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Sun shops unnerved by Oracle Alpha man

The Larry Factor

Uncertainty roapmap

When it does come to products, uncertainty over the roadmap has already seen customers slip away - to open source. Oracle executives have been trying to stop this with re-assurance by PowerPoint. Much could depend on what Oracle announces Wednesday.

Among those going have been customers of more than 10 years using Sun's Java application server, Sun ONE, or Solaris on the server. They have gone to JBoss and Tomcat on the application server and Red Hat, Ubuntu, and even - shock, horror - Sun's own OpenSolaris in the cloud, along with Amazon Web Services for compute and storage.

Freedom OSS chief technology architect Max Yankelevich claimed his company's moved up to 75 customers partially or fully off Sun's middleware and Solaris in the last eight months. He reckoned everything from back-office to websites is moving off Sun kit.

He pointed to cost, desire to avoid lock, concern about the lifespan of products and also over Oracle potentially pushing up the price of the Sun software as key factors. When it comes to lock-in and lifespan, many of the Sun ONE users bought in early on, more than 10 years back, in the mistaken belief Sun would be aggressive on Java application servers. It wasn't and they've been dependent on Sun ever since and stuck in maintenance mode.

"When the patient is open we suggest they look at cloud based design and open-source software, and it clicks well," Yankelevich said. He added the advent of cloud has added a new opportunity for organizations to run systems on a per-use basis.

Sun's hardware and Solaris has also suffered and could continue to take hits, even if Oracle retains some of the software business. A healthy part of Oracle's database business runs on Solaris. Customers such as those using Rocela, though, are now alarmed at the prospect of Oracle becoming their primary supplier of both their database and servers.

In this situation, the easiest move has been to keep the Oracle database and simply put it on a new server. "In the last six moths, where there have been server refreshes, Solaris has lost to HP and IBM. That will continue unless Oracles appeases those clients," Mutch said.

Wednesday, 27 January will be an important day for Oracle and Sun. Yes, it'll finally mean the roadmap is laid out for Oracle's products and those of Sun's that survive. It'll also potentially mean Oracle can end some of the uncertainty that's helped others prosper.

The problem for Oracle is that much damage has already been done and the very values that Sun and Oracle have sold the deal on - of integrated systems - will send a good number of customers running in the opposite direction, to regain control over the relationship with their technology supplier. ®

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