Last week IBM announced a new range of integrated systems for large-scale data analysis, mounting a fresh challenge to rival Oracle's Exadata platform.
The offerings include the pureScale Application System as well as Smart Analytics systems for System z mainframe computers and x86 machines.
IBM hopes to enlist the help of business partners that worked with Sun Microsystems, which was purchased by Oracle this year, to sell the new products. Its financial arm is pledging up to US$500 million in financing to "help credit-qualified Sun Business Partners migrate towards the resale of IBM systems".
The systems can handle "enormous amounts" of data and feature "deep compression capabilities" that can cut storage needs by up to 80 percent, according to IBM.
The pureScale product is aimed at transaction processing requirements, such as a smart utility grid, IBM says. It is composed of POWER7 servers, the WebSphere application server and IBM's DB2 pureScale software.
Meanwhile, the Smart Analytics offerings are aimed more at the BI (business intelligence) end of the spectrum. They include versions for System z mainframes and System x servers, and have integrated Cognos BI and InfoSphere data warehousing software.
There is no question IBM's announcements are "a direct attack on Oracle-Sun," says analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "Exadata is so central to Oracle/Sun that you can't aim at Oracle/Sun without shooting at Exadata."
Regarding IBM's move, "it doesn't sound as if there is a lot of new technology there," Monash says. "One possible exception is enhanced compression. DBMS vendors that are compression laggards have been working hard to improve, and maybe it is IBM's turn now."