Love Fest at Oracle Confab: Sun and Dell

SAN FRANCISCO — Sun Microsystems upstaged its own announcement in a keynote address here at Oracle OpenWorld today by making way for a surprise onstage visit to the company’s keynote address by Michael Dell.

The main focus of Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s talk was the company’s introduction of Sun xVM, its new virtualization technology.

But Dell’s CEO and founder joined Schwartz to announce Dell has inked an OEM
agreement to distribute and support Sun’s Solaris operating system on Dell
PowerEdge servers. Schwartz said Sun reached out to Dell after analysis of
Solaris users revealed a third of them were running on Dell servers.

Michael Dell

Michael Dell

Source: Dell

On the
other side Michael Dell said his company was hearing more and more requests
from customers, including Oracle customers, for the company to provide support for Solaris. Dell is schedule to make his own keynote later today at the show.

Sun has run aggressive, very pointed marketing campaigns
promoting the benefits of its system over Dell, HP and others. But today in
a follow-up media briefing, Schwartz said, “The stupidest thing we could do
is say ‘You blew it, you made a mistake'” buying Dell.

Schwartz said such hardball marketing is a thing of the past for Sun. He even went so far as to
suggest customers could use the $5,000 they might save adopting Sun’s free
Solaris and xVM software “to buy a brand-new Dell server.”

The agreement is a feather in Sun’s cap and follows similar agreements
with IBM and Intel to
support Solaris. In the past Sun has noted a large number of Hewlett Packard
customers use Solaris, but there’s no such Solaris agreement with HP.

On the virtualization front, Sun is joining a suddenly crowded field of
players that includes market leader VMware, XenSource (now owned by Citrix)
and Microsoft, which plans to introduce a hypervisor  for Windows later this

Jonathan Schwartz

Jonathan Schwartz

Source: Sun

Just last month Dell inked a deal with
Citrix to distribute and support XenSource. Dell is also a leading provider
of VMware.

“What it says is there’s going to be a proliferation of hypervisors,” IDC
analyst Jean Bozman told “Companies are going to go
after customers in a variety of ways.”

Schwartz dismissed the notion Sun was entering a commodity market with a
free product that won’t help its bottom line. “Exxon just reached a
half a trillion dollar market cap based on a commodity,” said Schwartz.
“Commodities are where it’s at.”

Sun’s head of software, Rich Green, said there is plenty of opportunity
for new players in virtualization, noting market leader VMware is installed
on only about 9 percent of servers.

While Sun plans to make xVM and a unified management infrastructure called
xVM Ops Center, available for free later
this year, Schwartz said it will charge for support. For many enterprises
worldwide, he noted running “a free, unsupported product is not an option,”
because the cost of downtime far outweighs the cost of support.

In addition to the standard advantage of facilitating server
consolidation, Schwartz said xVM and Ops Center are designed to help
forward-looking “dynamic” datacenters better deal with a flood of new data
streams from public-facing workloads.

He suggested Sun will have an
advantage over VMware because of its experience as both an operating system
provider (Solaris) and hardware manufacturer. In developing xVM, Sun
leveraged work it’s done as the second largest contributor to Xen’s open
source virtualization software.

Ops Center will include a unified management console designed to help
users manage both the virtualized and physical components of their IT
environments. Sun xVM Server, Sun’s virtualization server, will include code
derived from the Xen open source community.

Sun said xVM Server will
help extend the benefits of technologies like Predictive Self-Healing
software and ZFS to Windows and Linux guest operating system instances,
previously only available to Solaris OS users.

In a demo, Steve Wilson, vice president of Connected Systems
Management at Sun, used Ops Center to connect with his company’s Denver data
center to show how a network administrator might reallocate resources or
distribute a patch.

He said Sun has worked to simplify the management console to make it more
accessible, using the metaphor of the popular Facebook social network, with
users “invited” to connect to administrators once the proper security
entries are made.

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