Call it a case of Back to the Future in the IT channel. Oracle claims to be rallying partners around the classic (but upgraded and overhauled) hardware-software combination of SPARC/Solaris. Indeed, Oracle says nearly 500 partners have sold SPARC T4 servers running Oracle Solaris 11. That's an impressive figure, but Oracle's hardware business continues to face an uphill battle against rivals. Here's the update.

In a prepared statement, Oracle offered numerous bullet-point updates linking channel partners to recent SPARC T4/Solaris 11 sales. Oracle's most telling anecdotes:
  • To date, Oracle’s SPARC T4 Servers have been sold by nearly 500 partners globally.
  • Partners and customers are moving rapidly to Oracle Solaris 11, which is being deployed even faster than Oracle Solaris 10.
  • Over 300 partners globally have the SPARC T-Series Specialization, nearly 900 partners globally are Specialized on Oracle Solaris and the Oracle Solaris Knowledge Zone includes over 65,000 members.
  • Oracle will soon provide a lab running SPARC in a secure cloud environment on Oracle Solaris 11, enabling ISV partners to test and validate their applications quickly and easily.
Meanwhile, Oracle continues to evangelize its engineered systems strategy. During the recent Oracle Industry Analyst World conference in Redwood Shores, Calif., Group VP of Product Marketing Bob Shimp told attendees that Oracle is spending $5 billion in R&D to simplify the IT experience for customers.

In March 2012, Oracle delivered an upside Q3 2012 earnings surprise that impressed Wall Street. Hardware revenue for engineered systems rose 139 percent in the quarter. But overall hardware systems products revenues fell 16 percent to $869 million.

Can Oracle partners, promoting SPARC T4 and Solaris 11, give Oracle an overall growth story in the hardware market? Hmmm...