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Oracle stares into Sun for storage future

Just what is Oracle's business now?

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The Sun cloud storage effort, such as it is, may be developed as part of an over-arching Oracle cloud storage strategy.

Oracle, with Sun storage, is now a competitor to EMC. That might cause fireworks, especially if Oracle heads cloud-wards with vigour.

If Oracle will be a general supplier

If Oracle decides it is in the general server HW and storage HW supply business, as well as the soup to nuts, disk to app, integrated HW/SW business, then its job of optimising the two businesses, database plus app SW on the one hand and Sun's product tool box on the other, will be much, much more difficult. If it decides that this is indeed where it's at, then on the storage side it needs to look at replication, thin provisioning, working with VMware and Hyper-V, deduplication and all the other storage technologies in deployment and build out.

Actually, Oracle is already in the general storage supply business, but at arm's length, via Larry Ellison's funding of Pillar Data. There is now the tantalising prospect of that company being bought closer to Oracle's own storage hardware business.

Maybe Pillar CEO Mike Workman could even be asked to run the whole Sun storage show. That would be a shock for John Fowler, the current boss of Sun's systems business. On the other hand, Mike W. would get on well with Jon Benson, the long-lived StorageTek executive who reports to Fowler and runs Sun's StorageTek (Tape and non-hybrid server/storage drive arrays) business.

Potential toast rack

If Oracle confines itself to the integrated disk to Oracle app business, then whole swathes of Sun's product range are toast. However, whichever strategy Oracle decides upon, general server/storage supplier or integrated Oracle stack supplier, the logical outcome of the open storage strategy is that the proprietary arrays are history.

Much more detail will come out in the following weeks, as Oracle understands in more depth what it is buying and what it can do with it. It's going to be very interesting to see what it discards from its newly-acquired line-up, what it keeps, and how it plays its hand.

One aspect of that hand concerns NetApp. Oracle uses a lot of NetApp kit. The Sun NetApp lawsuit about ZFS IP infringement could be settled out of court with goodwill on both sides. It's a distraction, especially so considering that Oracle is facing a massive integration exercise in the shape of Sun.

Oracle has not had to integrate a HW vendor before. SW integrations like PeopleSoft are huge, but digesting a near-tier one Systems HW+SW vendor like Sun is up on another level altogether. It's not inconceivable that Oracle could choke on it.

The other storage server/storage system suppliers - Dell, HP and IBM - will be watching very closely, as will the storage suppliers with current Sun supply contracts. Everything is up for grabs.

Who will win and who will lose? El Reg is going to follow this with interest. ®

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