McNealy: Sun still shines for Oracle

Despite Oracle’s strategic push for Linux- and Intel-based deployments, Sun is still the company's leading platform

Despite Oracle’s strategic push for Linux- and Intel-based deployments, Sun is still the company's leading platform, according to Sun chairman and chief executive Scott McNealy.

Speaking yesterday at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, McNealy touted Sun offerings, including its AMD and Sparc hardware and Solaris OS, as the platforms that IT shops should choose. He stressed that Sun was a major generator of open-source technologies rather than an alternative to open source.

According to McNealy, Sun plans to maintain its position as the leading platform for Oracle deployments. "You won't see us back off from that relationship. We’re going to invest like crazy in that relationship, no matter much Larry [Ellison, Oracle chief executive] says 'grid' or 'Intel' or 'Red Hat' or 'Dell'."

McNealy disagreed that computers had become commodity systems. "Understand that computing is not a commodity and really see that there is value to be added," he said.

Stressing Sun’s commitment to openness and open source, McNealy said that Sun published all its interfaces and that the Sparc architecture itself was available via open source.

"We were kind of the Red Hat of Berkeley Unix back in 1982 and fundamentally drove commercialisation of that open-source software," said McNealy, adding that Sun was doing open source before Linux founder Linus Torvalds "was out of diapers".

Sun will also be providing Solaris via open source in early 2005. "It would be like Oracle open-sourcing the database," McNealy quipped.

"We just announced a couple of weeks ago Solaris 10 - the best enterprise OS on the planet. We put things in like dynamic tracing that nobody else has."

But one Oracle user at the conference stressed his company’s intention to move off Sun systems in favour of more Linux. "Sun is expensive," said Norm Fjeldheim, senior vice-president and chief information officer at chipmaker Qualcomm. "It’s not as flexible an environment as we’d like to have. We’d like to get to Linux."

But Fjeldheim did endorse Java.

McNealy also touted Sun’s plans for product pricing, such as its annual per-employee fee for the Java Enterprise System. "We’re going to come out with many different calling plans to deal with the different workloads you have," he said.

Noting Oracle’s push toward grid computing, McNealy cited the demonstration in Japan last year of a 128-way grid based on Solaris and Oracle.

Oracle executive vice-president Chuck Rozwat also stressed Sun was partnering Oracle in grid technology, although Sun was not involved in this week’s announcement of Project MegaGrid, a grid initiative between Oracle, Dell, EMC and Intel.

"We’ve got great partnerships, and each partnership is a little different," Rozwat said. He went on to applaud Sun’s adoption of AMD chips and Linux as making Sun a better partner for Oracle.

McNealy also reminded the conference that Sun and Microsoft were working on integrating their technologies, citing products such as StarOffice and Office, Solaris x86 and Windows XP. "I wish I could report to you that all this will be open-sourced and published, but a lot of it will be unique and proprietary," he said.

Also at the conference yesterday, McNealy said:

  • Sun’s recent handshake with Microsoft was more like two boxers shaking hands before a fight just prior to beating each other up. He compared his recent meetings with Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer to Ellison’s alliance with Dell chairman Michael Dell. "Larry, you hang out with Michael. I’ll hang out with Steve." Like Sun, Oracle has been a fervent opponent of Microsoft.
  • That Sun and Ellison had been on the right track in promoting thin clients. Sun is working with Lucent to define a reference architecture to deliver VoIP on thin clients.
  • The recent security issue in the Java Run-Time Environment and SDK did not reflect poorly on Java’s security compared with Windows. "It’s not a virus, if you will. It’s an implementation issue. It’s interesting that the Java issue is news."
  • The Java Community Process was an innovation in technology licensing. "The JCP has probably been the most underestimated, stunning innovation that Sun has ever delivered. It’s done better than GPL."

Paul Krill writes for InfoWorld

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