Ed Zander Interviews Larry Ellison at Churchill Club

Posted on September 25, 2009

Ed Zander Interviews Larry Ellison at the Churchill Club on 9.21.09. I’m not seeing many people posting about this so I’m putting it out there. There are lots of rumors out there but this is the best info from the man himself. If you haven’t heard of the prestigious Churchill Club, it’s “Silicon Valley’s premier business and technology forum.” This is where the big wigs hobnob (and if you have some cash, should too).

This is must view material. Make some coffee, get comfortable and have a go.

    Here are just a small handful of select quotes:

  • “We are not going into the hardware business. We have no interest in the hardware business. We have a deep interest in the systems business.”
  • “We have no interest in competing with Dell, [ and the Windows on X86 market…] we’re very interested in running airline reservation systems, and we’re very interesting in running banking systems, and telecommunications systems, and that requires both hardware and software.”
  • “We are keeping everything! We are keeping tape, we are keeping storage, we are keeping x86 technology and SPARC technology, we’re going to increase the investment in it.”
  • “…Solaris is overwhelmingly the best open systems operating system on the planet.”
  • “MySQL and Oracle do not complete… at all!”
  • “I’d like IBM to explain what they meant when they said they took 250 customers away from Sun. I don’t think there is a single example of any Sun customer who’s replaced all of their machines with IBM computers.”
  • “Be clear Solaris is way better than AIX.
  • “Sun machines run faster than IBM machines and cost less”
  • “We wanna get it done to save as many jobs as we can!” (speaking of Sun loosing $100M per month while waiting for the EU decision)
  • “We are _not_ going to spin anything off.” (speaking of EU pressure to potentially spin off MySQL)
  • “We’ve been treating customers like computer hobbyists; go buy an operating systems, go buy some network switches and routers and..[…] We’ve been selling components.” (Speaking of the industry as a whole.)
  • “Cloud…. I mean, cloud is water vapor.”
  • “Cloud computing isn’t the future of computing, its also the past and the present.”
  • “…But its not water vapor, its just a computer connected to a network! What are you talking about!” (Hilarious, 47minutes in, must watch.)
  • “IBM is who we’re targeting, its who we feel we need to compete with to be successful ourselves.”
  • “We’re a big supporter of Linux, but the fact is that Solaris just a much more mature OS, its just a fact. We became a big supporter of Linux years ago because it ran on smaller and cheaper X86 processors and Solaris did not, we had no choice. […] So we are a supporter of Linux, but Solaris is a more mature operating system designed for bigger systems. We support both.” (1:17:00)

And many many more fantastic quotes, please forgive me if I got a word wrong here and there in the transcription above. Great praise for Solaris and SPARC technology and no signs that X86 is going to die. The worst I could come away with is that X86 isn’t going to go away but they aren’t going to compete in the commodity X86 market, so we may see a shift in those lines but by no means a retreat. Lets not forget that they are a big fan of the FISHworks Open Storage product and it relies on X86 systems. So I stick by my earlier guess that we’ll see some changes there and probably see the X86 line pruned slightly but not removed as, if nothing else, they’ll be components in larger systems offerings along side SPARC and storage.

Let me specially point out that John Fowler was the only Sun employee I heard mentioned by name. While Jonathan was whoring the company John (and many others) were hard at work and this hint that he’s not going anywhere makes me very very happy.

So I’m glad to see my earlier predictions continue to pan out. I think we are in for some painful changes but ultimately be headed in a better and more purposeful direction than we have been in a long time. In some ways I’m more hopeful about the future now than I have been in a long time, as far as management is concerned. The technology has continued improving at a fantastic rate despite management incompetence, and so a new management team up to the task of really driving the industry with it is very exciting. Taking IBM down? Now that’s a goal I can get behind and will really push the whole “company” hard with a much more purposeful direction; its the ambition we’ve been lacking and I think I like it.