EMC's Tucci: Oracle-Sun Combo Raises The Stakes

Tucci, EMC's chairman, president and CEO, made his remarks on Thursday in response to an analyst's question late in the conference call following his company's first-quarter 2009 financial report.

Oracle said on Monday that it plans to acquire Sun for $7.4 billion. The move would give Oracle, which traditionally has exclusively competed in the software market, a significant presence in the hardware business, including a storage line that competes in many ways with vendors such as EMC.

Tucci, in his longest answer to any analyst's question during the conference call, said the IT market has always been characterized by "coopetition," and that a significant number of Oracle's business customers rely on EMC storage.

"Oracle's going to continue to work with us as an important partner, and we're going to continue to work with them," he said. "That's clear. That commitment is there both ways."

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Oracle, like some other vendors, is building a vertical stack, including hardware, operating system and applications, and would obviously like customers to use more and more of that stack, Tucci said.

"The problem that gives CIOs and IT professionals is that each of these stacks looks different, is managed different, has different processes and procedures," he said.

EMC, too, is building a stack, but one that is horizontal, by which Tucci meant a stack that stretches across multiple platforms.

"So if you look at our storage, it supports the Oracle stack, it supports the Microsoft stack, the IBM stack, etc.," he said. "If you look at VMware, for instance, it's the same thing. If you look at our security, it's the same thing. We're building the stack horizontally, and that has a lot of appeal."

Tucci said there is a battle brewing between the various providers of vertical and horizontal stacks about how to manage infrastructures, a battle which he said will eventually be won by the horizontal stack camp.

EMC is continuing to build its horizontal stack. Tucci said his company is supporting VMware's new vSphere virtualization technology to help customers build internal, external and hybrid compute clouds. EMC last week also unveiled its new Virtual Matrix (V-Max) array, which scales to thousands of processors and thousands of petabytes of capacity.

"If the customer chooses the (Oracle) way, Oracle will continue to work with us," he said. "They'll push their way, we'll push our way, and that's the way it's been for a while. Oracle will obviously raise the stakes in that game, and obviously, as we hit vSphere and V-Max, we're raising the stakes in the game too. I'm not saying business is exactly as usual, but it's the same battle that we've been fighting for a while."