Will Larry Turn Oracle-Sun Into the New AS/400?

May 8, 2009
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If you’re interested in following the Oracle-Sun saga, there’s an excellent chance that you’ve seen the Reuters interview with Larry Ellison. If not, here’s the link to Jim Finkle’s thought-provoking piece, “Q+A What are Larry Ellison’s plans for Sun Micro.”

In the interview, Larry reiterates his intention to stay in the hardware business and also says that he plans to “increase the investment in SPARC.” His rationale: “We think designing our own chips is very important.”

As you might imagine, the Reuters piece generated a ton of internal e-mail. My favorite may have been Jim Shepherd’s comparison of Oracle-Sun with IBM’s AS/400. Here’s Shep’s take:

“What I find interesting is Larry’s suggestion that Oracle may build hardware and software that are genuinely complementary. We haven’t really seen anyone do this since IBM revolutionized the market with its AS/400 (remember AS stood for Application System.). Like IBM, Oracle could ship a single integrated product that includes hardware, operating system, database, development tools, communication environment, and business applications…

If you’re interested in following the Oracle-Sun saga, there’s an excellent chance that you’ve seen the Reuters interview with Larry Ellison. If not, here’s the link to Jim Finkle’s thought-provoking piece, “Q+A What are Larry Ellison’s plans for Sun Micro.”

In the interview, Larry reiterates his intention to stay in the hardware business and also says that he plans to “increase the investment in SPARC.” His rationale: “We think designing our own chips is very important.”

As you might imagine, the Reuters piece generated a ton of internal e-mail. My favorite may have been Jim Shepherd’s comparison of Oracle-Sun with IBM’s AS/400. Here’s Shep’s take:

“What I find interesting is Larry’s suggestion that Oracle may build hardware and software that are genuinely complementary. We haven’t really seen anyone do this since IBM revolutionized the market with its AS/400 (remember AS stood for Application System.). Like IBM, Oracle could ship a single integrated product that includes hardware, operating system, database, development tools, communication environment, and business applications. 

The AS/400 was simple, relatively cheap to buy and operate, and absolutely bulletproof. Buyers loved it and IBM shipped more than 800,000 of them—far and away the most successful midrange platform in history. How much of companies’ TCO woes are related to the problems of managing increasingly complex, multi-vendor stacks of technology?”

What do you think?