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Monday, April 27, 2009

Microsoft may be a winner in Oracle-Sun deal

Microsoft Corp. has had few critics more vociferious than Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Sun Chairman Scott McNealy. So with Oracle planning to acquire Sun, Microsoft should be worried, right?

Not necessarily.

If Oracle retools itself as a full-fledged systems vendor, as Ellison suggested that it might, hardware makers such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. might cozy up more with Microsoft as a business partner.

HP and Oracle teamed up last year to roll out the jointly branded Database Machine and Exadata Storage Server, which combine Oracle's software and HP's ProLiant servers. Oracle is selling the systems, while HP handles delivery and services the hardware.

But Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote in a research note last week that HP "is likely to push alternatives to [Oracle] when possible, given that they are now direct competitors in the hardware space."

"The hardware business is king [for server vendors], and anything that threatens that becomes your mortal enemy," noted Miko Matsumura, a former Sun executive who is deputy chief technology officer at Software AG.

Some analysts expect Oracle to sell Sun's hardware business to a company such as Fujitsu Ltd., which makes Sparc-based systems. But Ellison, while not divulging any Sparc-related plans, said that the acquisition could enable Oracle to develop fully integrated systems.

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