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By | Joe Fay 8th May 2009 12:34

Larry Ellison: SPARC buy means we're just like Apple

Pledges heart to Sun hardware in canned Q&A

Larry Ellison promised to hang onto Sun's hardware business yesterday, saying he wanted Oracle to be like Apple and Cisco.

The firm filed a canned interview with Ellison with the SEC yesterday, in which he said "we're definitely not going to exit the hardware business."

Ellison told Reuters via email that while most hardware businesses were low-margin, Apple and Cisco "enjoy very high-margins because they do a good job of designing their hardware and software to work together."

He shrugged off suggestions that Oracle didn't have experience designing integrated hardware and software, pointing out that the firm had designed its own Exadata database machine.

Oracle would stick with the SPARC architecture, he said, pointing out that "even Apple is designing its own chips these days". He insisted that "SPARC is much more energy efficient than Intel while delivering the same performance on a per socket basis", and that SPARC systems were less expensive to run than Intel machines.

The combined firm would reinvigorate the SPARC design he said, and enable SPARC Solaris open-system mainframes and servers to challenge IBM’s dominance in the data centre.

"Sun was very successful for a very long time selling computer systems based on the SPARC chip and the Solaris operating system. Now, with the added power of integrated Oracle software, we think they can be again."

Outside of the SPARC business, Ellison said Oracle planned to hang onto Sun's other hardware businesses, continuing to design products for the disk and tape storage markets.

The interview may go some way to reassuring nervous SPARC customers, not to mention nervous Sun workers. At the same time, actions will speak louder than words, and until Oracle delivers new kit, owners of dying Sun boxes could still be easy prey for the likes of IBM. ®

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