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Testing, testing, testing...

Another argument Oracle will be making is that its stack is more fully tested and better integrated that piece parts infrastructure supporting Oracle databases and/or applications. Oracle will be perfectly happy to let you deploy its applications on other cloudy infrastructure, of course. But the "combinatoric testing" that Oracle is going, as Fowler put it several times in the Webcast, that Oracle and Sun are doing will be better than what you can do by yourself or with the help of a services partner.

"First and foremost, this is about eliminating surprises," said Fowler. And in the wake of the Oracle acquisition of Sun in January, a big piece of the Oracle software testing regimen was moved over to giant Sun server farms set up for this purpose.

In the end, Oracle will be pitching that Oracle VM is cheaper than alternatives like VMware's vSphere or IBM's PowerVM, because it is freely distributed on x64 or Sparc iron, with a "modest fee" for technical support. "You can cobble together your own solution out of piece parts," said Screven, "but your support costs are going to be higher."

A year of Oracle VM Premier Limited support, as you can see from Oracle's price list, costs $599 per system; this support contract covers machines with one or two processor sockets. Oracle VM Premier, which is for systems with any number of sockets, costs $1,199. Oracle VM Management Pack costs $1,800 per socket, and provides monitoring, configuration management, and lifecycle automation of VMs. These prices are competitive with VMware's vSphere 4.1 virtualization stack.

There is one other trump card that Oracle can play, and it is an important one. Oracle's databases and applications are not, technically speaking, certified to run atop VMware's hypervisors. Oracle does, according to VMware, support its databases and applications when they are running atop ESX Server and ESXi, as you can read here. VMware runs its own business using Oracle's E-Business and Siebel applications, and runs it virtualized on its own hyperisors.

If customers are in for 50 pence with Oracle databases, middleware, and applications, it is a fairly safe bet that Oracle can convince a large number of customers to go all the way to one pound with operating systems, virtualization, management tools, servers, and storage.

That's the $5.6bn bet Larry Ellison made with the Sun acquisition. ®

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