Gentle IBM? Surely not.
According to our sources, Sun's sales reps have been trying to deal with this situation ever since the T2 boxes came out last year. We understand that Sun is desperately trying to work out a more satisfying arrangement with Oracle.
At this point, just parity with the x86 world would seem nice. Sure, the T2 chips have eight cores and support for 64 threads, but, as you all know, Xeons and Opterons run awfully fast.
Warring over how a T2 should be priced versus a Xeon feels like an inane endeavor at this point. This isn't to say that Sun deserves special treatment. It's to say that all of the processor makers deserve some measure of consistency.
For its part, Sun appears unwilling to gripe in public about Oracle's slight. Both CEO Jonathan Schwartz and server chief John Fowler were silent on the matter when we polled them, and Sun's public relations team has declined to issue a canned statement.
If Oracle and Sun do enjoy a special relationship, we're struggling to find evidence of the love. Sun hopes that the T2+ chips will carry it into the database tier and expand the market for the hardware. Well, that's not going to happen with this kind of pricing structure.
And imagine what will occur next year when - and if - Sun finally rolls out the Rock family of chips. If ever there were a chip meant to run a database, this is it. The 16-core part can handle 32 threads and form servers which share unprecedented amounts of memory.
The funny thing about the Rock design is that you can easily argue it's really a four-core chip, since it divides into four, tidy segments each with additional processing units. Sun, however, wants the glory that comes with delivering a 16-core part. Such braggadocio will do little for Sun's customers multiplying all of those cores by a factor of .75.
As mentioned, IBM has a complex per processor licensing model too, although we must give the vendor credit for taking the whole thing more seriously than Oracle. IBM updates its licensing chart at speed to deal with the latest and greatest chips and seems to have a model that reflects reality better than Larry's shop.
For example, IBM prices its new Power6 chips on a 120 PVU (Processor Value Unit) rate, while older Power5 chips come in at 100 PVUs. So, jumping up to 5.0GHz costs you just a little bit extra. IBM is understandably taking care of its own hardware customers, while placating DB2 and middleware salesmen to a degree. IBM also breaks out the T1 and T2 pricing, so you see T1 systems on 30 PVUs and T2 boxes on 50 PVUs, just like Opterons and Xeons.
If there's a special relationship in play here, it may actually be between Sun and IBM. ®