IT industry giants Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. yesterday announced a greatly expanded partnership designed to give Microsoft a standards-based run for its money.
Sun CEO Scott McNealy and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said the ultimate goal of the newly reinvigorated collaboration is to provide an alternative to Microsoft's .NET in the form of a full-featured, competitively priced and Java-based datacenter architecture made up of components from both companies -- such as Sun's open source Solaris 10 operating system and Oracle's Java-based Fusion middleware.
While the deal stops short of a merger, McNealy and Ellison said the firms will aggressively package and market each other's non-competing software and have signed an agreement to continue working together on Java development initiatives for at least the next 10 years.
"Our joint perspective is that we're going to collaborate, interoperate, integrate, use open technologies, and collaborative and community development, and really go after what tends not to be so open," said McNealy, who along with Ellison spoke to employees and news reporters at a meeting at Oracle's Redwood Shores, Calif., headquarters.
In addition to Oracle's new 10-year commitment to the Java Community Process, the company plans to offer a major endorsement Sun's Java-based NetBeans software, an open-source integrated development environment, and Oracle has already dubbed Solaris 10 its preferred 64-bit development and deployment platform.
"The Oracle endorsement of NetBeans starts from the developer side all the way through," McNealy said.
As a new Oracle original equipment manufacturer, Sun said it will soon begin shipping "basically a free" version of Oracle's database software, along with a year of support.
"We're going to bundle the server, the storage, the licensing, the support into an Oracle database package that will be unbeatable price-wise," McNealy declared. "And did I say no IBM Global Services?"
McNealy added that "as a bonus" the entire Sun Microsystems organization will soon be running the latest version of Oracle's ERP software.
"[This] really means that Sun in the not-to-distant future will be running its entire business on Java applications," said Ellison, referring to the fact that Oracle is currently rewriting business applications in Java. "It's a big deal. It's hard to get there, and of course, Oracle will be doing exactly the same thing."
Praise for Java, criticism for SAP
During the meeting, Ellison took a moment to emphasize the importance his company places on Oracle, but the tender moment quickly turned into an opportunity to slam his firm's chief rival, Germany's SAP AG.
"We have based our entire middleware strategy on Java, [Java 2 Enterprise Edition] and Java-based portals. Our integration approach, everything is really built around Java," Ellison said.
"SAP believes that they can modernize their applications without changing them," Ellison continued. "They keep writing programs in a language called ABAP [Advanced Business Application Programming], which is a 25-year-old proprietary language not related to Java. It has the same number of letters in its name, but it really is an old-fashioned proprietary technology."