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Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) will stop selling high-end data storage arrays from Hitachi Data Systems at the end of the month, according to a notice from HDS to its channel partners.
The announcement threatens to end a nine-year partnership between HDS and Sun Microsystems, which was acquired by Oracle in January, but Hitachi said the two will continue to work together in other ways.
"Hitachi Data Systems and Oracle agree that the time is right to evolve this relationship into one reflecting the priorities of both our companies," HDS said in a statement. "Hitachi Data Systems and Oracle are in active discussions to broaden its current relationship in many areas application integration and optimization is one example with many benefits to our customers. Our main priority is to ensure that we are working together to ensure that our customers are being fully supported during this time of transition, and we are both committed to providing the exceptional service both our companies are known for in the marketplace. We look forward to sharing more details on our expanded relationship in the coming months."
Oracle said in late January that it is focused on the Sun 7000 Open Storage systems and the ZFS file system, along with Sun's tape storage business, leaving unanswered questions about some Sun partnerships and products.
Sun's strategy of combining open source software with commodity hardware revitalized its data storage business, a turnaround acknowledged by Oracle in its embrace of the 7000 series and ZFS.
Analyst Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech wrote in a research note today that he thinks Oracle may need to find a high-end replacement for Hitachi's USP-V systems and he cited EMC (NYSE: EMC) and 3Par (NYSE: PAR) as possible partners.
"[W]e think the chances are high they look to partner down the road, as the [Sun] storage assets don't provide for a high-end SAN solution. ... It is our view, if ORCL selects another enterprise storage partner (specifically for the now missing high-end SAN slot) as opposed to trying to develop it internally, EMC and PAR are the likely vendors of choice considering IBM is public enemy #1 for ORCL."
Another Sun-Oracle storage partnership that is rumored to be under scrutiny is the company's relationship with LSI (NYSE: LSI), which provides a small percentage of LSI's revenues compared to the outsized contributions from IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Seagate (NASDAQ: STX). When asked about the future of its relationship with Oracle, an LSI spokesperson said the company "does not comment on rumors or speculation."
Another Sun storage technology that could face scrutiny is the open source QFS file system, which was already taking a back seat to ZFS at Sun before the merger.
Asked about its plans for QFS, an Oracle spokesperson referred a reporter to a video of Sun Storage vice president Mike Shapiro that emphasizes Oracle's plans for ZFS, but the accompanying slides also mention QFS and the Lustre clustered file system as technologies that remain under development. Interestingly, Shapiro also mentions the LSI-OEMed Sun Storage 6780, so LSI may fit into Oracle's plans after all.
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