back to article Sun chum Oracle pushes database buyers to IBM

A couple of years back, Oracle chief Larry Ellison and then Sun CEO Scott McNealy held an event in Redwood City to renew their vows. Oracle signed on to ship Java for ten more years, and Sun started bundling Oracle's database on its servers at no charge. That last bit was meant to give Sun an edge over hardware rivals, although …


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  1. Mat Keep

    Oracle Databases on Niagara

    You state the no-one would run Oracle databases on a T1 base system. In fact eBay standardised on T2000s for their Oracle databases:

    And they were not the only ones - there are many others including Australian Finance Group, Casema, Central Bank of Egypt, Comic Relief, PTK and Scripps Florida here:

    It is interesting that Oracle's other products are licensed by user, not per core, so more and more customers are moving to site licenses

    Also, as you state, Standard Edition is licensed per socket ($15k including RAC) - so you could gang 4 x T5120/T5220s together with RAC, and get a pretty awesome OLTP database engine for $60k worth of licensing...assuming RAC scales of course.

  2. Ashlee Vance (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Oracle Databases on Niagara

    So, you're suggesting eBay is in its right mind then?

  3. Mat Keep


    I've bought some great stuff off their highly responsive, super fast site (boy their database servers are fast)

  4. Henry Cobb

    Transaction tax

    Why not simply sell Transactions Per Seconds packs?

    The customer will be nagged with a message like: "Looks like you've upgraded your chips old chap. Your current TPS license only lets you run all these new cores for half of each second. Perhaps you'd best call us up for an upgrade."

    And then the database vendors wouldn't have to track CPU developments past the point of a suggested license for each piece of kit.


  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Big Blue Blotting the NetLandScape?

    "Oracle, like IBM, continues to fight the shift toward multi-core chips with all its might, since the beefier silicon threatens to erode per processor licensing revenue."

    Sadly, Ashlee, is that the price Progress pays to render Fools at ITs Helms. And such worries are not Controls, they are Fears.

  6. Ian

    oracle of t2000 is fine for us

    We're running all our Oracle on T2000, with (for extra points) everything in Solaris 10 zones and all the storage coming over NAS from one of Uncle Larry's Pillar boxes. All seems very stable, and plenty fast enough for our purposes. The power savings are non-trivial too.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Beware the Oracle ELA

    Oracle's Sales strategy.

    Perform an Oracle License audit. Show the customer the bill for being out of compliance. Tell them you can get them an Enterprise License agreement to save them the big cost up front and make monthly payments and save a lot of money over time.

    Customer is happy and says "Oracle is free we have an ELA" and proceed to buy servers without regard for Oracle pricing. They have low utilization rates, web server box for database (T2) which has poor performance for Oracle and high license rates.

    In three years, Oracle comes back to renew the ELA and does in inventory. The customer finds out Oracle is not free...they just delayed the price of poor selection.

    People are not stupid, just sometimes uninformed.

    ==== January 2006

    "I sat down with Larry and said, 'Larry, you're killing us,'" McNealy said. "Part of the problem is we didn't have the fastest microprocessors, so you had to throw a lot of microprocessors at it. When you charge $30,000 per core, we ended up looking very expensive."

    "He said, 'You know, you're right.' I almost fell off my chair," McNealy said. "It's turned around 180 degrees for us. This is a big, big win. Larry Ellison basically lowered the cost of goods sold in one fell swoop."

    Sun's Oracle problem got worse with UltraSparc T1, which has eight processing cores. "We we had a $3,000 server, but it would have cost $240,000 for the Oracle licenses," McNealy said. Now Oracle only charges one-quarter the license fee for T1 cores. "It only costs $60,000 for a $3,000 server. That's progress!"

    ====> woops its back up to $240,000 for a $3,000 server

  8. Mike

    Blotting the ... wait a second?

    I think amanfromMars' comments are like those pictures that look like a plate of puke, but you stare at them for a while, and then a 3d sailboat pops out! And its like "now when I look at it I can't see the 3d picture. You just have to focus your eyes just right."

    Well, I've always thought his comments were garbage, but then it hit me -- per processor licensing is the 3d sailboat... What he's saying is... You just have to look past the comment, not at it...

    Oh the hell with it, I'm out of here.

  9. daniel

    a man from mars...

    is getting old fast...

  10. Dunstan Vavasour

    Licensing in the multi-core, multi-thread, virtualised world

    Ashlee, the worst of it is that Oracle is somewhat ahead of many other ISVs in addressing licensing in the changing landscape.

    Consider: Using a single Oracle instance in a single instance of Solaris, running directly on USIV+ metal. You have constrained Oracle so that it can only use four of the eight processor cores - so Oracle allow you to licence just these four cores. But when you get into using LDOMs, if you allocate 32 threads on a T5220, they may be from just four cores, or they might not be aligned, and therefore go across 5 cores. Or, if you remove and reinsert threads using DR, they may go across all eight cores.

    The hard fact is that per processor licensing doesn't work any more (which I think is the thrust of your article, despite the sensational headline), not only because of the multiple cores and multiple thread, but also because ISVs don't have suitable models for fractions of systems. This leaves end users and system integrators with two choices: consolidate their estate by function (so break out your databases into a database farm); or accept that you will end up with unconsolidated piddling little systems for the sole reason of containing licence costs from ISVs who haven't kept up. This is not environmentally friendly.

    Of course, the other solution is to use free (libre) software. Step forward the lead developers of both MySQL and PostgreSQL, in both cases employed by Sun.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leave the poor oracle folk alone!

    OK, I actually have a strange kind of sympathy for Oracle, god help me.

    The stockholders and analysts are always hungry for "growth" and oracle has really hit a wall with its products. It has pretty much done all the exciting new things you can do with the DB - performance, scalability, reliability, security (whoops, I vomited a little into my mouth there). It has branched out into pretty much all areas of the applications sphere. They dominate the marketplace just about as much as is realistically possible. Even their playboy-adventurer-CEO has ticked most of the extravagance boxes.

    In the meantime, SQL Server and DB2 continue to exist in defiance of Larry's express wishes. It used to be that all a potentate had to do was hint at the demise of a possibly turblent pest and a couple of loyal knights would put them to the sword - no such luck for Larry.

    On top of that, the cheapies and the freebies have grown to swallow a good part of Standard Edition's feature set and dont seem intent to stop there.

    So how does a business with a relatively stagnant product line, growing competition and a customer base quite reasonably, in the circumstances, expecting to pay LESS for the product each year, grow revenue?

    A long term view might look at the customer-cows (of which we are one) happily trotting back to the milking sheds each year, and think "Hmmm. Let us leave that be. Keep the cows content, the hands gentle and warm, and keep the milk flowing" and, maybe, diversify into plastics or the arms trade to keep the shareholders happy.

    A shorter term view might look at the risks of diversification and the agonizingly slow trickle of lactate from the foul customer-beasts and start thinking of imaginative, if cruel, new ways to drain their teat of its precious liquor.

    Over 15 years at the oracle dairy, we have felt the gentle caress, then the cold-handed grapple, then the rough squeeze, then the inhuman, cloying suction of the automatic milking machine. Now we find ourselves harnessed by the legs, force-fed, doped, and catheterised.

    A cynic might try to draw parallels between this pilgrims progress and the size of Larry's yachts but then they'd have to take one good look at "Rising Sun" and make some very disturbing predictions...

    Time to go find ourselves a nice, gentle, milkmaid with soft, warm hands and a "come hither" smile. The milking metaphor. i am referring to the milking metaphor. Dont go turning me into some sort of perv!

  12. amanfromMars Silver badge

    In IT, when West meets East ....Ill Repute is not Dishonoured,...

    ...IT is Elevated 42 Deliver Fair and Equitable Fortunes

    "Time to go find ourselves a nice, gentle, milkmaid with soft, warm hands and a "come hither" smile. The milking metaphor. i am referring to the milking metaphor. Dont go turning me into some sort of perv!"

    The other metaphor inclusive of the Rising Sun is probably definitely more enabling, and rewarding and satisfying, AC, and there's nothing even remotely pervy about it as it also makes for AI Perfect Bonding Agent. Hmmmm? Shake together Japan and ITs XXXXPertEase in Network InterNetworking RobotIQs, stir in a Hollywood sized Helping of Artificial Intelligence and a Vault of Swiss Chocolate into the Frey and hey Presto ...... ARGonauts on a Nobel Turing Quest and the End of the Beginning for a Virtually NeuReal Start.

    And a Pinging Dynasty with Waking Gentle Giants would be a Double Whammy of Outrageous Fortunes to All Boldly Going .......

    I wonder in which Direction, Larry is turning the Wheel, and on what Tack he hopes to Catch the Wind? Becalmed in the Doldrums of Intellectual Despair or Racing out of the Darkness, White Hatted Knight Championing A.N.Other Way?

  13. James Anderson

    Enterprise DB anyone?

    Why not just switch to Postgress in its Oracle compatable flavour.

    Now before anyone gets too excited I agree that for high end Terabyte databases expecting 100 plus transaction per second you have little choice its either Oracle or DB2 -- and swiching form one to the other is no choice at all as once you get past the SQL92 standard they are completely incompatable.

    But lots of systems were developed five to ten years ago which needed what was then high end hardware and database systems which are still running and will now run quite happily on modest hardware with an inexspensive database system.

    So rather than get dragged into the Enterprise license trap just lose a few licenses and only pay for Oracle on the systems that really really need it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Anyone seen Larrys new Yacht? And why would he want to lower licensing fees?

    How ironic that Larrys yacht, 2nd largest in the world, is called "Rising Sun".

    And you expect him to lower licensing costs to Sun customers? This is the biggest pot of gold by far...

  15. Larry Cumber

    Everyone pays for more power

    If you need more power for example "under the hood" then you pay more.

    So as Oracle has moved to Grid, with its Robustness, self-managing style, then what do we expect.. Lets see what happens when another Version comes out.

  16. Beelzeebub
    Gates Horns

    I give up

    Oracle are obviously more evil than me.

  17. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Dunnie & Mat Keep.

    "....Step forward the lead developers of both MySQL and PostgreSQL, in both cases employed by Sun...." Gee, are you implying Sun bought MySQL because they knew they were getting hammered in the Oracle market, and eaten from below by WIntel boxes running M$ SQL (<- the most common commercial database for a few years now)? Mind you, I think you'll find that Sun aren't doing the "goodness of my heart" freeware trip, seeing as they have announced plans to CHARGE for all the top end features you would need to replace an Oracle instance.....

    The IBM hardare and Oracle relationship is a funny backlash from the IBM software boys getting too friendly with non-IBM kit - the IBM server boys are none too happy about how happilly the IBM software boys have developed chummy relationships with vendors like HP (leading DB2 platform vendor, or so I'm told).

    Oh, and for Mat Keep, "....assuming RAC scales of course....", RAC scales very well on Red Hat Linux on Itanium, or hp-ux on Itanium, or Windows on Itanium, or OpenVMS on Itanium... spotted the pattern yet?

  18. gizmo

    @ Matt Bryant

    I think I have spotted the pattern. You are an Itanium salesdroid?

    Do I win?

  19. Aodhhan

    Greedy Oracle

    The licensing issue, horrible security and its scalabiltiy and speed is on par with other DB's.... makes me wonder why anyone purchases this POS and poor excuse for a databank.

    Thankfully, many of our application systems didn't nail us down to using Oracle. I'm not a great Microsoft soap box speaker, but when it comes to database applications, I will purchase SQL 2005/2008 over Oracle every time.

    If a application system only uses an Oracle DB, I dont consider it.

    Oracle is a lot like Sony. They aren't going to change as long as there are lazy and ignorant people who keep them in business.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    T2+ does nothing to support Oracle

    Sun has positioned the T5240 as a database server, but it does nothing to address the reason why it was never meant for databases. The Niagara chip can only run very light threads and requires applications to have many threads to show decent performance. Sun's changes to the Niagara chip actually made it worse for data serving applications. The T2 processor increased the threads sharing the core from four to eight and the T2+ removed two memory controllers from the chip.

    The T5240 is an extremely expensive two chip system with a $480,000 Oracle EE price tag. Sounds very similar to when they couldn't give the E10K's away for free for Oracle because of the poor performance/Oracle License.

    From Sun's own presentation:

    "Not So Positive Characteristics:

    - If one thread is thrashing the L1 instruction cache, data cache or TLB's on a core, it can adversely affect other threads on that core

    - If all threads run on the same core they are only gettin gone-quarter of the CPU time

    - So CMT is not ideal for real time applications

    Scaling issues to be aware of

    - Hot locks are the most common reason applications fail to scale on CMT processors

    - Tuning Critical Sections

    - Apply more threads as CMT is a thread rich environment"

    Yo Matt....word up......Mr Mo Jo Risin

  21. joe

    Baa baa

    Weather the T class is suitable for OTLP or db warehousing or even general database usage is quite irrelevant. The point made is a processor is a processor is a processor regardless of religion. If i want a 486 powered Oracle EE version thats my prerogative(Insanity ;-p ) but Oracle is charging 1/4 CPU LIC for this 1/2 for that and 3/4 for everything else. Oracle is dictating what platform you should run it on and not giving customers the choice, which is their right. So your choice dictated by Larry is Xenon based on the best licensing/performance scenario.

    Some of us are stuck with Oracle and for us, the captives, we should at least have right to choose what we run it on with a fair licensing scheme.

    Baa, this sheep is tired of being sheared. Wheres a wolf when you need him?

  22. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: gizmo

    Why is it that if you don't sing the Sunshine song then it's gotta be cos you are a competing vendor's salesgrunt? I know you Sunshiners sniff something "special" every day but you're going to have to accept that a lot of users just don't want your kit, and the longer you guys spend wriggling around looking for any feeble excuse to buy Sun when everyone else has already dropped them just keeps the rest of us laughing!

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