Is Oracle's silence on its on-premises servers cause for concern?

Oracle was disturbingly quiet about its Exadata and Exalogix on-premises servers at the recent OpenWorld. But IDC's Ashish Nadkarni says not to worry yet.

Is Oracle's silence on its on-premises servers cause for concern?
Stephen Lawson

When Oracle consumed Sun Microsystems in January 2010, founder Larry Ellison promised new hiring and new investment in the hardware line, plus a plan to offer fully integrated, turnkey systems.

By and large, he kept that promise. Oracle dispensed with the commodity server market in favor of high-end, decked-out servers such as Exadata and Exalogic fully loaded with Oracle software, which included Java.

Earlier this year, word leaked that the company had gutted its Solaris Unix and Sparc processor development, but after eight years of spinning its wheels, no one could say Oracle had been impatient. It had invested rather heavily in Sparc for a long time, but the writing was on the wall.

So, one would think there would be some kind of server news coming out of the just-completed OpenWorld conference, but it was all cloud news. Among Ellison’s announcement in his keynote was the availability of bare-metal cloud hosting on AMD Epyc processors, which is hardly a surprise.

Bare-metal hosting is in Oracle’s best interests because it is ideal for lift and shift migrations from on-premises installations to the cloud. Just move your Linux environment running Oracle software to their data centers, and you don’t have to worry about managing the hardware any more.

Oracle quiet about its Exadata and Exalogic on-premises solutions

But for Exadata and Exalogic, the on-premises solutions, there was not a peep. Not even news of servers with Epyc, which would make sense given it’s a cloud option. It seemed odd to see Ellison praising Epyc as a cloud solution, but not say a word about being able to buy one for your data center.

For its part, Oracle said the focus of the show was on cloud and “that doesn’t mean we’re moving away from on prem,” said a spokesperson for the company. The company remains committed to on-premises hardware and typically times announcements around Intel Xeon processor releases. New Xeons are due next year, so stay tuned, I was told.

So, should Oracle hardware customers be concerned? Not just yet, said Ashish Nadkarni, program director for computing platforms at IDC.

“As a company, they seem to be focused less and less on hardware. It’s one thing to be a hardware provider with your own metal. They are pivoting toward Linux as a cloud OS, but you could argue Linux runs on anything,” he told me.

“They have a substantial chunk of integrated converged appliances market, so it would be foolish to walk away from it and I don’t think they are planning to, either,” he added.

What Oracle needs to do is come out and articulate what they want to do long term because right now they are not doing it, and that will only hurt the sales pitch for on-premises hardware.

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