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Night of the Living Dead: Will Oracle buying Sun Raise the Specter of “Network Computing” Again?

By Daryl Plummer | April 20, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Today, Oracle announced plans to acquire Sun Microsystems. Gartner is in the process of generating an official position on what this means. You’re going to want to see what we have to say since there will be multiple pieces dissecting this acquisition announcement.

However, in the here and now, it occurred to me, after listening to the initial vague analyst call on this announcement, that an interesting scenario could emerge – the rebirth of “Network Computing.”

Most people today seem to assume that Cloud Computing is just the new name for network computing. But Gartner is building a position on this that takes into account several “what if” factors:

What if: Sun allowed Oracle to create an application strategy that used cloud appliances to be delivered?

What if: Sun’s x86 strategy could be reborn as a network computing client and server set for wrapping Oracle applications?

What if: Larry said “I told you so” about Network Computing and decided that now was the time to modernize the strategy and make cloud computing a core competency?

What if: Sun’s innovative research on usage-based pricing and grid-based systems to go with it were the door through which Oracle could eclipse both IBM and SAP?

What if, indeed. For answers to these and other questions about this acquisition, you gotta go see our First Takes and research on the topic – or just call me.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away, Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy used to talk incessantly about the ideas behind network computing. Well, to be honest, Ellison talked more about Network Computers than network computing but still, the point was that small dedicated network machines could be used to access a whole world of online resources and services. Cloud computing is the way that is described today, and Scott and Larry can recapture the glory of past ambitions. If they are smart, that’s a pretty good opportunity for two guys who had been lagging behind in a discussion that they were leading just 12 years ago.

My how things can change.

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  • The problem with it was of course that neither Sun or Oracle know squat about the client side.

    Sure thin clients are good for management and the enterprise, but for the end user, barf city. Leveraging Gartner’s own research about the consumerization of IT (dont you hate it when I do that), the bar is set higher.

    Sun has always borked every opportunity to present an end user experience. They dont know the client like Apple, Adobe, and to a lesser extent Microsoft.

    If the “web client” has commoditized enough as a function of Mozilla, perhaps the enterprise is ready for this. But it better cost a hell of a lot less than $500 which was the “magic price point” for the network computer!!!!


    my 2 cents,

  • Miko,
    You are correct on all fronts. But I think the one thing that you did not take into account was the “server-side appliance” angle. Oracle does not need a wildly successful client strategy in order to deliver on a very flexible appliance deployment of some of its appications. They can do that now. Will it be price competitive? Who knows. But it does open the door.