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Microsoft: Oracle will take us back to 1970s hell

Mini-computers, here we come

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Microsoft's server and tools chief Bob Muglia has chided Oracle for peddling a return to "1960s computing," accusing its rival of going against industry trends and backing a dying and expensive operating-system architecture.

Last month, Oracle modestly justified its $5.6bn purchase of Sparc and Solaris dinosaur Sun Microsystems by saying it would take us back to a golden age 1960s-style of computing — that is, when things worked.

The giant's top brass promised Sparc hardware integrated with Solaris and Oracle software that would be reliable and integrated. Sparc would also provide untouchable levels of performance in the cloud with Oracle selling products that let others fluff their online dreams.

But Microsoft's Muglia doesn't see it that way. He knocked Oracle for going down a vertical route of integrated and proprietary hardware and software that would deny customers choice and take us right back to an age that was anything other than golden and was renowned for just one thing: stagnation. That would be the 1970s.

"There are some things that Oracle is doing that I just shake my head at," Muglia told financial analysts attending the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, California. "I don't understand what's going to happen — what they think they're going to do with Sparc. I don't see how Sparc can live long-term."

Muglia said he doesn't see how Oracle can fight the economics or historical trends that are moving towards commodity x86 systems and away from Unix. The kinds of data centers being built out by Microsoft, Facebook, and others are running x86 servers from companies like Dell.

He noted that Oracle's commitment to Unix would simply provide greater opportunity for Microsoft's software.

"It's fine if they want to go off and spend a lot of money on doing it. We'll just continue to sell x86 systems to our customers. And we'll work with partners like HP," he said.

"There's no question that there has been a trend," Muglia said of verticalization, typified by Oracle's purchase of Sun. "I sort of look at it, and I admit I shake my head. It's the back to the future sort of trend of this highly verticalized company that feels a lot like the mini-computer companies of the 1970s, and sort of the structure that's expected where everything will be purchased from one vendor."

Like Oracle, Microsoft hopes to deliver the software that lets people run their own clouds. Amazon, for example, is providing SQL Server instances on its S3 storage service. Unlike Oracle, Microsoft is building its own cloud infrastructure, with Azure.

Muglia said Microsoft's server and tools business — home to SQL Server — would not make much money from cloud sales in the next three years but income from cloud would become "very material" in the long term. Cloud "will likely become a significant part of where our revenue comes from in the future" he said.

Bootnote

Muglia also slammed virtualization rival VMware for exaggerating the cost savings from Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). The executive said savings gained by avoiding the need to buy additional desktop hardware are offset by expansion in the data center.

Rather than increased server hardware or licensing of products such as Windows or SQL Server, though, he tactfully cited an increase heating and energy costs.

He was speaking in the week Microsoft refreshed one of the horses in its own VDI stable — AppV, which has been designed to work with Office 2010 with improved SharePoint integration. AppV 4.6 will let you run completely virtualized instances of Office 2010. Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) was also updated with early code support for Windows 7.

"When all is said and done what I always tell people is don't assume you're going to save any money," Muglia said. "The real reason to drive to do VDI is because of the needs of the business from the way you're actually running and protecting the data that users are working with." ®

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