Sectors - Sun alumni angry, EMC happy about VMware, NetApp arguing about dedupe numbers

Our weekly trawl of the storage blogosphere finds the usual fighting, plus a fair bit of anger towards Sun’s management team and relief among those already fired by Sun – they’ll get bigger payouts than those fired under the Oracle regime.


Sectors is taking a slightly different approach this we digest the Oracle/Sun situation.

We’re doing so because a former Sun employee now working in the storage practice of a system integrator shared this opinion with us:

“When I quit Sun in 2005, I estimated that the company could survive for between 3 and 5 years, and that I had about 3 years in which to broaden my skill set if I wanted to stay employable. It's sad to be proved right, but I'm glad I got out when I did. Conversation among my colleagues yesterday was speculative about what Oracle will do with its acquisition. There is the inevitable morbid fascination with the whole sad mess, and everyone expects big layoffs. I feel sorry for all the local Sun folk who got laid off last week, but at least they got good severance payouts: Oracle is reputed to be much less generous. Traffic on the various Sun and Sun Alumni lists is quite vitriolic in tone. I wouldn't care to be in Jonathan Schwartz's shoes: many, many people hold him personally responsible for the destruction of a company that they really loved.

As for sales going forward, I don't anticipate any short term change: any customer with a large Sun deployment is going to take years to change direction, and because the existing support and maintenance contracts will be honoured, customers can take a wait and see approach. Until Oracle management declares their intentions, speculation is futile (but will undoubtedly fill many column-inches, nonetheless).”

Storage blogger and consultant Stephen Foskett also shared some insights with us:

“I think the deal is really smart, after reflecting for a few days. I was surprised like most folks (including Ballmer, apparently) but on reflection it makes sense: The OS platform world is shifting, and Oracle risked getting left without a chair when the music stopped.

You've got Microsoft's all-MS solution, rising use of MySQL and Linux (LAMP, anyone?), and Oracle's avowed non-interest in virtualized servers. So Solaris was the most logical major OS platform for Oracle to build on. Sure, they can still work with Linux and Windows and the rest, but Solaris is the most sensible choice. I imagine Oracle will continue the open source Solaris development, and hopefully will adopt the GPL and integrate more Linux technologies. Perhaps Solaris and Linux could merge at some far off point in the future!

Plus, Oracle can now build on MySQL (a la EMC with CLARiiON and Iomega) rather than fighting with it. I was concerned at first, but think Oracle will work to make MySQL a solid entry-level and free software choice in hopes of keeping SQL Server and PostgreSQL and the rest at bay. For the database space, Oracle now has much more solid footing. In fact, I imagine Oracle will move quickly to package a Windows version of MySQL to undercut Microsoft sales of SQL Server.

I doubt Oracle will do much for the hardware, however. They've always shown interest in hardware, but have never executed on that. Perhaps they'll let it wither, perhaps they'll sell it off. I just can't imagine Oracle fighting with Dell, HP, and IBM for server market share. I also can't imagine they'll do much to continue Sun's free storage efforts or the nascent effort to enter the network router space to combat Cisco. My hope is that they'll GPL all of the already open source storage stuff and let the Linux crowd have it! This would be an excellent outcome indeed! I'll be sad to see the great Sun server hardware go, but why would Oracle keep it?

The merger will hit parts of Sun hard, though. I don't see the tape or STK/HDS storage business lasting. And there will be massive changes to the sales and service organizations, with the best folks kept and the rest RIFfed. I do hope they can keep Sun's strongest folks onboard, since there are many of them, so Oracle should make this a top priority. They've done well in the past on this front, which gives me hope.”

Also on Oracle/Sun, analyst Steve Duplessie wonders if Oracle has more acquisitions up its sleeve to improve its storage position. Storagebod points out that NetApp currently uses Oracle in its advertising, a situation that probably needs to change given the Sun vs. NetApp lawsuit over ZFS.

The week’s other big storage topic is VMware’s new vSphere 4, which sees the software company take over thin provisioning for virtual arrays, making hardware vendors’ provisioning kit kind of redundant.

EMC’s indefatigable Chuck Hollis is of course bullish about the announcement. And then he sinks the slipper into HP’s response to Cisco’s servers. This gets us thinking that rumours we have reported in the past are tosh. EMC and Cisco are clearly very tight on this stuff. Virtual Geek also likes the announcement, but The Storage Architect thinks independent HBA vendors might be in for tough times.

David Chappell has a more interesting take, categorising “Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).” We attended vmWare’s local launch and the company was definitely trying to say that the Amazon/Google approach to cloud computing was a dud, as a proprietary platform leads to lock in and all the usual bad stuff.

NetApp, meanwhile, is being whiney about EMC’s deduplication claims, but isn’t wafting at Sun/Oracle or vSphere yet.

StorageMojo has more on the DAS resurgence, a trend we think could accelerate as these SSD SANS on a PCI card get more traction.



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