“I was really surprised when Oracle bought Sun,” says NetApp Senior Manager Generosa Litton in an interview with Wikibon founder David Vellante on a SiliconAngle.tv  webcast from OracleWorld 2010. “I really expected Oracle to remain a pure software company. So now that they are into hardware as well, my crystal ball tells me they really do want to be the next IBM.”
Vellante, a well-known industry analyst, agrees. “I think your point is right on,” he said. “The Sun acquisition really is the biggest move in the industry in at least a decade. It really changed the landscape.”
It also made it clear that the trend is toward mega-vendors such as Oracle, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell who market unified stacks of products going from the hardware level through middleware and applications and up to a variety of services ranging from traditional consulting to cloud services.
“I think two things are clear,” he commented. “One is that Oracle wants to own the world, and second, it is clear that they cannot own the world.”
So where does that leave a relatively small, specialized vendor like NetApp. Litton and Vellante also agree on that – it needs to focus on what it does best that gives it market differentiation, in this case highly efficient storage.
“There are certain things we do that the Oracles won't be able to do because of the advanced R&D we have done and continue to do,” Litton said. “So I hope they [the mega-vendors] remain friendly to NetApp and the other small storage vendors and seek our expertise.”
NetApp traditionally has had a close relationship with Oracle, and for years used Oracle as a reference customer. “Oracle may have taken you off the reference customer list after buying Sun, which is understandable,” Vellante said, “but I'm sure there still is a lot of NetApp storage inside Oracle.”
Action Item: Vellante's advice for NetApp and the other small specialized vendors is “you should stay focused on best-of-breed products where you really excel” and work with the big stack providers.