Oracle Takes Aim At Hardware Competitors With Channel-Ready Database Appliance

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Oracle on Wednesdady unveiled a turnkey database appliance -- its first appliance product offering -- in a bid to boost sales of the company's flagship database software and Sun Microsystems hardware to SMBs.

The new Oracle Database Appliance bundles Oracle Database 11g Release 2 (Enterprise Edition) software with Real Application Clusters technology and other Oracle software on a two-node, Intel-based Sun Fire server running Oracle Linux.

"We think this is going to be a huge hit with our reseller partners and ISV partners," said Judson Althoff, Oracle senior vice president of worldwide alliances and channels and embedded sales, in a phone interview with CRN. "There's no question this is the single biggest product launch we've done for the channel."

While the Oracle Database Appliance is a high-performance system with a starting pricetag just below $100,000, Althoff said it's designed for "the volume market" for companies with as few as 50 to 100 seats.

Althoff expected up to 90 percent of the product's sales to be through channel partners who can provide needed services and support, although Oracle also will offer the database appliance through its direct telemarketing operation.

"It's really the first of its kind that targets this end of the market," he said, describing it as an "engineered system" -- Oracle terminology for vertically integrated systems that combine Oracle software with Sun server technology. Althoff said the new appliance is positioned below the Oracle Exadata Database Machine, the company's high-end database server.

Channel partners see a range of market opportunities for the product. "This performs better than any rack cluster any customer has now," said John Ezzell, co-founder and executive vice-president of BIAS Corp., an Atlanta-based Oracle Platinum partner. Many customers today run database systems made up of "bolted together" hardware, database and storage technologies from multiple vendors. The Oracle Database Appliance "gives you a way to have everything contained in one box," Ezzell said.

The Pythian Group, an Ottawa, Ont.-based Oracle Platinum partner, provides consulting, implementation and systems administration services, particularly around high-end Oracle products such as Exadata and the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud server. While Pythian is an authorized Oracle reseller, that hasn't been a top focus for the solution provider, said CTO Alex Gorbachev, given that sales cycles for Exadata and Exalogic are so long.

The Oracle Database Appliance could change that. "This database appliance is a very entry-level system," Gorbachev said. Because the new product can be sold at the departmental level, rather than require "C-level" executive approval, Pythian might increase its resell efforts.

Ever since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in January 2010 it has urged partners to sell more combined hardware-software systems to compete against hardware rivals such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard. And the Oracle Database Appliance could boost those efforts. "We feel this is going to put a lot of energy into our efforts to combine our hardware and software channels," Althoff said.


Next: The Threat To Hardware Competitors

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