Monday, 15 February 2010

Sun And Apps

On the 27th January 2010 Oracle had a big showcase event to talk about their acquisition of Sun, and as a User Group Leader I was privileged to have a VIP seat, at least I was at the start, the only thing missing from a very polished and informative morning was a few comfort breaks.

Quest International asked me to write this article on the impact of the Sun/Oracle merger I said ‘why not?’ so here I am a few weeks later just before the deadline putting my thoughts into writing, and I am not so sure now, but they agreed I could blog this so here we are.

You can actually watch the whole event, and Oracle have cut it into 7 manageable webcasts, or simply presentations so you. I am not simply going to regurgitate the presentations for you but tell you what I thought it meant to applications users. At a minimum watch the first section where you get an overview and the last which is the Q&A session with Larry Ellison.

First on was Charles Phillips on how the acquisition transforms the industry, and it certainly transforms Oracle. This makes them not only able to supply the entire stack for their customers, but it also changes them into a manufacturing company, with operations and logistics they have never had to manage before.

Sun is foremost a hardware company and this was an area I am particularly interested in, because although I work in the services organisation, my employer Fujitsu provides the Fujitsu provides SPARC64 processors and SPARC Enterprise M-series servers for Sun and the acquisition we hope will be good for us. Oracle acknowledged their continued strategic partnership and co-development and I was very pleased with that.

The newspapers, blogs, twitter and all other commentary talks about the end of a great era, but if Sun was that great, why was it not making any money? And if it was unprofitable how does Larry Ellison think it will make a profit within its first quarter? Well it was not a problem with the product, look what Oracle and Sun had already done with their joint venture around the Database Machine. What I understood from the day was that Oracle believe 3 fundamental changes will turn Sun hardware around:

First they will sell direct to the top 3000 customers, and to prove that they were serious each Oracle Executive had a ‘we’re Hiring’ badge on. 2000 sales and development posts.

The second major change was that they intend to move from a ‘Build to Stock’ to a ‘Build To Order’ model, making the manufacturing process more lean and cost effective.

Finally another big savings area is in efficiency, Oracle have great back office systems, a single global instance of E Business Suite and Siebel and a very slick and well rehearsed consumption of acquired companies process, that will strip costs out of the Sun operation. Yes they did lay people off but said about 1000 roles, so still a net gain of 1000 jobs. They will have to add manufacturing and logistic systems but again they have them in their portfolio. It is also interesting to note that this may delay Oracle’s own migration to Fusion Applications as an entire suite as manufacturing is not in the first release expected later this year. However my belief is that it will make them an even better reference for Fusion as they will have some core functionality in Fusion and integration to these more niche areas, the model I believe most customers will take initially.

If you are a Sun hardware customer your account manager may change, and that means yet another Oracle person ‘on the bus’, but hopefully they will all know your Oracle investment. Does it mean better service in purchasing, I hope so? If you run Oracle Applications over Oracle Middleware and Database, you will be a full stack Oracle customer and Oracle went onto say that you would have an improved experience with Support. The migration of Sun Support to MyOracleSupport will be fast and you will have visibility of all your issues in one place, their proactive tools will prompt you for interoperability issues or improvements. They will also offer a full integrated service through Advanced Services. My first reaction was ‘Yeah, at an extra cost’, and yes Advanced Services is an additional cost but if you could have all your support simplified and integrated it may well be cost effective, so don’t dismiss it out of hand without careful consideration. They also promised to keep support windows for the Sun products so no hidden price hikes.

Solaris as an operating system, gives Oracle full coverage, their move into Linux gave them a lot but the majority of customers still wanted their enterprise to run on Unix and Solaris is one of the major players.

If you don’t use Sun or Solaris will it mean Oracle will stop supporting what you use? No they want to ensure they keep their customer base as this is what funds their Research and Development so they will continue with the Open Standards strategy that will allow this. It is likely that Solaris and Sun will get certified first against products and over time some functionality will I expect move into the stack to encourage you to use Sun.

Oracle wanted Java as this is the backbone to their next generation applications. Oracle have bet heavily on Java, it is taught in school, there is a vast pool of well train but realistic salary expecting developers and these skills are transferrable, they are not proprietary like Oracle Forms or PeopleSoft Tools. Oracle want to ensure Java does not go off at a tangent, and they unveiled plans to work on the mobile versions of Java which have already started to move that way, with a slightly different version for each device, they are intending to move to a write-once, deploy-many concept. This was very well received.

The area that had most press was MySQL, this is open source and many people and especially the European Commission were worried that Oracle that the healthy competition between MySQL and Oracle Database would be eroded. I am the deputy Chair of the UKOUG and our chair Ronan Miles along with Ian Abrahamson of IOUG travelled to Brussels to address the European Commission. Miles said “Oracle has a proven track record in supporting open standards,”. True to their word Oracle announced improvements for MySQL and that it would remain as a separate Global Business Unit.

Oracle did a great job of talking about what specific products would move into existing Oracle portfolios like SUN Role Manager, analytics for your security moving into the Oracle Security family and the records software SUN Master Index joining the Master Data Management suite.

As they said Oracle had 9 months delay to do the planning and as soon as they got the go ahead the Oracle Machine set rolling and it was a great, thorough and indepth update of what they will do with Sun. With every acquisition the acquired customers are understandably nervous and with each acquisition Oracle has proved they can improve on customer satisfaction. This is why Quest and all other user groups believe the acquisition is good for both existing and new customers, and why we backed the acquisition. A successful Oracle is good for their customers and so whatever Oracle product you use, you will benefit from another successful acquisition and your user group will ensure that happens. When Larry Ellison held his amusing Q&A at the end of the day, Heli Helskyaho , President of the Finish User Group and the joint spokesperson for the EMEA Oracle User Group Community stood up and said, ‘we as user groups made the decision to support you on Sun, please don’t let us down’.


meteortorrey said...

Thanks for the interesting blog. One small correction: Fujitsu provides SPARC64 processors and SPARC Enterprise M-series servers to Sun, not X64 or x86 processors or servers.

(I'm in the Fujitsu SPARC Enterprise server development group. I hope some of that Oracle efficiency rubs off on good old FJ!)

Debra Lilley said...

thanks for the correction, I have amended the main posting