Oracle: Late entry with strong bloodlines

Company: Oracle

Entry: Oracle-Sun-Virtual Iron

Morning Line: 6-to-1

Tip sheet: Late entry with strong bloodlines. Never bet against Larry Ellison down the stretch.

Two months ago, Oracle wouldn't have leapt to mind as a potential contender in the next-generation data center. But that was pre-Sun, pre-Virtual Iron. Now, all of a sudden, Oracle has an interesting data center story to tell.

Mitchell Ashley, a principal consultant with Converging Networks, said in a recent blog post that the Sun acquisition is about "taking Sun's loosely banded software strategy and honing it into a strategically aligned set of weapons against Microsoft."

He added, "Oracle now has ownership of the full and complete software stack, from OpenSolaris, up through Java, right up to key enterprise apps. Oracle is now in control of its software destiny, but much of it open source with OpenSolaris and MySQL, plus Java (at least considered non-proprietary), like Microsoft has had with its proprietary Windows, SQL Server, .Net. I believe Ellison's squaring off to deliver the biggest blow to Microsoft he can, once and for all. Gates is out of the picture, IBM's busy moving jobs offshore, and Microsoft's mid-course in a battleship maneuver to change direction towards the cloud. What better time to strike and leapfrog everyone to the front. "

But whether you choose to cast Oracle's move as a mano a mano between Larry Ellison and his archenemies in Redmond or something less personal, Oracle now also has ownership of some solid virtualization technology that it can use to supplement Oracle VM, its Xen-based server virtualization software."

Sun has a full virtualization suite, covering desktops, servers and storage. Plus, it's done some nifty development on its virtualization management software, Sun xVM Ops Center, that enables it to do full data center management, Ashley says. "The Virtual Iron purchase on top of this tells me that Oracle is taking more of a virtualization play into the data center as opposed to just a hardware play."

Virtual Iron's server virtualization management platform will become part of the Oracle VM and Oracle Enterprise Manager product lines. The goal will be helping customers optimize capacity utilization with more dynamic resource management; reduce server power consumption with automated power management tools; and provide deeper insight into server performance and utilization at every layer, the company says.

Ultimately, Oracle could be gunning for the day when the operating system isn't so important anymore, suggests John Turner, director of network and systems at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

"If I'm an Oracle, and I want to deploy a new installation of PeopleSoft applications in a high-volume area, and I look at the number of support calls that would come in, and the upgrade costs, I'd like to think about deploying a virtual application in a cloud without worrying about the operating system, storage and the network," Turner says. "We'd really start to think more about deploying the application and less about the engineering behind it."

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This story, "Oracle: Late entry with strong bloodlines" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.