Alternatives to Oracle Hardware Platforms – Part 1

This is the first part of a 2 part mini-series covering the transition clients are making from Oracle hardware platforms to more open source-based systems. This first blog will cover the demise of Oracle SPARC based systems running Solaris

Since the launch of LinuxONE in 2015 the industry is rife with the myth that continuing to invest in SPARC Solaris is more prudent than an investment in IBM LinuxONE. I speak to clients daily about how they are needing to digitally transform and re-factor their systems and the UNIX to Linux conversation looms large in a lot of these discussions. A key part of this is the virtual disappearance of SPARC Solaris systems from the market.  Oracle’s approach with their clients is also part of the discussion as Oracle’s pivot to the cloud is leading to a forced march on its client.

In my many conversations with clients numerous factors that go into clients’ infrastructure buying decisions, especially when you factor in the adoption of hybrid multi-cloud. I firmly believe that IBM LinuxONE is ultimately a more open, flexible, and future-oriented platform than either Oracle SPARC Solaris and I hope the comments in this blog will lead you to the same conclusion.

Strategic Imperatives

In the dynamic world of 2020, clients are making more rapid and urgent changes to their infrastructure and compute strategies. As part of this renewed focus companies are making strategic investments in many different areas to help drive their strategic imperatives, and technology platform choice is an ever-increasing thread in those decisions. Companies today are considering investments in:

  • Cloud, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud
  • Migrating from legacy UNIX systems to open source cloud-native applications
  • Containerized microservices
  • Digital transformation
  • Linux and Open Source

In the context of this decision-making framework, what sets IBM LinuxONE apart from legacy UNIX based Oracle SPARC Solaris systems is the platform’s ability to incorporate differentiated hardware and the powerful combination of Open Source. Let’s examine each platform in more detail.

The demise of a once-prominent UNIX vendor

For those new to the infrastructure competitive landscape, let’s take a few moments to reflect on history. In the late 1990’s and early 200O’s Sun Microsystems SPARC systems was a formidable competitor to many compute vendors in the marketplace and had a sizeable share of the UNIX market, they would have said at the time (and did, often) that they were the market leader. Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010, and soon after they began a rapid decline fall from grace. Today SPARC based Solaris systems lack many of the fundamental elements that make a platform viable strategic choice in the long term.

These Solaris weaknesses manifest themselves in the following areas:

  • Roadmap – while support is confirmed to 2034, this is a very different thing to the development of new feature function
  • Development team depth – how many people are still working on OS development at Oracle?
  • ISV ecosystem – which new ISV’s support Solaris by choice?
  • Cloud platform integration – Kubernetes anyone?
  • Open-source database support – are Mongo DB, Enterprise DB, PostgreSQL supported?
  • Open Source adoption – What is the community around Solaris?

Despite Oracle supporting Solaris until 2034 and Fujitsu finding long-tail ways to enhance the SPARC architecture, CIO’s and key decision-makers need to question the long-term validity of the Solaris operating system as a go-forward platform.

IBM LinuxONE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux

The powerful combination of IBM LinuxONE and the marketing leading Linux distribution from Red Hat is becoming the default choice for clients looking to migrate from legacy UNIX platforms. As clients look to transform away from legacy monolithic platforms where OS investment dried up years ago they are looking for new platforms that deliver on the mission-critical requirements of performance, availability, scalability, and security. LinuxONE is designed to deliver just this and when coupled with the Open Source ecosystem of Red Hat provides a winning combination for clients.

Key points to consider:

  • Linux is the fastest-growing Operating System and has been for years while legacy UNIX systems market share has dropped off a cliff. As the featured graphic shows, Linux has overtaken all other OS platforms out there including Windows. So much so that even on Azure Microsoft’s own cloud Linux is the prevalent platform.
  • When you run Oracle on LinuxONE you typically need a 10th of the number of cores that you do to run a comparable x86 based environment. This leads to significant savings in Oracle per-core licensing.
  • Oracle’s installed base on the LinuxONE chip architecture running Red Hat is large and loyal and has been a critical revenue stream for Oracle. In fact in may clients LinuxONE is the core of Oracle’s estate.
  • For the past 15 years+, Oracle has released versions of its software for LinuxONE, Exadata and x86 within weeks of each other. So clients can with confidence be on the latest version and all the rich features that come with the newest platform.
  • IBM LinuxONE has achieved the highest server reliability rankings when compared to all x86 servers according to ITIC’s 2020 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey. That same ITIC report found that security and data breaches are now the top cause of concern for clients. (This matches what I am hearing from clients daily). The ITIC report did not show any security breaches for LinuxONE and 18 in the last year for Oracle.

Which platform represents the better investment, and why? 

Given the strong interest in cloud, Linux, and open-source today, I believe IBM LinuxONE represents a better investment than Oracle SPARC Solaris. While existing SPARC Solaris customers may continue to invest in Oracle systems when they need replacement products or extra capacity while they plan a migration to another platform, IBM LinuxONE is a more robust investment for those looking toward a more open-source future. Migrating from legacy UNIX systems to Linux is a very viable option for clients that want to transform and modernize their infrastructure.

LinuxONE: The superior choice 

IBM LinuxONE is better aligned with the technology investment strategies companies need to make today than Oracle SPARC Solaris based systems. With Solaris no longer being developed clients are locked into a frozen platform at best, at worst they are locked in with no viable option but to re-platform. The flip side is that LinuxONE is an open source-based powerhouse and leverages industry-leading technology and the power of Linux.

As clients evaluate different technologies based on how well they align with their strategic imperatives many are finding IBM LinuxONE a superior option that will help them achieve a significantly better ROI and without the vendor lock-in. For anyone looking to migrate from legacy UNIX systems to Linux, LinuxONE is a proven mission-critical choice.

To find out more about LinuxONE go here.