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Ellison: Sunacle is an IBM killer

'We are keeping everything'

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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison plans to combine Sun Microsystems hardware - all of it - with Oracle software to take over the enterprise-computing world.

"I would like us to be the successor to IBM," he told a business and technology forum Monday night in San José, California.

But not today's IBM, he emphasized.

"We want to be T.J. Watson Jr.'s IBM. Not [Louis] Gerstner's IBM. Not [Sam] Palmisano's IBM," he said, contrasting that company's heyday during the 50s, 60s, and 70s with its slow transformation into a services company in recent years.

Speaking of the younger Watson's leadership of the company from 1952 to 1971, Ellison said: "That's when IBM really was the dominant software company...and they translated that position in software to become the dominant systems company in the world."

"T.J. Watson's IBM was the greatest company in the history of enterprise in America because they had that combination of hardware and software running most of the enterprises on the planet."

And that's what Ellison wants to do with Sun.

"We think with the combination of Sun technology and Oracle technology we can succeed and beat IBM," he said, "That's our goal."

"We are not going into the hardware business," he said, "We have no interest in the hardware business."

But he was quick to clarify that point, saying that he doesn't plan to jettison Sun's hardware portfolio. On the contrary, he plans to leverage it from a pure hardware play into a hardware cum software systems operation.

"We have a deep interest in the systems business," he explained. "We think that by combining our software with hardware that we can deliver systems that can be the backbone of most enterprises in America and around the world."

"We have no interest in competing with Dell," he continued, contrasting selling big iron with selling big solutions. "We are very interested in running airline systems. We're very interested in running banking systems and telecommunication systems. And that requires both hardware and software."

When asked if Oracle planned to keep all of Sun existing systems, Ellison was adamant: "We are keeping everything. We're keeping tape. We're keeping storage. We're keeping x86 technology and SPARC technology - and we're going to increase the investment in it."

He also was lavish in his praise of Sun: "Sun has fantastic technology. We think it's got great microprocessor technology - it needs a little more investment, but we think it can be extremely competitive. It's got the leading tape archival systems. We think the Open Storage on their new disk system is absolutely fantastic. Java speaks for itself. Solaris is overwhelmingly the best open-systems operating system on the planet."

Fully revved up, he then finished his homage by calling Sun "a national treasure for the last couple of decades."

And now it's part of Ellison's treasure chest. By combining Sun's hardware portfolio with Oracle's software portfolio - and integrating both companies' engineering savvy - Ellison wants to transform Oracle from a software house into a systems powerhouse.

All well and good - and maybe even doable. But from where we sit, Ellison's statement that "We are keeping everything" in Sun's hardware portfolio is mighty hard to swallow. There's a lot of dead weight in that sack-o-tech.

But even if Ellison is merely blowing smoke, his passionate pro-Sun panegyric might help evaporate a few drops of flop sweat beading on the foreheads of terrified Sun engineers who live in fear of the next move by the man who holds their futures in his ever-tightening grip. ®

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