Paraphrasing local bedding shop in the west, “You’re killing me, Larry!” But it’s not so much his posturing as it is Larry’s presumption that he enjoys special relationships with every vendor up and down Silicon Valley!
However, Larry also has a Plan B, and this is the second issue; should the thin veneer he has thrown up around Itanium be penetrated and his plans to sell Sparc crumble, then he will bring IBM into the ruckus as well and really go after both the Itanium and Power programs. If he’s to be left with x86 processors as his only future platform, then he has to start the heavy-lifting associated with neutralizing the oppositions chip sets!
After all, Larry is pushing hard to sell the full stack once again, as he envisions Oracle becoming a one-stop shop! It’s hard not to miss how envious Larry is of the old IBM. Perhaps the one comment he made as he took a shot at the Itanium chip that he would like to take back is when he expressed envy over IBM’s mainframe model from decades ago.
Readers of UK publication, The Register, on March 24th, 2011, could hardly have missed the commentary provided by Dan Olds of Gabriel Consulting, when he suggested that “to me, this is the reality of what Ellison meant when he said that Oracle wants to be the IBM of the 1960s. Oracle wants to have the incredible margins that IBM enjoyed back then. It wants to have that lock-in that IBM had in the days when there were few alternatives and even fewer standards that would allow customers to easily move from vendor to vendor.”
Expressed a little differently, and with an admonishment, CNet.com writer Jonathan Eunice posted on April 1, 2011, of how “Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has described the mainframe era and model in glowing terms; if he's hell-bent on going there, and on pulling customers into Oracle's ‘full stack’ fold, then Oracle's traditional commitment to heterogeneous multi-vendor support goes by the wayside. If I were an Oracle customer running on any non-Oracle hardware, I'd be asking for long-term support and software update assurances, in writing, with clear and enforceable penalties for non-performance. Verbal reassurances would no longer be sufficient.”
Left with just an x86 chip then yes, to drive home the “full stack” where he doesn’t hold all the cards is not the typically “winning-hand” that Larry would want to hold.
Unfortunately, that’s not all that he’s facing; there’s more! There’s a very serious concern, and the third issue that I see – Oracle, as a data base, is flawed and it’s becoming increasingly obvious to large users.
At issue is the strong tie Oracle has to Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) architectures. It can be argued that it has been the exploitation of SMP that has helped Oracle to achieve the success it has enjoyed to date, but when data bases grow too big, and clustering is pursued, SMP really gets in the way! Shared nothing architectures, with the relationship they enjoy between processors, the disk processor (DP2) and the disks, support linear scalability whereas clustering SMP nodes usually peaks at around 3, perhaps 4 – certainly well short of the 100 you find in the text books.
Of late, several very large customers of Oracle have moved to NonStop and in the weeks leading up to HP Discover event I am sure we will hear a lot more about them. But I sense this is the start of a gradual shift in emphasis with NonStop as the answer to a secure data base that can simply scale practically without limit, and without Larry, will become extremely newsworthy! Perhaps these flaws in Oracle are really what have Larry anxiously practicing S&D!
In the meantime, as HP’s Randy Meyer went on to add, “NonStop customers continue to rely on HP’s NonStop Blade technology. The value proposition has been proven time and time again. Leveraging the RAS features that are fundamental to Intel’s Itanium chipset, NonStop continues to deliver world class availability and scale for customer applications that demand true 24x7 availability.”
As for my own home office data center, the installations have been completed and the systems are up and running and I am free to continue writing. I will keep watching the headlines though, as I have to believe we haven’t heard the last from Larry on the topic of Itanium. However, the shock value has now diminished and Itanium users are no longer uncertain about the future so I have to wonder, is it now IBM’s turn to appear in the cross-hairs of Larry’s sights?