The pact between Oracle and Sun to provide dedicated, single function database servers could fulfil its aim and become a genuine threat to Microsoft, according to analysts.
The deal is the first in a series of expected alliances to come out of Oracle?s Raw Iron project, announced by Larry Ellison, the database supplier?s chairman and chief executive, at the Comdex show in Las Vegas this November.
But the Sun agreement is not quite what Ellison had in mind at the time, when he declared that Raw Iron boxes would run Oracle?s own ?special purpose, slim-line? operating system (OS).
Under the terms of this deal, Sun?s Sparc-based ?database server appliances? will instead run a stripped down, free version of the supplier?s Solaris Unix variant that will be factory-installed.
The bundle will also include Sun?s - rather than Oracle?s - middleware and e-commerce products, and an integrated version of the Oracle 8i database.
But Kimball Brown, an analyst with Dataquest, said he saw the new alliance between Sun and Oracle as a potential long-term threat to Microsoft.
?They have a huge technology lead here [over Microsoft], no doubt about it,? he claimed.
He also believed that the deal would provide a robust and proven 64-bit platform to run on Intel?s 64-bit Merced processor when it ships in 2000.
?If I?m Compaq and I?m fighting against HP on the Unix side, I?d be pretty excited about this,? he said.
But Microsoft retorted that its Windows NT/Back Office family of products already provided the kind of integration and ease of use that Oracle and Sun are promising, and questioned whether the OS would really be offered for free.
?It would be interesting to see their definitive pricing. You are going to be paying for that operating system somewhere,? said Karan Khanna, Microsoft?s lead product manager for Windows NT Server.
He also disputed whether single-task servers could save customers money.
?If you buy expensive [server] hardware, you may want it to do more than just one thing,? he attested.
(see analysis section for full story)
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