Oracle, Sun chiefs take the stage together

Ellison, McNealy stress common ground, mix in jokes, potshots

Redwood Shores, Calif. -- If there was one key message at a public summit meeting of sorts between the chief executives of Sun Microsystems and Oracle on Tuesday, it was that the companies have been and will continue to be partners.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Sun Chairman/CEO Scott McNealy took the stage at an Oracle-Sun "Employee Town Hall" meeting at Oracle headquarters to herald this partnership. Specifically, they revealed that Oracle has signed up for a new 10-year license to develop on the Java platform, and Sun will offer a specially priced bundle of a Sun UltraSPARC server with Oracle Database10g software and a year of service.

Sun also will migrate its internal ERP systems to Oracle's latest ERP software and rely on Oracle's advertising and marketing group to help promote Sun products.

"We have a good position here with you guys and we want to maintain that," McNealy said.

"We're going to market together against some fairly formidable competition," McNealy added. Both companies are on the same team, he said.

"I can't emphasize how important Java is to Oracle," Ellison said. "We have based our entire middleware strategy on Java and J2EE."

Oracle is rewriting its business applications in Java, Ellison said.

Presenting a stark contrast from Oracle's recent emphasis on Intel and Linux, which compete with Sun's systems, the two CEO's systems instead emphasized common interest, but Ellison noted the partnership was not exclusive. Oracle will continue its endeavors in Linux and with the Eclipse open source tools endeavor that has rivaled Sun's NetBeans open source platform. 

"I don't want to imply that our only partner here is Sun just as Sun doesn't want to imply going forward that its only partner is Oracle," Ellison said.

Oracle did note that it also backs NetBeans. However, Sun's Timothy Cramer, director of the NetBeans program at Sun, said the companies still were exploring exactly what types of collaboration the two companies will have with regard to NetBeans.

The session featured the usual potshots at rival Microsoft, which Ellison called proprietary; at SAP, which Ellison also called proprietary; and IBM, with McNealy bashing the IBM Global Services group. Asked about Sun's ongoing partnership with Microsoft, McNealy said Tuesday's forum was not the place to delve into that.

Ellison noted that Sun and Oracle will compete in certain areas of middleware, but added the companies needed to work together. He cited LDAP directories as one area of overlap.

Tuesday provided an opportunity for Oracle to endorse Sun at a time when Sun's financial prognosis has been in question, said analyst Jean Bozman, research vice president at IDC. "I think [with] alliances like this, one of the intentions is to underscore viability," Bozman said

The two executives mixed their presentations with humor, or attempts at such.

"Everybody here wants to know right up front, if we could just take this off the table [and get a] big announcement out of the way, are you buying Sun," McNealy asked Ellison to open the session.

"Well, you know, Scott," Ellison responded, interrupted by a request for "simple yes or no," from McNealy.

"It turns out Oracle's strong preference is to do everything hostile-ly," Ellison said, in an apparent reference to the company’s takeover of PeopleSoft.

McNealy also joked that Sun cannot match Oracle's large conference room, where the presentation was held, because hardware has lower margins than software.

Oracle recently announced its endorsement of Sun's Solaris 10 operating system as its preferred development and deployment platform for 64-bit computing. Oracle also endorsed Sun's recently announced Sun Fire T1000 and T2000  servers.

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