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Oracle vs. VMware feud simmering

2009 was the year of Microsoft vs. VMware. Is 2010 shaping up to be the year of Oracle vs. VMware?

During yesterday’s five-hour Oracle-Sun press conference, Oracle’s chief corporate architect Edward Screven took aim at VMware: “VMware is integrated with nothing. It’s a point solution.”

Of course, that’s not entirely true. VMware integrates with lots of stuff, both hardware and software, but it’s usually other vendors making that other stuff. (The Cisco Unified Computing System is a prime example.) Judging by VMware’s longstanding dominance in the market, this is a strategy that has worked out pretty well for them.

Now that it has Sun’s virtualization and hardware assets, Oracle is taking a different approach: stressing the value of integrated management (with Oracle Enterprise Manager) and virtualization-specific hardware/software bundles, all from one vendor.

Alone, Oracle and Sun never had much success in virtualization. (When Screven touted Oracle VM as “the best virtualization solution for databases” yesterday, my colleague Bridget Botelho responded on Twitter: “Then why doesn’t anyone use it?”)

And they didn’t announce anything revolutionary yesterday that would immediately cause people to jump on the Oracle-Sun virtualization bandwagon. (Sounds like underwhelming press conferences was the theme of the day, eh, Steve Jobs?)

Clearly, Oracle needs to do more to become a major player. The whole trend of integrated hardware and software for virtualization is something the vendors are pushing; it’s not something a whole lot of customers want now.

Larry Ellison and his Oracle execs know they can’t take on VMware just by talking a good game. So they must have bigger plans in the works. Will they build Oracle VM up using the Virtual Iron technology they acquired last year? Or will they make an even bigger splash by acquiring Citrix?

VMware once enjoyed free reign of the market. Then along came Microsoft, the biggest software company in the world, which became a serious challenger in just a few short years. Now the third-biggest software company, Oracle, is making a similar move. Whatever happens, things are about to get very interesting.

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