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Oracle OpenWorld keynotes emphasize hardware

Oracle OpenWorld kicked off yesterday in San Francisco (at the Moscone Center, same place VMWorld was held). Sun Microsystems Chairman and co-founder Scott McNealy and Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison took the stage for keynotes Sunday night, highlights of which were available on Oracle’s website this morning.

For perhaps the first time at an official public event, the word “storage” was uttered by an exec from the merging companies, who have already assured the world that server hardware development will continue.

According to McNealy,

If you think about the Sun technology that we’re bringing to the party, here, it’s the data center. It’s the servers, the storage, the networking, the infrastructure software, all the pieces, all of the executable environment within the cloud, the data center, the distributed computing environment, whatever else you want to say, and then you bring in the database, and the applications and ERP and middleware capabilities and developer tool capabilities of Oracle, and you have a very nice data center. A very robust, very scalable…enterprise data center.

This end to end “stack” vision would be in keeping with the other big players in the market, which are beginning to offer prepackaged product bundles and looking to be soup-to-nuts suppliers to the enterprise data center. Oracle’s competitive landscape for end-to-end stacks includes Cisco Systems Inc., IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Dell Inc.

There are advantages, Ellison said, in a company being able to control the engineering of both hardware and software. “We are not selling the hardware business-no part of the hardware business are we selling,” Ellison said in his keynote, though he went on to specifically discuss mostly server technologies like Sun’s SPARC chips. (Here’s where Sun might point out that it recently merged servers and storage together in terms of its engineering departments and in terms of its strategic thinking with Amber Road…)

So the biggest question for the storage hardware market with this merger still comes down to tape. Some of the competitive “stack” offerings like those from IBM include tape — in fact, with its latest Information Archive appliance, IBM is offering tape as an option managed by the GPFS global namespace, a setup highly remeniscent of the way Sun’s SAM-FS can manage data in disk repositories as well as StorageTek tape libraries.

Judging by the speeches from McNealy and Ellison, it seems no hardware product is being taken completely off the table yet, but what the newly merged entity will do with tape storage hardware specifically remains uncertain at this point.

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