Sun Customers have nothing to fear from Oracle says McNealy

Sun chairman Scott McNealy opened the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco with a rallying cry to his customers that there was nothing to fear from...

Sun chairman Scott McNealy opened the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco with a rallying cry to his customers that there was nothing to fear from the prospect of being owned by Oracle.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison acknowledged during the opening keynote that there were concerns being voiced by both customers and rivals that Oracle might dump the MySQL open source database and Sun's hardware business while failing to invest in Solaris, concerns that he dismissed as propoganda by rivals such as IBM.

But it was to McNealy that he turned to provide the reassurance that Sun customers wanted to hear and on that front McNealy delivered what was expected of him. "Larry is going to have a lot of fun with his new toy," he predicted. The two firms had worked together for decades he noted and Oracle was a highly suitable custodian for Sun's legacy. He argued that he could see no reason why Oracle would want to ditch MySQL as "It doesn't compete with Oracle; it competes with Microsoft."

McNealy sees the takeover as a next step for Sun. "You look at the core technologies that we're developing: they're going to find a nice home in this next chapter," he declared. "We are all about innovation. Technology has the shelf life of a banana. We did that with a lot of great people and a lot of investment. The interesting component of that is thinking about putting Oracle's R&D operation in with our R&D bucket and you have one of the biggest R&D operations of all time."

As for the future of Java in Oracle's hands, McNealy brought on reinforcements in the shape of James Gosling, the so called 'father of Java' who added: "I'm not really worried about Oracle for anything." That said, he did stray off message to suggest that the scale of the Java developer network was causing some nervousness at Oracle. "They clearly have been unprepared for the volume of the Java developer programme" he suggested. " Look at their developer programme and look at ours and we have an extra couple of digits. They're getting their heads around it now. Sometimes they look a bit scared, but they're getting there."

For his part, Oracle CEO Ellison was not ready to tolerate any dissent about his intentions, especially when it came in the form of negative marketing pitches by IBM. "As soon as we announced the merger, IBM went to customers and said 'Oracle will get out of hardware and not invest in Solaris. Can you cope with this level of uncertainty?'," he said. "We are not selling any part of the hardware business. We intend to invest in Sparc. We are going to invest in it. We think Sparc is a fantastic technology. With a little more investment, it could be even better.

"Solaris is unquestionably the number one operating system in the world. It is the leading operating system running with the Oracle database. We are working with Sun to make all the Oracle software run faster and more reliably on Solaris than anywhere else. As for MySQL, it operates in a differenet market. We are going to increase Sun's investment in MySQL - we will spend more, not less. It's a fantastic piece of technology."

But it's clear that the Sun takeover will see an escalation of rivalry between Oracle and IBM, a fight that Ellison seems to relish. "We're looking forward to competing with IBM in the systems business and we think the combination of Sun and Oracle well-equipped to compete successfully against the giant," he said.

Putting his money where his mouth is, he pledged to give $10 million to any CIO or company whose existing database would not run at least twice as fast on Sun hardware as it did on IBM kit. This is set to be a recurring theme folllowing the imposition of a $10,000 fine that Oracle got for running a recent ad comparing Sun and Oracle to IBM, in which the benchmark evidence had not yet been documented.

Oracle''s intention to buy Sun for $7.4bn (£5.1bn) was announced in April, but still has to be approved by the European Commission. The US Department of Justice approved Oracle's proposed acquisition of Sun in August, following the backing by Sun stockholders in July.

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