So as it looks like Oracle will get its acquisition of Sun approved with all the consequences of creating a second hardware and software combo player in the market (IBM being the first), and all of a sudden a third alternative arrives, the new HP and Microsoft team. But is all of this simple industry consolidation, or is more of a realignment to deal with the new technology and business market that is also emerging? The question is an important one as most CIOs will be worried about the impacts all of this has on their product portfolios and future support.
Just reflect on the on-off nature of things between Oracle and Sun, and Oracle and HP to see this. First it was Oracle and Sun, who partnered, then there was a split and Oracle partnered with HP. One of the powerful fruits of this was Exadata 1.0, so a year or more back this would look like a great high performing combination to install. Then it was Oracle and Sun back together again with the launch of Exadata 2.0, perhaps an even higher performing combination. But what if you have already built around Exadata 1.0? I am not suggesting that any of these players aren’t going to support their technology, but there is a question about just how realistic this is in terms of resources and time spent.

So in the context of our existing IT portfolios there are questions, and if you want to delve into this more deeply then I’d recommend my own favourite blogger on Microsoft, Mary Jo Foley. She has made a succession of posts starting with the original announcement and it is well worth using the ‘next post’ button at the bottom of the page to follow them. The released headlines (see below) are pretty simple, and seem to focus on today’s world, (1 & 2 compete with Oracle-Sun, 3 competes with VMware & Cisco, and 4 helps against both of these plus IBM), until you get to the last one.

  1. HP Servers come configured with Microsoft SQL Server and/or Exchange
  2. A pre configured data warehouse will be developed and launched
  3. Various forms of Virtualisation capabilities will be released
  4. A dedicated sales force will sell the results of this $250 million partnership
  5. Interoperability improvements for Microsoft Azure and HP Servers

Now let’s focus on the emerging shape of a market driven by clouds and at the end of SOA World blog, one of the few blogs that did pick up this angle, you’ll find the key quotes from the original press conference including ‘transform the way large enterprises deliver services to their customers’ and ‘Microsoft and HP are betting on each other so our customers don’t have to gamble on IT’. The first statement doesn’t appear to be about the role of internal IT at all; it’s about the shifting focus to using technologies from the cloud and the web to do business externally with other companies or individuals. The second is a pure ‘Fear Uncertainty and Doubt’, (FUD) argument that bypasses the risk of lock-in and replaces it with the benefit of certainty. No problem with this in principle, but would you really want to get locked in so early in a new wave?
Let me offer an alternative set of views on what this brings. Firstly as a plethora of devices replace PCs as the ‘sole’ client device then Microsoft can no longer count on its market position based on shipping PCs with Microsoft preloaded. Instead the challenge is to make Microsoft a force on the Servers that run the cloud so that when those devices use ‘services’, Microsoft software will be a preeminent Platform as a Service, PaaS. With this goes the use of Azure in providing the capability to develop on this platform using familiar Microsoft tools. For HP the challenge is how to be more visible and valuable than a competitive Infrastructure as a Service, IaaS, player. Partnering with Microsoft to build a dominant PaaS, which can also support the growing number of HP devices and services including home PCs, printers, media devices, phones, makes perfect sense.
The Client-Server era was dominated by ‘WinTel’, Windows and Intel architecture, the game is on for the dominant platform for the Cloud era. Could it be Hew-Soft or Orac-Sun?
Then again, who says that it needs to be technology stacks that create the dominant force? It could be that IBM dominates this area through their focus on industry vertical sectors and ‘smart business’ architectures. These are based on the IBM technology architecture, and therefore, the IBM technology stack