IBM exec mocks Oracle's Exadata, Exalogic integration

"It's easy to throw a lot of stuff into a crate, ship it as one thing and say it's an integrated product," said IBM honcho Steve Mills.

IBM executive Steve Mills knocked Oracle's Exadata and Exalogic line of hardware, questioned the integration work and said the systems could lead to vendor lock-in.

Mills, group executive of IBM's software and systems unit, made the remarks at a Barclays Capital investment conference. Big Blue obviously has a few horses in the hardware appliance and integrated system race, but Mills did raise some valid points about what technology buyers need to consider.

Steve Mills: Not a big Oracle Exadata, Exalogic fan.

Steve Mills: Not a big Oracle Exadata, Exalogic fan.

According to Mills, there are "true appliance type products" from the likes of IBM CastIron, F5 and Riverbed. Then there are packaged systems like IBM's Netezza, the vBlock partnership with Cisco, VMware and EMC and Oracle’s Exadata and Exalogic.

"It's easy to throw a lot of stuff into a crate, ship it as one thing and say it's an integrated product," said Mills.

Mills added that Netezza is customized in the lab and then Avnet, a partner, specifically customizes the system for the end customer. The Vblock partnership takes a similar approach. Oracle simply isn't as integrated, said Mills.

"An Exadata box is about a week's worth of work to get it up and running properly," said Mills. "Exalogic just doesn't really work."

The integrated system game has a number of nuances, said Mills. "Vendors want to keep playing around to put things together for faster time to value. Customers want faster time to value, but may not want to pay for it. Customers don't want to give the vendor pricing power and are worried about lock-in. Customers may also want to use the system in a different way than the vendor intended," said Mills. "Am I stuck with the way the vendor configured it?"

Other points from Mills' talk:

  • IBM's acquisition strategy revolves around "modest sized players" that can bring technology to specific verticals. "We are really looking at what customers are doing and their areas of interest," said Mills. For instance, if banks are trying to dial down risk, IBM will look for risk assessment technologies.
  • Mills argued that Watson is really a mashup of a lot of key enterprise trends such as big data, Hadoop and in-memory technology.
  • The mainframe product cycle is changing for IBM due to increased adoption and Linux-only systems.
  • IBM is obviously "watching the economic situation in Europe closely," said Mills. The economic turmoil in Europe doesn't mean government budgets will disappear. He said there will still be money for smart city projects for instance. "There's still an opportunity in government," said Mills. Governments will continue to look at technology as a way to reduce labor costs. "[Governments] will go for technology ahead of labor," said Mills.