few vendors or so, so they can manipulate their licensing options, it makes no sense for them to remove a revenue source from the market.

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Joke

New Name

how about Snoracle or just Snorcle?

i wouldn't be surprised if they just kept 2 separate titles.

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Anonymous Coward

@New Name

Unlike the festering pile of maundering donkey flop that is HP, Oracle actually value the brand name built up over many years.

Just look at Peoplesoft. One of the big boys taken over by Oracle but still a household name.

My money is on Sun retaining the name for servers.

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