Oracle's rhetoric about its commitment to Sun's hardware business just went up a couple of notches as CEO Larry Ellison went all guns blazing against IBM at this year's Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The timing of this new-found enthusiasm for hardware may be questionable but the software giant is trying hard to drive home the point that Oracle software running on Sun hardware is the solution the IT world has been waiting for and the company now has the benchmarks to prove it.
Several months ago Oracle announced it would acquire the ailing Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion. The deal moved ahead, getting the approval of Sun's shareholders, but as expected raised the attention of regulatory bodies across both sides of the Atlantic. In the meantime, uncertainty about plans for Sun's hardware business and lack of any kind of commitment from Oracle drove off many potential customers and pushed sales into the ground.
The deal finally got the go-ahead from the US Department of Justice but the European Union's Competition Commission extended its inquiry well into the next year. With the deal in approval limbo sales continued to plummet prompting Oracle to finally take a stand and assure everyone that it was very much behind the hardware arm and, in fact, it was all part of a great plan to take on IBM in all markets offering an integrated software plus hardware package.
While the timing of the move was more than just coincidental, Oracle now seems determined to convince anyone that Sun hardware is very important to Oracle's overall strategy. At the conference in San Francisco Ellison went on to make some rather bold claims, saying IBM servers used up a lot more power than they should and that Oracle software running on considerably less Sun servers was able to greatly outperform the competition in a benchmark presented at the conference.
Oracle claims it used eight times less hardware than IBM for the test and that the configuration used four times less energy than a similar one from IBM. As with any benchmark produced by a manufacturer, the results have to be taken with a rather large grain of salt but it does show just how much Oracle is worried about the business Sun hardware is losing at the moment, which adds up to $100 million by some accounts.