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Oracle To Increase Investment In SPARC and Solaris 146

An anonymous reader writes "The Slashdot community has recently questioned what Oracle will do with Sun hardware if and when Oracle's acquisition of Sun closes. And it seems that speculation about the future of SPARC hardware has been common among Slashdot commenters for years. That said, it seems newsworthy that Oracle is going out of their way with some aggressive marketing directed at IBM to state clearly their plans to put more money than Sun does now into SPARC and Solaris." MySQL is not mentioned in this ad, perhaps because (as Matt Asay speculates) the EU is looking closely into that aspect of the proposed acquisition.
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Oracle To Increase Investment In SPARC and Solaris

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  • Larry Ellison would lie to his mother just for fun.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I still expect the sale of the ex-sun hardware business to HP to go through, now Oracle have puffed up the price a bit.

    • why would HP want it? They sold out their hardware folks for Intel's Itanium a long time ago... shut down Alpha, Vax, etc... it was gruesome.

      • by default luser ( 529332 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @03:24PM (#29392569) Journal

        why would HP want it? They sold out their hardware folks for Intel's Itanium a long time ago... shut down Alpha, Vax, etc... it was gruesome.

        Don't forget PA-RISC. Despite the fact that systems were still selling new in 2008, HP decided to follow-through and kill it off to make way for Itanium.

        It's just pathetic that nobody has the balls to compete with Intel in the RAS space. Now we've spent the last 10 years seeing every single new Itanium core delayed, underpowered and overpriced. Now with 3 years still waiting for Tukwila, I expect that trend to continue.

  • by musicmaster ( 237156 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:01AM (#29388819) Homepage

    The ad says that Oracle will aim for tight integration with its database. That might be less welcome news for those people who do not use it for Oracle databases.

    • They're throwing more money at it. That means they'll go away from their goals, meaning less integration with Oracle Software, meaning better SPARCs for all of us.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tyrr ( 306852 )

      People don't complain when Cisco, Juniper, etc integrate their routing/switching/firewall features with ASICs.
      Why should databases be different?
      Given the hardware prices and wide interest in FIPS-type security requirements, Oracle might as well be selling appliances. It will come to this sooner or later.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        ha, ha silly rabbits...

        AS400/iseries/system i... doing it for decades... laughing now.

        Although you could include Vax and HP's E-series mini-computers as well in the "enterprise appliance" category.

        The browser is the new "green screen".

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:05AM (#29388865)

    Sun is so cash-strapped that investment in Sparc is at low, almost nothing. So it is easy for Oracle to claim they will outspend what Sun does now....all the while looking for a hardware company on which to dump Sparc off. There are plenty of alternatives to UltraSparc based Sun servers, redundancy and SMP can be done more cost effectively

    • Yeah, may be the amount spent on this campaign covered it already ;-)

      • No comments about the European Union? THEY are the ones who will decide if Oracle and Sun merge, not us. It'll be interesting to see what happens if the EU says "no"

        • The EU seems to have a hardon over mysql... which is silly since it's open source and many key mysql developers had previously left Sun to work on their own Mysql offshoots. And there's still PostgreSQL and SQLite, and Firebird.

          EU should have even bigger shitfits if IBM were to buy them, so if the Oracle sale doesn't go through, I think a VC/Capital Management group would buy them hoping to make a profit by splitting them up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      SMP can be done more cost effectively

      Bullshit. Say what you want about Sun, but noone does SMP more cost-effectively than they.

    • by Ozric ( 30691 )

      Can you say Fujitsu.. ..

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:18AM (#29388981)
    If they didn't invest in SPARC/Solaris, all their potential customers would run - probably to the very competitors who are likely to buy that part of the business. However, by putting in a small amount of cash, they can appear to be keeping those lines alive, thereby making them worth selling. If they didn't, the brands would die within a year and the money spent on their valuation / acquisition, would have been wasted. So this way, a small amount gambled now could lead to a bigger payback when the business is sold off. Simples.
    • Who's buy SPARC these days? I don't know of anyone, and for similarly priced machines the X86/AMD boxes run circles around SPARC.

      And Solaris is completely independent from chip architecture. SPARC Solaris and X86 Solaris are essentially identical, except for the boot architecture. Pretty much the same for the OpenSolaris fork, which is where all the new features are going. (GA, commercial Solaris is essentially a back-port of OpenSolaris, featurewise.)

      In one of my old jobs we paid the premium for SPARC only

      • Anybody running Oracle E-business with more than a few hundred users will, and some just did, for whom I did a capacity plan. We did the sums: a large Sun/Fujitsu was significantly cheaper than a rack full of small boxes, all under-utilized except for the few that were overloaded already.

        If you're a small website actioning off things like eBay (;-)) you need the biggest box Sun (or IBM, or in principle H-P) makes to get enough horsepower to do the TP.

        Horses for courses


  • by Anonymous Coward

    I just heard on the grapevine that Sun is planning in dropping the Netra line of servers (NEBS compliant chassis for telecommunications deployments). Anyone know anything?

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:23AM (#29389019)

    Given how little money Sun had, and how many layoffs they were making and had in the works, for Oracle to invest "more" in Solaris/SPARC than Sun did alone wouldn't take much. What would be actually interesting would be information on the updated product roadmap, which is currently a bit sparse and extremely out of date.


    • by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:43AM (#29389225) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, but you gotta understand. Without Sun there's just IBM. There's no other vendor in the mainframe business, which is still big business. You don't think the IRS has time or money to manage the size of cluster they would need to operate effectively? So they rely on big iron, which is reliable and redundant and engineered to be that way over 40-50 years of experience. Clusters are garbage compared to a real mainframe. Sure, you have distributed filesystems now, and you can sort of split CPU around, there's management systems, etc, but all of this are ideas that come straight from the mainframe os which does all this "by itself". Google managed to make a pretty cool mainframe from commodity hardware but whatever.

      Now, if you're not going to go with IBM for your database, you're probably going to go Oracle. But if you need big iron to run this huge database, you're going to have to go with IBM with z/OS and linux virtual machines or something. Oracle now has viable, proven mainframe line and all they have to do is throw money at it. They'll just move to selling complete packages instead of just DB at the mainframe level. With all this "cloud" bullshit (eg "Mainframe on the internet"), big businesses are interested in managed services and Mainframes have always been vendor managed.

      Even IBM minis like AS/400 boxes come with full support from IBM. They monitor the box 24/7. I used to operate them long ago, and I remember that a disk went bad in one of our storage boxes (they had these giant enclosures with over 100 disks in them). Literally the message flashed on my console "SYS01281: DISK ERROR" blah blah blah and I turned around to get the binder to figure out what I had to do. By the time I turned back to my desk my phone was ringing and it was IBM support letting me know a tech would be there within 4 hours to replace the drive. Awesome.

      So like, Sun/Oracle can do the same thing, and they can compete if they play their cards right. Oracle has poached a lot of high-end people from IBM in the past so this was only a matter of time.

      Regarding MySql: MySql is a toy. Go to where the money is and you will find mainframes still. No one in their right mind would put anything important on MySql. Yeah yeah, facebook pft. If Facebook was making more than a few mil they would switch. Internet hits != money. (I'm talking Fortune 25 money, government money, world organization money, casino money, bank money). So I, for one, welcome Oracle and Sun back to this venue.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You seem to know what you're talking about, but do you live in an alternate universe where Fujitsu and HP don't exist?

        • by davecb ( 6526 ) *

          Fujitsu makes SPARCs (really good ones), and H-P is where another poster said "CPUs go to die".


      • Yay! Finally someone who doesn't just repeat the /. standard: "Sun sucks, use Linux on a giant pile of cheap boxen instead" line. I salute you, good sir.
        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by ArsonSmith ( 13997 )

          Ohh, that post wasn't a long pile of dripping sarcasm?

          sure sounded like it. Paraphrased post:

          "Mainframes are cool and old and big and fun, clusters are junk even though everyone is using them successfully and scaled out 100x farther than mainframe could ever get"

        • Linux runs on expensive highly available hardware too. Including real mainframes, which big Sun boxes aren't.

      • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @11:02AM (#29389463)
        This is pretty much spot on.

        Oracle did not buy Sun for Java, and they certainly didn't buy it because Sun is profitable. Oracle purchased Sun because Oracles business is Database Solutions, and Sun just happens to have hardware and software IP that can make Oracles position better in that market.

        Its really that simple. Oracle is not going to be throwing away Solaris, SPARC, or MySQL, because these are the very things that Oracle purchased Sun for.
        • If what you say is true, then why did Oracle expend so much effort trying to purchase just the software from Sun (prior to IBM getting involved) while the hardware went to HP?
      • What about HP? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @11:09AM (#29389543)

        HP's Itanic... whoops!... Itanium boxes are in the same league as Sun's SPARC boxes and IBM's POWER products, so without Sun, IBM would not exactly be standing unchallenged. (That said, the PA-RISC to Itanic transition in HP admittedly did not go well...)

        In addition, I would go so far as to say that Sun wasn't in the mainframe business either. They made really big UNIX boxes, but did not make mainframes. About the only other mainframe company that comes to mind is the Tandem (now HP) NonStop line of products. Unisys claims to make some, and there are a couple of other tiny players out there. But yeah, IBM pretty much had a mainframe monopoly before, and the still have one now.

      • you need to do a few search engine queries before making such a silly statement. Even if you wanted to call Sun's big boxes "mainframes", which they aren't, there are over half a dozen big unix-iron companies. And there are several mainframe companies (of which Sun is NOT one)

      • Sun doesn't really make mainframes and aren't competing with IBM in that market. The problem is that they made their money getting people to spend a lot on server hardware and support for workloads that can be easily run faster and cheaper on x86. 'We are the dot in dot com'? That market disappeared overnight for them as faster and cheaper x86 servers for web applications took hold snd overlapped with expensive SPARC machines.
      • Comparing System z9 and Sun's M9000. M9000 looks like a joke. Even HP systems aren't close enough. Both Sun's and HP's systems look like glorified Celeron servers, compared to System z.
        It's just incredible how much data z9 and z10 can crunch.
    • http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/11/sun_sparc_roadmap_revealed/ [theregister.co.uk]

      It's not pretty. Oracle would have a hard time putting less money in, as the only products that look halfway decent are so far out they are pretty much complete vapor.


  • And it seems that speculation has been common among Slashdot commenters for years.


  • Seems Oracle is willing to spend more on almost any domain except own employees salaries. Not a wise approach if you ask me.
    • by Desler ( 1608317 )
      Yeah because if its employees were so badly treated they would continue to stick around. *rolls eyes*
  • Oracle is going to need to do a better job with solaris than it did with Unbreakable Linux. If that's any indication what is in store for IBM, then Oracle is just focused on damage control via loud_mouth marketing campaigns. There was a lot of doubt with UL, and now Oracle not only hhas a new OS to manage, but a fairly large collection of high end hardware to peddle. They are not accustomed to so much responsibility. IBM is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0racle ( 667029 )
      You mean they fired all of Sun's employees?

      With so little overlap with OS and hardware as Oracle did next to nothing with an OS and no hardware at all, I doubt they got rid of many, if any, of those in Sun that are accustomed to managing and selling high end hardware and software. On top of that, Oracle knows how to sell very expensive bits.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Markus_UW ( 892365 )
      Sun and Oracle already work pretty closely with eachother, and I think, without Sun's inept executives (ie. Jonathan Schwartz) bogging them down, Oracle will be able to go far with Sun's excellent employees, who ARE used to that kind of responisbility.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:32AM (#29389115)

    MySQL is not mentioned in this ad, perhaps because (as Matt Asay speculates) the EU is looking closely into that aspect of the proposed acquisition.

    Would promising to maintain or increase the investment into MySQL actually smooth things over with the EU?... If I were an Oracle exec, I would strongly encourage support for MySQL as a way to keep people away from PostgreSQL. Articles like this [cnet.com] show that PostgreSQL has a lot more potential to win over Oracle customers than MySQL does.

    • by davecb ( 6526 ) *

      The MySQL issue looks like a red herring to me, although I suspect it's a wonderful source of FUD for anyone who wants to delay the deal.

      The Wall Street Journal actually noticed the elephant in the room: MySQL is free software, and can't be shut down by an evil monopolist (like one we all know and love).

      They seem to think the EC wants a (symbolic?) divestment .. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204731804574390512306888466.html?mod=googlenews_wsj [wsj.com]

      As for me, I want the deal to go through so

      • Interview I read the other day with "monty" (I think that's his name) indicated 2 points:
        1) Corp customers in EU switching from Oracle to MySQL are/have switched to a version that is not open source. It's not the same animal as the open source MySQL.

        2) As evidence of it not being a red herring the EU offered to drop their investigation if oracle would divest of MySQL, but Oracle won't do that.
        • by davecb ( 6526 ) *

          The first is trivially true: If I've been using Oracle, I probably want a service contract, and would buy the "enterprise" MySQL.

          Monty's second point is puzzling: he seems to have information the the EC normally keeps very close to their chest.

          Monty Program AB has certainly recommended divestment, but since they're doing the current fork I'd have to lump a flat claim that Oracle has refused to divest in with the rest of the lobbying by Oracle competitors including SAP AG and Microsoft Corp as possible F

      • MySQL is free software, and can't be shut down by an evil monopolist
        Semi-true, mysql is GPL and it's client libraries are also GPL, according to conservative interpretations of the GPL that means any software that is non-GPL and wants to use mysql needs to either buy a commercial license or get special dispensation (sometimes given out for non-gpl free software, e.g. php)

        Noone except the copyright holder can sell those commercial licenses and offer those dispensations and without the ability to do that I su

    • Yeah, and should we mention the news piece that said that IBM was licensing the Oracle compatibility from EnterpriseDB.
      Oracle just bought a company that not only owns MySQL, but is also heavily invested in PostgreSQL. Sun has a bunch of people working on PostgreSQL.
  • I want to see a workstation/small server based on the "cool threads" multi-core chips. The servers are nice, but with their rack-mount-only designs, they're either unreasonably expensive or loud (or both). Especially now that VMs are catching on like wildfire, I'd like to be able to throw a ton of RAM and HDD at a single box and have a bunch of zones and VM'd OSs running all at once. Of course, it'd have to have SLI or Crossfire...and allow big graphics to back up that multi-core/multi-threading.
  • by paulsnx2 ( 453081 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:44AM (#29389235)

    .... Their threaded design provides more threads and cores per Watt than other processors, and designs under development is pushing the further in that direction. And at this point, I am not aware of any Linux distribution that supports Niagara (though there may very well be one).

    Databases do not benefit as much by fast single thread execution as they do by very reasonable multi-thread execution. That is because in a database application, or Web application, you want to support many sessions.

    And as power and heat become issues in large server farms (mostly running database and web applications), the Niagara line is attractive.... The problem hasn't really been Sun's technology, but Sun's marketing and unfocused management. Larry might be a jerk, but he does know how to focus on making money.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Markus_UW ( 892365 )
      Plus, by making the Oracle licensing scheme slightly more favourable towards sparc than power or intel, they can mess with IBM/other competitors pretty well. Before anyone complains about the immorality of such moves, I would like to point out that this is Oracle we're talking about, and they already do this when they're mad at Sun/HP/IBM...
    • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @12:15PM (#29390339)

      Databases do not benefit as much by fast single thread execution as they do by very reasonable multi-thread execution. That is because in a database application, or Web application, you want to support many sessions.

      Not really true, and it's why most people haven't bought into Niagara despite any benchmarks Sun might come up with. The problem is that Niagara doesn't have the single threaded performance to start with. Rock was what was necessary, but that seems to be stillborne. For Niagara to work for you you have to have a lot of extremely lightweight threads that don't depend on each other and can run completely in parallel. You won't find many workloads like that these days, even with databases, because everyone has ever larger single jobs for specific tasks that they want to run faster and faster as well as potentially large stored procedures to mangle through. No one wants to find out that their hardware platform is OK for a specific workload and then as soon as you throw it something different it nosedives.

      • For Niagara to work for you you have to have a lot of extremely lightweight threads that don't depend on each other and can run completely in parallel. You won't find many workloads like that these days

        I agree with you that database applications do often depend on single threaded performance, but the halo of application servers surrounding them fit the bill nicely.

    • Forgot to add:

      And as power and heat become issues in large server farms (mostly running database and web applications), the Niagara line is attractive....

      Yes they are concerns, but people aren't going to go for that at the expense of potentially less performance, unless they plan their workloads very, very, very carefully. Few will. I've heard of some organisations who've went for these machines as J2EE or database machines who've had to allocate a lot more hardware than they planned which doesn't match up

    • There are all sorts of database applications that depend on a single CPU to run really fast. The sort of big reports people usually run overnight are an example. Niagara systems fail to work well if you any such requirement in your app, single threaded apps are way too slow to compared to Intel/AMD solutions. Niagara hardware is decent for applications that always have lots of users going at once, but they're only good for that, and that limits the market you can sell them into. It's certainly not the c

  • I really hope this means they are going to pursue Rock aggressively. Knockin' on wood over here...

    • Rock is dead and won't be revived. Performance was tied to the thread hardware scout which simply did not end up working out like they thought it might.
  • I would like to see Sun's storage technology emphasized. They have some good products, and good ideas. A little refinement would go a long way. It has been apparent to me for several years that storage is ripe for commoditization, all it is is disks, memory, and fibre channel ports. Whoever can deliver the I/O, reliability, and features without the huge cost of the incumbent enterprise storage vendors should do quite well.
  • From TFA

    but I've yet to hear MySQL's customer base, which skews toward the technology-savvy Web crowd, fretting about Oracle's impact on MySQL's business.

    Could this be a non-issue due to that they can just fall back on Monty's MariaDB [askmonty.org]? ( community developed, stable, and always Free branch of MySQL )

  • Openoffice? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lotho brandybuck ( 720697 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @11:37AM (#29389819) Homepage Journal
    My biggest concern is what happens with OpenOffice?

    As a Linux-on-desktop user, I am dependent on it. It is a critical ap for me.

    OpenOffice could finally break the hegemony of MS Office, if it's not screwed up. I know a few people who are now using it on Windows, by choice, not necessity. But if it's screwed up, it's over.

    I hope Ellison sees this as his chance to really stick it to Microsoft. I hope he retains and rewards the existing development team, and starts cleaning and optimizing the existing code base, and if needed dedicates additional manpower and resources. I hope Oracle's capable of doing this without screwing it up.

  • by NSIM ( 953498 ) on Friday September 11, 2009 @11:37AM (#29389835)
    Heavy R&D spending, plus double the number of sales and support engineers is a lot of additional spending unless they can seriously eat into IBM and/or HP's UNIX business, I'll believe it when I see it.
    • Heavy R&D spending, plus double the number of sales and support engineers is a lot of additional spending unless they can seriously eat into IBM and/or HP's UNIX business, I'll believe it when I see it.

      Maxed-out Oracle shops are going to have to switch to SPARC to get the performance they need. That sounds like a revenue stream to me.

      • by NSIM ( 953498 )
        That pre-supposes that Sun/Oracle will be their only choice, and that there is a significant untapped market for Sun.

        I have my doubts on both scores.

        • There are installations where Oracle just doesn't scale any better than it does now, except with faster hardware (I've read Amazon has these problems). No doubt those people will want to do more over the next several years, and with very tight tuning of code to hardware they should get a good boost.

          Switching to DB2 or Hadoop is a much harder problem than upgrading servers. If somebody can get Oracle to run faster on their hardware than Oracle can on theirs, I bet Oracle will buy them too (not that I suspe

  • There is this thing called targeted advertising. One makes an ad targeted to a specific demographic. This ad is targeted specifically at companies using Sun hardware and Solaris.

    It does not mention MySql because the ad is not targeted at MySQL users. Granted, the set of "Sun hardware and Solaris users" and the set of "MySQL" users can and probably do overlap, but that is beside the point.

    Remember, lack of evidence for something (no mention of MySQL in that ad) is not evidence against said thing nor is it ev

  • While its hopeful now that they have stated plans to keep investing time and money, will SPARC and Solaris remain open, or is the plan to close them off? ( if they do, who cares of they invest...)

  • This will give
    1) Power 7 a run for the money on performance (and will kill every other microarchitecture incl all other x86)
    2) Out-RAS SPARC and scale much more flexibly
    3) Be available from dozens of vendors including everybody named on this page
    4) Run Linux, Solaris, Windows, MacOS, BSD and probably others
    5) Be the least expensive 'big iron' architecture available
    If I was Oracle, I'd be planning my strategy around this, but I'd certainly not Osborne my SPARC sales by saying so until I'm ready to pull the

    • I generally agree. The writing is and has been on the wall since intel got their act together:
      1) intel is winning due to volume and execution
      2) there is room for other players in other niches (large=IBM Power, small=ARM, etc.)

      The advantage Power7 will still have over intel cpu's is that they are designed for large scale SMP, intel will still not be able to touch Power7 in 32 and 64 proc systems.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle