News about Oracle's plans for (some) Sun hardware

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Oracle held a five hour marathon phone briefing yesterday (which I had planned to attend, but didn’t get a chance to) to talk about their plans for Sun. Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Register has covered some of the news. In broad strokes, Oracle is keeping at least some of the hardware and the R&D budget that goes with it (Oracle is actually counting a 65% increase in its R&D budget, but this is mostly due to the addition of Sun’s existing budget, so the net-net is the same amount of R&D, just all in one company). Oracle’s focus will be on growing the hardware that will allow it to deliver a total solution to its software customers, and this only overlaps with HPC in a few places.

…if you’re a Sun customer, you’ll be relieved to know that Oracle at least said it will invest in Sparc and x64 servers, storage, operating systems, and other technologies.

They are going to hire about 2,000 engineers and sales people — but don’t get too excited, since they are also going to fire about 2,000 other folks (and don’t forget that Sun has been shedding big numbers of people, including 6,000 right before SC09)

2,000 engineers, sales people, and marketeers to help create and peddle Sun’s products. To pay for the extra research and development, sales, and marketing investments, Oracle is going to eliminate Sun’s back office operations – that’s what it always does with acquisitions – and it will streamline Sun’s parts supply chain and manufacturing operations, pare down and organize Sun’s support operations and align them with Oracle’s, and shift to direct sales at the top 1,700 global Sun accounts.

And they are abandoning commodity to focus on the Sparc T series found in midrange systems and clusters

Phillips stole some of Fowler’s server thunder – he is the boss, so he can do that – when he said that Oracle was not putting the future of Sun’s hardware business on the commodity x64 server racket, as Sun’s own chiefs had done back in 2004 as a means of bolstering the company. “We’re not too interested in being in the commodity x86 Windows market,” Phillips said. “Other companies – Dell and so forth – are good at that. Let them do it.”

From another Timothy Prickett Morgan article

Oracle will also shut down businesses that Sun has been pursuing that do not make money, according to the reports. That could include backtracking on low-end x64-based servers, but not Sparc-based machinery, which will get a boost.

The future of HPC at Sun

I suspect that does HPC not make much money for Sun. When you add that to the observation that Oracle is not a computation company, it is a database company, I don’t see a future for HPC at OraSun. This should mean that software like GridEngine and so on are open sourced (the company won’t want the ill will that would go with just putting it in an iron box in the ground), and an end to the large switches and ancillary engineering that made machines like Ranger possible. I expect the storage line may survive, because that lines up with Oracle’s enterprise business, but that business may start to be driven entirely by enterprise requirements which will make the hardware less relevant to HPC. That would be a boon to SpectraLogic, the company best positioned to ferry Sun’s HPC storage customers to the other side of this acquisition. Wonder what happens to Lustre?


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  1. I’ve been unable to find any mention of HPC or Lustre in any of the Oracle presentations on Sun’s future – doesn’t sound very hopeful. 🙁