New Dell-Oracle Alliance To Bring Engineered Systems To Dell Customers, Partners

Oracle President Mark Hurd unveils new Dell-Oracle alliance.

Dell on Tuesday surprised solution providers by unveiling a new relationship with Oracle that the companies said will bring Oracle's business-critical software to market on Dell's x86 server platform.

Under the new worldwide alliance, which was officially rolled out during the opening keynotes at the Dell Enterprise Forum, Dell was named a preferred x86 server partner by Oracle, while Oracle is now a preferred enterprise infrastructure partner of Dell.

Oracle President Mark Hurd unveiled the partnership in a video presentation during which he said that his company will work with Dell to deliver integrated hardware and software solutions, with software optimized to run on Dell's x86-based servers.

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One Dell solution provider who requested anonymity said, "The last thing I ever expected at this event was to see Mark Hurd's face."

While Hurd did not say the Dell-Oracle solutions would be equivalent to Oracle engineered systems, which are appliance-like offerings in which Oracle server and storage technology is sold as a complete solution integrated with specific Oracle applications.

However, he did reference Oracle engineered systems when he said that Oracle does all the hard work related to integration.

The new Dell-Oracle alliance is a way to expand the business for both companies, Hurd said in the video.

"It enables customers to get business-critical solutions on x86 architecture. ... Customers get integrated solutions from Dell, backed up by support from Oracle," he said.

Left unsaid by both Dell and Oracle executives is the close ties that Oracle had in the past with Hewlett-Packard. HP, Dell's arch-rival in the x86 server business, was at one time Oracle's biggest hardware partner, and the two had a very profitable relationship.

However, a dispute between the former partners resulted in a series of lawsuits stemming from Oracle's decision to suspend all software development on the Intel Itanium microprocessor, citing what it called indications from Intel management that it is focusing on the x86 processor line and that Itanium was nearing the end of its life.

Marius Haas, president of enterprise solutions for Dell, also said the partnership will result in an expanded customer base for both his company and Oracle.

"We're bringing together engineered systems that bring great value to customers. ... We're going to both aggressively bring great solutions to you, the customer."

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Cliff Gumkowski, Dell's global commercial channels executive director, said in response to a solution provider's question about how the new Dell-Oracle partnership would impact them, that Dell is in the process of designing the relationship into the channel.

"This is hot off-the-press news," Gumkowski said. "We're working with Marius [Haas'] team on this."

The new Dell-Oracle relationship is great news for Sanplicity, said Daniel Morgan, owner of the Bakersfield, Calif.-based solution provider and Dell partner.

"We're not an Oracle shop," Morgan said. "But we have a lot of Oracle customers. Customers hesitate to buy a solution that Oracle doesn't support, and Oracle in the past did not support Dell. So there was no way for us to crack that egg before this."

Paul Clifford, president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and Dell partner, said his company does not have an Oracle relationship, but it does have customers that utilize Oracle software.

Clifford is not sure how much impact the Dell-Oracle relationship will have on the channel. "But Dell people don't have a lot of time on their hands," he said. "They're not building partnerships for partnership's sake."

Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider and Dell partner, said it is interesting to see Oracle enter into a server relationship with Dell when Oracle is pushing its own server line.

"There has recently been a lot of growth in Dell's server business," Winslow said. "Oracle is probably interested in that."