Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison both took the stage at the Oracle OpenWorld 2009 conference Sunday evening to offer reassurances that Sun technologies will not go away should Oracle complete its planned acquisition of Sun.
From Java to the Solaris OS to the Sparc CPU platform and Sun storage technologies, Oracle will be good for all of them, the executives stressed at the San Francisco event. As a matter of fact, combining Sun's research and development budget with Sun's presents “one of the great R&D opportunities of all time,” McNealy said.
Oracle, for example, intends to spend more money developing Sparc than Sun does now, he said. “That's a good sign for Sparc innovation,” McNealy said.
“You look at the core technologies that we're developing: They're going to find a nice home in this next chapter,” he said, referring to merger.
Ellison, for his part, took exception with IBM for suggesting Oracle was not committed to Sun's wares, particularly Sun hardware. “We're looking forward to competing with IBM in the systems [business] and we think the combination of Sun and Oracle [is] well-equipped to compete successfully against the giant,” Ellison said.
Ellison said he would give $10 million to anyone — any major company or enterprise — whose existing database application would not run at least twice as fast on Sun gear. The challenge would be part of a new ad campaign. But he acknowledged Oracle recently was fined $10,000 for running a recent ad comparing Sun and Oracle to IBM, in which the benchmark evidence had not yet been documented. His explanation cited overzealousness on Oracle's part.
“If IBM wants to compete, we're happy to compete and we made a series of commitments,” Ellison said. Solaris, meanwhile, is the leading enterprise OS and the leading OS for running the Oracle database, he said.
“We said we're not selling the hardware business and we think Sparc is a fantastic technology. And with a little more investment, it could be even better,” said Ellison.
Oracle also plans to increase its investment in the open source MySQL database, Ellison said. He added that Oracle already has continued to invest in the Innobase technology it acquired that serves as the transaction engine in MySQL. There had been speculation that Oracle bought Innobase “to kill it,” but that has not happened at all, Ellison stressed. MySQL currently is owned by Sun.
IBM had been a rumored suitor for Sun prior to Oracle forging a deal to buy the company nearly six months ago. The sale remains held up by the European Union, which is concerned over commercial database giant Oracle owning MySQL. Recently, Ellison said Sun has been losing $100 million a month waiting for the sale to close. McNealy said efforts to close the sale were proceeding with authorities.
To argue on behalf of Oracle's commitment to Java, McNealy brought Sun Vice President James Gosling, considered the father of Java, onstage. Oracle's product mix features Java and the company has participated in numerous Java Specification Requests (JSR), Gosling said. The JSR process is used to submit modifications to the platform to the community at large.
Oracle, though, has been a bit unprepared for the volume of activity in the Java world, Gosling, said. “We do 15 million downloads of the JRE (Java Runtime Edition) a week on average,” he said.
Also appearing onstage at OpenWorld was John Fowler, Sun vice president of system. “My team is excited about working closely with Oracle because we have been working with Oracle now [for] what's measured in decades,” Fowler said. He lauded recent Sun-Oracle performance benchmarks and noted the recently introduced Sun-Oracle Exadata Database Machine Version 2, which combines Sun hardware with Oracle's database and storage management software. Fowler also announced the Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array, which integrates 1.6TB of Flash storage into a device that looks like a server.
McNealy cited a long list of Sun accomplishments, including the Network File System, the various editions of Java, Sparc's being the first 64-bit volume RISC architecture, and the company's contributions to open source, including its use of Berkeley Unix. “We were the Red Hat of Berkeley Unix,” he said.
In a brief interview after the evening presentation, Tim Bray, Sun's director of Web technologies, would not comment on whether the Sun name would go away as part of the merger with Oracle or whether Sun would become a division of Oracle.
In a Top 10 list entitled “Top 10 Signs Engineers Have Gone Wild,” McNealy took potshots at Apple for not supporting Java on its iPhone. “Friends don't let friends type on an iPhone especially since it doesn't run Java. Are you listening, Steve,” McNealy said, referring to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “[The iPhone is] the only device on the planet that doesn't run Java.”
He also ridiculed President Barack Obama's winning of the Nobel Peace prize last week, without mentioning the President by name. One of the engineering signs on McNealy's list pertained to a Nobel prize for a gas mask bra, leading McNealy to follow the reference with a comment that such an award was “no more ridiculous than some other Nobel prizes that I've heard of.”