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Sun Microsystems has been given a larger presence than usual at Oracle's annual OpenWorld conference to help showcase its products and joint work with Oracle, and plug leaking sales.

The database giant is understood to be concerned about the decline in Sun business and looking for projects the pair can pursue and flag, while still complying with regulatory law.

Oracle's still waiting for European regulators to approve its $5.6bn Sun purchase so it must be careful not to present integration with Sun as a fait accompli or suggest the companies have begun collaborating - a move that would be classed as unfair to the competition. Sun's revenue, meanwhile, has continued to slide amid the uncertainty.

The Reg has learned OpenWorld has been deemed as one of many projects that can help present a joint front while keeping it legal. OpenWorld will present "a good opportunity to get both companies in front of customers and make a strong statement" Sun has told its employees.

At the same time, though, Oracle is "bending over backwards" to treat Sun as a separate company by not giving Sun too many favors at OpenWorld and by treating it like any other attendee. Oracle's restricted the number of passes handed out to Sun staff and its show-floor presence.

The speaking focus is on topics close to the hearts of both companies. Sun employees will conduct a total of 48 OpenWorld sessions on subjects spanning Java, virtualization and storage. They will also talk up running Oracle's database and business applications on Sun's Sparc hardware.

This is quite a change from years past, when Oracle retreated from its love for Sparc and moved towards Intel and Linux after Sun bought a database of its own - MySQL.

Oracle is expected to show case the Exadata V2 database server built on Sun's Galaxy x64 server blades. It eschews Hewlett-Packard - who helped build the first Exadata server, launched at last year's OpenWorld, and that was built on Intel chips and Oracle's Enterprise Linux.

Big-name Sun speakers have also been conscripted. Co-founder and former chief operating officer Scott McNealy will appear with Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison to open the show. Java father James Gosling will speak separately on Sun's view of the enterprise and software. Other big names will also be speaking on programming and the cloud.

Away from the speakers spotlight, The Reg understands Oracle has restricted Sun's presence on the show floor itself. Sun will have a large booth and two kiosks at OpenWorld doing Java demonstrations with the company's NetBeans open-source integrated development environment and framework.

The Reg has also learned, though, NetBeans cannot be publicized by Sun, since it competes with Oracle's existing IDE and direction. Oracle's senior vice president for server technologies development Thomas Kurian rebuked Sun's chief executive Jonathan Schwartz in 2006 for saying Oracle had adopted and endorsed NetBeans.

"We have no plans to adopt either NetBeans or any of its technology. Any statements to the contrary by anyone else in the industry are not true," Kurian said at the time.

Instead, NetBeans will be used at this year's OpenWorld simply as a platform to demonstrate Java.

The restriction might be more than just an attempt to stay within the law. With the deal not closed, there's been no statement from Oracle on which of Sun's products and projects will be kept or cut, along with staff.

In an apparent attempt to re-assure Sun employees, the company has told staff on OpenWorld: "If a product isn't there, it doesn't mean anything for a product's continuation after integration."®

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