Oracle Details Support, Integration Plans For Sun Software

Oracle wants to be like IBM -- the IBM of the 1960s.

A series of Oracle executives took turns Wednesday outlining the company's plans for integrating Sun Microsystems' hardware and software with Oracle's own products. And several pointed to IBM circa 1965, which provided customers with tightly integrated hardware-software systems, as the model Oracle plans to follow as it combines Oracle and Sun technologies into similar offerings following the completion of Oracle's $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun.

"We want to recreate that IBM of the 1960s, but on an open standards platform," said Oracle president Charles Phillips. "The bottom line is, we want to change and improve the way people buy [IT] systems, the way they run them and the way they manage them. Complete systems, not just a series of components."

Executive after executive referred to slides showing a complete technology "stack" with servers, storage, operating system, virtualization, database, middleware and application software products with Sun hardware and software largely making up the lower layers and Oracle software the upper layers.

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"We've had a lot of time to plan, we have a lot of detail," Phillips said, noting that more than nine months had passed between April 2009 when Oracle announced the Sun deal and today. "We're not just hitting the ground running, we've been running for quite a while."

Phillips said Oracle would retain the Sun brand on that company's products. "We're not only going to keep the Sun brand name, we're going to re-invigorate it," he said.

To ward off speculation that Oracle might discontinue some Sun products, Oracle has repeatedly said it intends to invest heavily in continued development of Sun's Sparc microprocessors, Java development technology and Solaris operating system, among others. Phillips said Oracle would spend $4.3 billion on research and development in fiscal 2011 (which begins June 1, 2010), a big increase from the $2.8 billion in spent in fiscal 2009.

The majority of the presentations at Wednesday's event offered details about how Sun hardware will be integrated with Oracle products and how the two vendors' software lines will be consolidated.

Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of Oracle server technologies development, outlined Oracle's roadmap for ongoing development of Sun's software products and plans to integrate them with Oracle software.

In a number of cases Oracle will continue to enhance and support Sun software, as it has with products from earlier acquisitions, but will designate Oracle's software as the company's "strategic product."

Oracle's WebLogic application server, for example, will remain the company's flagship application server. But Kurian said Oracle would continue to support Sun's GlassFish application server and even share technology between the two products. The Oracle SOA Suite will likewise be the company's lead product while support for Sun's Java Composite Application Platform Suite (Java CAPS) will continue. And the Oracle WebCenter Suite portal platform will take the lead over Sun's GlassFish Web Space Server.

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In some cases the Sun technology wins out. While the Oracle Identity Management Suite will become the company's lead product, with continued support for the Sun Identity Manager, Kurian said Sun's Role Manager software would become Oracle's key technology for identity analytics.

Oracle will develop interoperability links between the Oracle Enterprise Manager systems management suite and the Sun Ops Center, with the two eventually merging into a single product, Kurian said.

Calling Sun's Java development technology one of "the crown jewels" of the acquisition, Kurian said Oracle would continue to "extend and enhance" the Java programming model, including simplifying Java runtime platforms for a variety of deployment environments.

Kurian also vowed to continue development of Sun's Solaris Unix-based operating system along with Oracle's version of Linux.

Oracle's JDeveloper will remain the vendor's key Java development platform with Sun's NetBeans taking the role of a lightweight Java development environment, according to Kurian.

Oracle executives also provided a peek at development plans for MySQL, the open-source database that led the European Commission to hold up the Sun acquisition for months for fear that owning it would make Oracle too powerful in the database market. Edward Screven, chief corporate architect, said Oracle would improve MySQL by developing links to Enterprise Manager and Audit Vault, among other steps.

Aside from technology blueprints, Oracle execs also outlined plans to consolidate supply chains from Oracle and Sun suppliers and make the combined company more cost efficient.

Less clear was just how many jobs at Sun will be lost while the company's operations are consolidated. Ellison criticized press and analyst reports suggesting that as much as 50 percent of the Sun workforce would be laid off. "That's a very irresponsible thing to make up and print," he said.

While a spokesperson said Oracle has released no details about potential job cuts, Ellison said Oracle plans to hire about 2,000 new employees to bolster Sun's operations, which he said was "about twice as many" as are likely to be laid off.

Phillips provided a moment of levity early in the Oracle event when he referred to news that he had an 8½-year extramarital affair with a woman who posted billboards in several cities last week calling attention to their relationship. "Hopefully, you've had a better week than I've had," Phillips said with some chagrin.