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back to article Oracle's hardware wing keeps on bleeding

Oracle's shares dropped 7 per cent in after-hours trading in response to an quarterly earnings report that showed muted adoption for its latest software offerings and a continued shrinkage in its troubled hardware division. The database giant reported on Wednesday third quarter earnings of $2.504bn on revenues of $8.958bn – down …

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Anonymous Coward

How do they treat thier customers?

We used to be big fans of Sun stuff, but latterly they lost the way in some ways.

However, that was nothing compared to the changes under Oracle. Prices up, service on some products even more crap than before (and we though the bureaucracy under Sun was reaching implosion point), and the stuff we wanted/used dropped as the profit margins were not high enough.

Since then we have been migrating off Sun/Oracle based stuff, and no amount of sales team effort is going to change that.

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Anonymous Coward

Like ###, thats how they treat them

I own many servers, all of them supported by the manufacturer, as you would expect.

I have one Sun server.

Oracle will not supply a BIOS upgrade unless I pay for an absurd service contract which would be null and void anyhow because I put a new hard drive in to the machine.

I would suggest that buying any Oracle hardware would be a big mistake.

(I am being polite)

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Boffin

Re: Like ###, thats how they treat them

"....Oracle will not supply a BIOS upgrade unless I pay for an absurd service contract which would be null and void anyhow because I put a new hard drive in to the machine......" Well, to be fair to Snoreacle, whilst some other vendors will let you download a BIOS update, they all want you to have a service contract. And if you have a problem in a system with third party components such as disks, all vendors will ask you to remove the third party bits before they continue helping you. The most common grumble is system memory - vendor DIMMs will be more than twice what identical modules from Kingston cost, but all the vendors are very unlikely to support you having them in a server.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Like ###, thats how they treat them

The first Matt Bryant post I upvoted. Ever.

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HW sales "down a whopping 23 per cent year-over-year"

Even if we piss in the our competitors feeding troughs we can't persuade anyone to buy our HW.

Surely if we poison our "ex friends/new enemies" products all those pesky customers should be queuing up to buy our boxes.

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Thumb Down

Yes, and their DB customers as well

We have a bunch of Oracle DB-based apps whose cost to migrate them to another DB would make my head spin (provided it's even technically feasible) so we're stuck with them.

Despite paying ridiculous amounts of money for this service, their support is slowly approaching the point of being unusable. Unless your DB has crashed and burned, chances to get a reply from requests made on their dreaded Metalink (the slowest thing on Earth) within a week are close to nil nowadays.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes, and their DB customers as well

Have you looked into the EnterpriseDB migration utility? IBM also OEMed the tool from EnterpriseDB and added it to DB2. Apparently you can migrate all forms of PL/SQL code from Oracle to EnterpriseDB or DB2 and around 98-99% will run unchanged. I have never done it, but that's what they tell me.

http://www.enterprisedb.com/products-services-training/products-overview/postgres-plus-solution-pack/migration-toolkit

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Anonymous Coward

short-sighted

Companies often do like to buy all their IT setup from one place, it makes support and in-house IT training much simpler. Buying high-end systems from company "A" and low-end from "B" is a pain, two lots of contracts, two help desks, two support contracts. It will be much easier to choose company "C" who offers the whole range.

Oracle seems to be oblivious to this horizontal concept, despite its insistence that a one-throat-to-choke option vertically, hardware to app, is what customers want. Commodity hardware may not make big profits, but they aren't zero, there is still good revenue there. Unfortunately Oracle has ditched all the low-end Sun boxes and thinks it can make money from a high-end niche alone, but why buy Oracle big iron & Dell or HP low-end, when IBM will sell you both?

This looks very much like the mistake Sun made when it briefly dropped Solaris/x86. It reversed the decision pretty quickly, but never managed to recover credibility.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short-sighted

Yes, their x86 strategy is a mystery. They have said that they don't care if x86 revenues "drop to zero", it's a worthless, low margin business... but then they continue to half-heartedly sell x86 servers. Why not just end it instead of producing it and then telling people they are trying to get out of that business as soon as possible.

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Thumb Up

Re: short-sighted?

Because... they heavily push Oracle Linux (Redhat with modifications to make it work better with the database), and of course on their own hardware. Soracle HW, Roracle OS, Oracle database - SRO?

Honestly, their kit is competitive price-wise, and if everything is on the Red-Stack then you do have one throat to choke. And better than that, bugs are usually discovered and a patch made available before you find it (unlike on other platforms where YOU are the test mouse). Having ran Oracle in production (in order for various companies) on Solaris/Sparc, Solaris/x86, Windows/x86, Solaris/Sparc, Solaris/x64, W2008/x64, and now AIX/P7 - I can tell you that is a good thing!

In fact - I really hope to move to the more price competitive Oracle stack - just to get away from the AIX "support" issue.

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Stop

Re: short-sighted

".....when IBM will sell you both?......" Don't you mean IBM (and the lines they offloaded to Lenovo)? After all, both Dell and hp cover ALL the x86 offerings, whereras IBM is gradually retreating from them, making the same mistake you mention above. Of the three - hp, IBM and Dell - only hp can offer you everything from thin clients through the desktop, networking and storage to top-end UNIX.

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Happy

Re: short-sighted

....Oh and Fudgeitso, they too can offer the x86 client through to the UNIX backend, more than Dell or IBM. Must keep the Fudgeitso trolls happy!

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Trollface

Re: short-sighted

>only hp can offer you everything from thin clients through the desktop, networking and storage to top-end UNIX.

Unless of course the latest CEO of the month decides HP is going to be a software only company again and goes on another software company shopping spree overpaying all along the way. Still even HP I expect is going to start moving somewhat away from x86 commodity boxes. Only the Chinese seem to be able to shift enough boxes at low enough cost to cover the ultra thing margins and flat to declining sales these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short-sighted?

@Bryan Hall - "Because... they heavily push Oracle Linux (Redhat with modifications to make it work better with the database) ..."

Err... no. That's their marketing spiel. It's Redhat "with modifications" whose only real purpose is to *give their marketing dweebs* something to talk up. In reality, it's just bullshit and no better then Redhat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short-sighted

" Don't you mean IBM (and the lines they offloaded to Lenovo)? After all, both Dell and hp cover ALL the x86 offerings, whereras IBM is gradually retreating from them, making the same mistake you mention above. Of the three - hp, IBM and Dell - only hp can offer you everything from thin clients through the desktop, networking and storage to top-end UNIX."

HP flogs that line, but few IT managers care that they can purchase PCs, ink, calculators from the same company where they purchase enterprise servers/storage. It is much more important for a CIO to have vertical integration of hardware with the software stack, that IBM and Oracle provide, than procurement integration of a bunch of loosely related electronics products. If they want one point to source all of their stuff, that is what VARs are for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short-sighted?

"Honestly, their kit is competitive price-wise, and if everything is on the Red-Stack then you do have one throat to choke"

Really, and how much success have you had choking Oracle's throat for better pricing and support in the past?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short-sighted

Oh right - so PHUX (top end UNIX???? hahahahahahahahahahah) runs on x86 does it?

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Facepalm

Re: short-sighted

".....but few IT managers care that they can purchase PCs, ink, calculators from the same company where they purchase enterprise servers/storage....." Yeah, cos it makes no difference having one throat to joke, right? So, with the hp option, when anything goes wrong you call the same number, and if you have the pick'n'mix setup then first you have to work out who is actually the vendor for the kit ("Hey, the remote DNS server just died, does anyone know whether it's an hp or a Dell or a Fujitsu box?"), then you have to work out which number to call from all the support numbers you have listed..... And when you have an issue and you don't know whether it's the software stack, the server, the SAN switches or the storage array, having to work with four or more vendors all pointing fingers at each other never happens - not!

...... It is much more important for a CIO to have vertical integration of hardware with the software stack, that IBM and Oracle provide....." Except that hp can provide all the stacks that IBM or Snoreacle can (indeed, hp had to do the original hardware for Excretadata because of Oracle's lack of hardware knowledge), and because hp aren't tied to one line of software they can actually provide the best fit for the customer rather than the best fit for IBM or Snoreacle.

In Oracle's case, they inherited a failing hardware bizz which they never actually wanted (they tried to get hp to buy the hardware part of the Sun carcass), promptly fired or lost the majority of what little hardware skills were left by the Sunset (the smart and good staff saw it coming and left), a customer base that was already dwindling and not happy with the hardware support they were receiving from Sun, and have had to soldier on with what was probably the most narrow hardware offering of any of the upper tier vendors - is it any surprise they're drowning now?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short-sighted

>>>In Oracle's case, they inherited a failing hardware bizz which they never actually wanted (they tried to get hp to buy the hardware part of the Sun carcass), promptly fired or lost the majority of what little hardware skills were left by the Sunset (the smart and good staff saw it coming and left), a customer base that was already dwindling and not happy with the hardware support they were receiving from Sun, and have had to soldier on with what was probably the most narrow hardware offering of any of the upper tier vendors - is it any surprise they're drowning now?

But that's not actually true. Exadata sales have gone through the roof since they got rid of the HP rubbish. Sun was NEVER touted to HP but don't let the truth get in the way of your pointless rant.

So you whine on about the entire stack - please enlighten us to the RDBMS that HP sell that differentiates them from any other beige-box shifter. Oh right - they don't have one of their own do they? And as for PHUX sales - they're through the floor according to the last HP financials along with all their storage and server sales.

So where are all the PHUX fanbois now? Are they both in the huff with HP now?

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FAIL

Re: AC Re: short-sighted

".....Exadata sales have gone through the roof since they got rid of the HP rubbish....." Really? I suppose they did if you use the method of counting 3 sales in one month and then 9 sales in the next as "200% growth!". The Microsoft boys laugh at the Exadata annual sales numbers when comparing them to the number of MS SQL Server instances going in every day.

".....Sun was NEVER touted to HP......" I presume that immense set of Sunshine blinkers meant you missed articles like this (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/19/oracle_shopping_sun_hardware/)? Maybe you were too busy updating your CV and looking for a job outside Sun at the time? Do try and keep up, though I suppose it might be a bit hard if you've been unemployed since the Sunset.

".....please enlighten us to the RDBMS that HP sell that differentiates them from any other beige-box shifter....." You are missing the point - hp is the biggest "beige-box" shifter and across everything from the desktop to the enterprise datacenter, and can offer more options to the table. Tying yourself to just one database is limitting what you can offer us customers. The Snoreacle salesgrunt's options are usually offer something like Exadata (regardless of whether it fits), then Oracle on SPARC, then settle for Oracle on someone else's hardware - they're not too bothered because they primarily think about the licence revenue. Have you ever heard of Oracle being invited into a discussion about an email solution? The IBM salesgrunt mantra is even more old, rigid and defined - offer a mainframe, if that is not accepted offer p-series with AIX and DB2, drop the DB2 if forced and if all else fails go to M$ on x86, but avoid Linux if you can. Unlike SNoreacle, IBM will almost certainly be asked to participate in an email discussion (though they'll try and shaft you with Domino/Notes - yuck!). Hp will be asked to ALL the discussions and be able to offer everything Snoreacle can offer (yes, hp can build an Excretadata equivalent and with far superior management tools, seeing as it's just commodity gear), match just about everything IBM can offer with DB2 (hp are actually IBM's largest software partner!), plus everything Snoreacle won't want to talk about and IBM would prefer not to. Just try asking your Snoreacle guy about PostgreSQL - think he'll give you unbiased information? LOL!

".....And as for PHUX sales....." But still better than Slowaris and still better than Excretadata, and that's after Larry's massive FUD drive over Itanium. And hp still is the number one server vendor, waaaaaaaaay more than Snoreacle in what - fifth place? If we don't count the Chinese "whitebox" vendors, otherwise Snoreacle drops out of the top ten! And storage - never heard of 3PAR? Growing far faster than any Snoreacle line, especially Pillar. Try again, little troll!

/SP&L

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short-sighted

"Sun was NEVER touted to HP but don't let the truth get in the way of your pointless rant."

Matt is, amazingly, not just spouting HP fanboi/channel FUD in this case. Oracle did offer to sell all of Sun's hardware to HP, under Hurd. HP declined. It is all in the SEC filings. Humorously enough, Hurd is now in charge of selling Sun gear... the same products he passed on buying himself a few years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC short-sighted

" if all else fails go to M$ on x86, but avoid Linux if you can."

That is totally not true of IBM. Linux would have never become a mainstream server OS without IBM. IBM would much, much prefer Linux to MS.

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Facepalm

Re: AC Re: AC short-sighted

"......That is totally not true of IBM. Linux would have never become a mainstream server OS without IBM....." Very debatable, I think you'll find there was plenty of Linux on servers long before IBM woke up to the fact they could make money out of it.

".....IBM would much, much prefer Linux to MS." OK, let's just pretend for second that was true, that the IBM salesgrunt will pass up the AIX licence fees or the smaller M$ ones for a tiny ickle Linux one (if they customer wants a mainstream Linux like RHEL). So what do you think happens when the IBM VAR - who makes money from selling M$ licences and consulting, and rarely has any Linux skills - gets involved? If you think IBM (or their VARs) ever sell a Linux solution by choice then I have a great deal in Everglades real estate you'd probably be interested in! Even Linux on mainframe is just a defensive measure by IBM to prop up mainframe hardware support and stop customers switching mainframes out for cheaper platforms.

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Paris Hilton

Re: short-sighted

And why Meg wished she dumped the pc biz a long time ago....HP is getting crushed by tablets and phones.....was ibm incredibly smart or lucky....it really does not matter

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Paris Hilton

Re: short-sighted?

Oracle forked LInux and now you can't be assured your code will work everywhere... welcome to Unix Linux

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC AC short-sighted

"I think you'll find there was plenty of Linux on servers long before IBM woke up to the fact they could make money out of it."

They were small, 10-20 guys and a coffee maker small. No one really took Linux seriously or would touch it in the enterprise until IBM came around and put it on all of their servers in the 90s. No doubt they did it in the 90s because MS looked to be taking over the world, Sun was the dominant force in the Unix market at the time and IBM needed to change the game, but they still were the driving force. Ironically, now IBM owns Unix and they are, to some extent, competing with their own creation.

"OK, let's just pretend for second that was true, that the IBM salesgrunt will pass up the AIX licence fees or the smaller M$ ones for a tiny ickle Linux one (if they customer wants a mainstream Linux like RHEL)."

Most companies of any size don't buy MS or Linux licenses from their server provider on x86. They have their CALs and ELAs. IBM does sell Linux for Power and z, which would be a lot better for IBM, and likely the user, than MS of any stripe. Regardless, IBM sells a massive portfolio of software products, every one of which works better and has a stronger chance of being sold on Linux than putting MS in and watching MS try to pawn off BizTalk as an ESB... same reason Oracle prefers Linux. Oracle doesn't care at all about the paltry sum they make support RHEL, er OEL. They want a platform of their stack, or rather a platform which isn't completed owned by MS and set up for MS stack.

"So what do you think happens when the IBM VAR - who makes money from selling M$ licences and consulting, and rarely has any Linux skills - gets involved?"

If we were talking HP's high volume VARs, that would be true. IBM VARs generally have Unix/Linux skills, because they sell a lot of System p.

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Stop

Re: AC Re: AC AC short-sighted

".....in the 90s...." You mean when all the vendors suddenly got a hardon for Linux? IBM weren't the only one advertising all their servers as Linux-compatible, so were hp, even Dell (though you had to really beat them to get any actual Linux activity).

".... IBM sells a massive portfolio of software products, every one of which works better and has a stronger chance of being sold on Linux than putting MS in and watching MS try to pawn off BizTalk as an ESB,,,,," Yes, cos last time I looked RedHat and Cannonical had overtaken M$ in sales and size - not!

".....IBM VARs generally have Unix/Linux skills, because they sell a lot of System p." Compete male bovine manure! When the so-called "Linux evangalist" from a leading IBM reseller (largest in Europe) makes the mistake of spelling RHEL as RELL repeatedly through his slide deck you know his "evangelism" is about as sincere as his chances of actually selling you any Linux! I have taken Linux projects to hp, IBM and Dell and seen only hp respond with any real interest, both IBM and Dell wanted to switch it.

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I felt the biggest mistake Oracle made was restricting Solaris 11 to new hardware. It turns me off that I can’t test it out. We’re currently down to about 3 Sun systems (SFV440s) in addition to a lot of older Sun systems I keep running. Yes I actually have an old E220R running Big Brother just fine. Solaris has some really good things going for them, for example ZFS. I’ve no complaints with Oracle's migration of our support contracts or the costs. But from what I’m reading it seems Solaris is on its way out, which personally is something I’m sorry to see having worked on it for so many years.

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Not sure...

It seems to me that Oracle are commited to Solaris for their SPARC offerings and OEL for x86. I agree that their x86 roadmap is hazy at best but what I struggle with is the fact that their Exadata offering uses x86 and not SPARC. Also other hardware vendors (IBM, HP etc...) don't really offer full support for OEL which makes it even more problematic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure...

"Also other hardware vendors (IBM, HP etc...) don't really offer full support for OEL which makes it even more problematic."

I think most vendors, IBM System x for instance, just treat OEL as identical to RHEL from a support and certification perspective... because it is 99.x% the same code. They test RHEL and if it works, then OEL will work too.

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Bronze badge

Value for money?

Agreed. Dropping support for pre-niagara processors/systems from Solaris 11 seems shortsighted at best.

Larry may also be experiencing what happens when you turn the money screw too tight. Customers leave.

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Mushroom

woot

Maybe this means I will never have to develop for or on a SPARC machine ever again for a future job. Woohoo! SPARC machines are the only Unix boxes where I said gee I wish this thing had commodity x86_64 parts in it because its performance might be acceptable then.

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Re: woot

And yes I haven't worked on any SPARC machines that have came out in the last few years but considering that earnings report has anyone? Mostly everyone is moving off SPARC as fast as they can and certainly not buying new ones. Of course things were a different story a decade ago but two decades ago the same thing could be said for DEC.

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The Oracle machine is a strange beast. You look at their acquisition trail over the years and they have bought themselves a fairly decent hardware stack to complement what they already had. Sun for servers, Pillar AXIOM for SAN/NAS and Xsigo for fabric. I can understand the strategy completely, optimize Oracle software across these platforms and it makes a single point of contact very appealing.

The problem with Oracle, is just that it's Oracle, it's too big, too diverse, lots of people seemingly doing the same thing, a contact for everything, and to put it out there they just don't seem to do hardware very well as their background is dealing in software.

High staff turn over, we must have seen 4 account managers in the past 1 year, and apparently you can resign by online portal which says a lot to me. I just wonder if following these acquisitions, the staff who transfer to Oracle (the ones who hold the expertise in the said product stacks), just don't last long enough or don't want to be in the new world.

Like all businesses you come across some excellent individuals and I have met quite a few in Oracle, but it definitely seems like they lose a lot of customer confidence following an acquisition.

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Holmes

The ODMs are coming

With primary ODMs like Quanta moving into the US direct selling market, the server space is going to be even more differentiated between low-cost COTS and proprietary gear.

With COTS technology moving faster than proprietary, there' performance pressure on Oracle, too. This is going to accelerate in the database area, as COTS GPU technology is used to speed up dtabase operations, especially in the high-growth BIG Data segment.

Larry has his work cut out!

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FAIL

Albatross - Oracle created it!

I think its unfair of the vulture to think about Oracle having an albatross on its back - Oracle created the situation...

as an ex-Sun staffer, I can see what Oracle have done to the hardware biz - they screwed it!

Im not just bitter and twisted(okay, so I can be that too!), however, I went from being a Sun Staffer to being in contract negotiations with Oracle as a customer.

The experience was dreadful - one obstacle after another , and a quadrupling of the costs...for worse service.

They have completely demoralized the field support teams by getting rid of as many contracts as they can - yes, contracts - contracts to supply hardware services to big huge gigantic multinational companies - they couldnt be bothered putting in the work to create a bid for a worldwide support contract they were being handed on a silver plate......

Gawd - I thought Sun was badly managed with meetings about meetings for meetings to have a meeting about a meeting - but these guys take the biscuit!

Oracle hardware - meh ...... Im sure Larry thinks who needs the hardware biz and is really just been trying to get rid of it ever since buying it......but not letting anyone else profit or have his toys....

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Anonymous Coward

personally I think all major vendors will get out of the volume x86 server market

There is no money in it and the "commodity" pricing makes it junk. While Oracle's Exa-expensive stuff is integrated I think Cisco's UCS and IBM Pure is the future for all x86. HP better get moving cause xeon in Superdoom is not the answer and they are getting beat.

Hello Meg, answer your iphone.....your customers are running away.

Oh and Larry.... Computer Associates is calling, they want back their title of most hated software company.

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Paris Hilton

Re: personally I think all major vendors will get out of the volume x86 server market

interesting crystal ball......Cisco and VMware I think are also having a backlash because of their prices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: personally I think all major vendors will get out of the volume x86 server market

I think VMware and Cisco are about to be each others' largest competitors because of the VMware Nicira buy... which scares Cisco a lot more than Juniper or HP.

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