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UC / Oracle Meeting July 13, 2011

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The UC Oracle Collaboration Group (OCG) met with Oracle in Redwood Shores. For this kick-off meeting, the goals were twofold - to give Oracle a chance to describe their organization and processes in the post-Sun acquisition world, and for UC people to present their current, most vexing issues resulting from the Sun acquisition. It should be noted that this meeting was not intended to include topics associated with the pre-Sun Oracle catalogue of products.


Seamless One Stop Support

The generally overarching corporate bullet point they wished to make was that they believed in a seamless hardware to application solutions and support structure with no finger pointing or customer driven support process management. Not a new message in the IT space, since we have heard variations on this theme many times over the years. It is easy to theorize, hard to sell, and even harder to deliver. Obviously, it is in the UC's best interests for them to succeed. The usual impediment to such is the pricing.

Education as a Vertical

New to Oracle is the creation of a vertical line of business for education. Starting on June 1 they assigned a VP, Cole Clark, to this role. He is not new to the education space, and his concern in understanding our needs and problems was clear and believable.

Committed to Sparc, x86 and Storage Product Lines

The VP of Product Management presented on the commitment to Sparc, x86 platforms and the various specialized disk and tape platforms. He presented visual road maps for these technologies in a manner that stated none of them are secretly back-burnered to oblivion. Specific references were made to significantly outperforming the HP Superdome line. Given Mark Hurd's prior position, the sound of the war drum was clear. It was apparent that there is pride of ownership in the former Sun hardware and Exadata systems.

Solaris

On the software side of the house, Solaris, Oracle Linux and Oracle VM, are topics unto themselves. All of them would seem to be central to Oracle for the foreseeable future. Most especially, it was made clear that Solaris is not on some hidden wind down program in favor of the other OS's, and that there will continue to be the open sourced variants of these systems. Oracle believes there is a place for Solaris, both as a VM and on the hardware.

Linux and Oracle VM

In the Oracle Linux arena, they emphasized that they will continue to make Kernel enhancements for high performance and reliability. There are standardized benchmarks showing the high degree of optimization they have achieved over the RHEL 5 baseline they use for compatibility testing. Customers are able to choose the RHEL certified compatible kernel or the optimized kernel in their deployments of Oracle Linux. The testing of the Oracle Kernel is oriented towards assurance of the Oracle software stack, but they believe it to be generally compatible for other vendor's software. Both Solaris and Linux are comprehensively tested in the Oracle VM environment. The somewhat controversial lack of certification for VMware is downplayed in the vein of "everything works there too", but one can easily see the sticking point of inserting the VMware hypervisor in Oracle's (desired) seamless software stack of support. The functional approach they have taken does not lend itself to plugging in any other vendor's component into one of the layers. From a business perspective, this is a daring strategy, and it is unclear how the customer community will salute, or not.

Java

As expected, their commitment to Java was emphasized. They believe it is central to their entire product line. OpenJDK will continue. The JRockit and Hotspot JVMs are being converged. There will be free and SE Advanced support options available. Glass fish AS is being viewed as the project level environment and Weblogic AS as the enterprise environment. Both will continue to co-exist. The JCAPS environment is expected to migrate to the Oracle SOA Suite. Bridging software will be available and a single license will cover both sides in the migration process. Sunset dates were not mentioned. Netbeans and Eclipse will continue and co-exist, but JDeveloper is considered strategic.

Hardware Maintenance

The current hardware maintenance vision is one that includes the support for Solaris, Oracle VM and Oracle Linux within the baseline. This is not a new idea in the industry, and is perhaps the most problematic of the Oracle practices discussed with us. Unlike the various Sun software support plans, Oracle has adopted a flat percentage per year approach based upon the hardware cost. There are a multitude of exceptional conditions that make such a generic approach problematic, and thus no surprise that this will likely be the largest area of dialogue and negotiation as the UC moves forward with Oracle.

There are permutations that they do not seem to have completely thought out. For example, one could download the free version of Oracle Linux and/or VM, and install a fully contract supported Oracle DBMS on top of it. How exactly would this seamless stack of support work in that context if it was not Oracle (Sun) hardware?

Deprecated Sun Software

The complexity of this topic has not changed. Aside from the specifics mentioned above, it is extremely important to look at the published roadmap on a per product basis. A small handful of former Sun products were adopted into the Oracle mainstream. Most were not. The Sun DSEE product is an interesting one, in that it is being combined functionally with the Oracle OID. A newly named Oracle Unified Directory will be the result. A release date was not mentioned.

Reference Web Pages

Not exhaustive, but good starting points.

Hardware
http://www.oracle.com/us/support/lifetime-support/lifetime-support-hardware-337183.html

Software
http://www.oracle.com/us/support/lifetime-support/lifetime-support-software-342730.html

Please contact arlene if you would like to have a more detailed discussion on any of these topics.