Oracle, Sun to launch OLTP product despite merger hurdles

The companies look to combine software and hardware in a new database machine

Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems is being closely scrutinized by European Union regulatory authorities, but that isn't stopping the companies from making their first joint announcement since the deal was announced in April.

The vendors this week are providing details on what they describe as the world's first OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) database machine with Sun FlashFire technology. Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison and Sun's John Fowler, executive vice president for Systems, will announce the product during a webcast Tuesday, according to an invite on the vendors' Web sites posted over the weekend.

The registration form for the webcast is illustrated with a picture of an Exadata system, a core member of Exadata Storage Server and Database Machine family of products announced last September.

Oracle called the product series, developed with Hewlett-Packard, its first line of hardware products. The series consists of preconfigured server racks including Oracle software and HP ProLiant servers that are designed to provide very high performance for data warehousing applications.

Recently, Oracle has stepped up the rhetoric when it comes to its plans for Sun. Last week, in a message to Sun customers, the company said it would "dramatically improve Sun's hardware performance by tightly integrating Oracle software and Sun hardware."

Oracle also, at the beginning of the month, put out a teaser ad for its OpenWorld conference in October with the headline "Sun+Oracle is Faster," saying it plans to offer "proof" at the show.

Integration between Oracle's software and Sun's hardware is the most apparent synergy between the companies, said Per Sedihn, CTO at Swedish storage consultant Proact.

Buying both software and hardware from one vendor should, in theory, result in lower integration costs, since everything comes prepackaged, according to Sedihn. But users also can get locked in to one vendor, he said.

"There isn't an easy solution; you have to weigh the pros and cons in every separate case," said Sedihn.

The merger between Sun and Oracle still hasn't closed. The deal hit a setback when the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the planned US$7.4 billion takeover, citing "serious concerns" about the acquisition's effect on competition in the database market.

The Commission has until Jan. 19, 2010 to reach a decision.

The Commission wants to protect competition, but might end up doing the opposite by delaying the deal, according to Valdis Filks, research director at Gartner.

The uncertainty of what will happen gives, for example, HP and IBM the opportunity to solidify a duopoly in the high-end server space, he said.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," said Filks.

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