Ellison rips IBM, shows off Sun-Oracle benchmarks, offers $10M prize

On Sunday night Larry Ellison took the stage at his annual event, Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, and came out swinging like a samurai warrior with a newly-sharpened sword. His main target: IBM.

On Sunday night Larry Ellison took the stage at his annual event, Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, and came out swinging like a samurai warrior with a newly-sharpened sword.  His main target: IBM.

Ellison (right) told a capacity crowd of thousands of IT professionals that IBM has been running a campaign called "Sunset" in which it has been telling Sun customers that Oracle is going to get out of the hardware business and therefore customers should start moving their software over to IBM servers.

Ellison attacked this idea. "We are not selling the hardware business," he said. "No part of the hardware business are we selling."

Then he actually displayed some of IBM's own ads - a bold and highly unconventional move since it gives IBM free attention - before ripping them to shreds. Without going into the gory details, Ellison basically said IBM deploys more servers than necessary, that IBM servers are power hogs (even though IBM talks a big game about being energy-friendly), and that a Sun-Oracle combination runs circles around IBM in performance.

Ellison showed off a new benchmark that reported:

  • Sun-Oracle server configuration used 8x less hardware than IBM (in this comparison)
  • Sun-Oracle server config ran 26% faster than IBM
  • Sun-Oracle server config consumed 4x less energy than IBM
  • Sun-Oracle server config had 16x better response time than IBM (1.22 seconds for IBM vs. 0.08 for Sun-Oracle)

I'm always wary of these types of benchmarks because they usually involve one company's systems being highly-tuned and then comparing them to a competitor's standard configuration. Nevertheless, Ellison said that he is so confident that this comparison will hold up that he's launching a new program in which Oracle will pay customers $10 million if a Sun-Oracle configuration isn't at least twice as fast as a comparable IBM solution.

Ellison also gave a parting shot to IBM's eco-friendly "smarter world" campaign. He said, "I don't know what building a smarter world means. We're going to focus on building smarter computers."

He also implied that IBM was being hypocritical since its servers looked like energy hogs in the recent benchmark. "Sun's processor is called SPARC... IBM's processor is called Power. Now we know why," quipped Ellison.

The combative rhetoric against IBM shows that Ellison is seriously worried about losing Sun customers while the Oracle-Sun deal awaits regulatory approval. In September Ellison told the Churchill Club that Sun is losing $100 million a month while they wait.

Here are some other notable Ellison quotes from the keynote:

  • "There are limits to how far you can go if you just do software."
  • "Whatever you think of Apple, I think they've done a great job of tackling the hardware problem while tackling the software problem."
  • The goal of a combined Oracle-Sun will be to "integrate hardware and software and deliver revolutionary systems."
  • "Solaris is the number one enterprise operating system in the world."
  • "We're going to spend more, not less, on MySQL... We're going to increase our contribution."


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