Oracle Plays Both Sides of the Mainframe/Distributed Divide

Regardless of whether customers opt for Linux-on-zSeries or choose to abandon the mainframe altogether, Oracle stands to benefit

Two unlikely partners joined together last week to promote Linux-on-zSeries. One of them was IBM Corp., which isn’t all that unlikely a Big Iron Linux booster, but the other—Oracle Corp.—was a surprise, in light of that vendor’s frequently frosty relationship with Big Blue.

That wasn’t the only partnership. Oracle joined with Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) to promote a “legacy” migration program.

The bottom line: Regardless of whether customers opt for Linux-on-zSeries or choose, instead, to abandon the mainframe altogether in favor of HP’s Itanium-powered Integrity systems, Oracle stands to benefit.

On the Big-Iron front, the database giant notched a sales and marketing agreement with IBM to push Oracle applications for Linux on System z. Oracle and Big Blue plan to target medium-sized and large enterprise customers and promise incentives of up to $250,000. IBM and Oracle plan to focus their efforts on Big Blue’s System z9 Enterprise Class (z9 EC) and IBM System z9 Business Class (z9 BC) servers, officials said.

"We see significant sales opportunity for Oracle's open-system solutions running on Linux on System z, and look forward to growing our sales efforts to capitalize on this opportunity," said Robert Shimp, vice president of Oracle’s Global Technology Business Unit, in a statement.

Modernizing the Mainframe

Apparently, Oracle also sees an opportunity to help usher wavering mainframe customers into distributed nirvana. The database giant partnership with HP unveiled a new “Application Modernization Initiative” promotion that bundles hardware, software, and services. The idea, officials say, is that customers can tap the AMI to modernize—that is, to migrate—their existing mainframe applications to Itanium-powered HP Integrity servers.

“Customers burdened with the maintenance and cost of their legacy mainframe applications have the support of three market-leading technology companies to assist in the modernization of their environments,” said HP senior vice-president of consulting and integration services John McCain. “With the underlying reference architecture in place, HP Services can systematically enable customers to efficiently transition to a standards-based environment.”

To that end, the AMI calls for HP and Oracle to first perform a detailed assessment of a customer’s mainframe software assets. This is followed by the prescription of a pre-defined and pre-tested replacement architecture based on HP Integrity servers, HP services and Oracle software—including Oracle 10g (with Real Application Clusters), Oracle Fusion Middleware, and Oracle Enterprise Manager/Grid Control.

Like Oracle’s Shimp—who identified a “significant sales opportunity” for Oracle on System z—John Gawkowski, vice president of platform technology solutions with Oracle, sees mostly upside in his company’s arrangement with HP.

“[W]e are able to give customers the confidence to finally address these expensive and inflexible legacy mainframe systems and get to a modern open-standards SOA-based solution,” according to Gawkowski.

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