Oracle, Sun tout alliance, slam rivals

Two of Silicon Valley's leading players, Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., pledged a renewal of their on-again, off-again alliance Tuesday, while taking shots at common rivals such as Microsoft Corp. and IBM.

Oracle said it will support Sun's Java programming language by licensing it for another 10 years. 'We can't emphasize how important Java is to Oracle,' said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in a 'town hall' meeting at Oracle's Redwood Shores, Calif., campus. 'Our entire middeware strategy, J2EE, is based on Java, so much so that we are rewriting all of our business applications in Java.'

In return, Sun plans to bundle Oracle's enterprise database on midrange or high-end servers running its UltraSparc IV processors and UltraSparc IV+ processors for free to customers that sign up for a year's service contract from Oracle.

Sun has long claimed that more Oracle databases run on Solaris than any other operating system, including Linux. Sun CEO Scott McNealy said customers will benefit by getting a product bundle that is 25% less expensive and ready to go out of the box. 'There's no need for you to call IBM Global Services,' he said.

The long-term commitment by Oracle to Java could boost mind share for the flagging develoment platform. Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT Inc. in Hayward, Calif., said Java's struggles are partly because Sun still declines to release Java's source code open-source.

'When Sun said it would open-source Solaris [its Unix operating system], people on the sidelines were saying, 'Forget Solaris; open-source Java for God's sake!'' King said. 'When a vendor ignores the needs or demands of the developers it's working with, they'll go elsewhere. But as long as [Sun] can get sign-on from partners like Oracle, Java remains a viable business.'