This is a guest post from Larry Dignan of TechRepublic’s sister site ZDNet. You can follow Larry on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Oracle has officially came out of the corner to stem the defections from Sun Microsystems’ customers. The message: Oracle is serious about hardware and is looking forward to swinging back at IBM.

As pointed out by Matt Asay, Oracle has launched a full court press to convince Sun customers to stick around. Sun has been pummeled by IBM on server sales. Meanwhile, the EU is looking to drag out approval of Oracle’s purchase of Sun. Toss in question about whether Oracle will even keep Sun’s hardware business and you have a recipe for disaster.

Here’s that disaster (click to enlarge):

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has seen enough. Now we all know Ellison loves a fight-especially with IBM. Hell, Ellison may stay in hardware just to compete with Big Blue.

In a series of ads, Oracle says that it will spend more dough developing SPARC, develop Solaris and focus on hardware. To IBM, Ellison says Oracle is “in it to win it.”

In this ad, Oracle teases Oct. 14 at OpenWorld as a key date.

Oracle says:

Oracle and Sun together are hard to match. Just ask IBM. Its fastest server now runs an impressive 6 million TPC-C transactions, but on October 14 at Oracle OpenWorld, we’ll reveal the benchmark numbers that prove that even IBM DB2 running on IBM’s fastest hardware can’t match the speed and performance of Oracle Database on Sun systems. Check back on October 14 as we demonstrate Oracle’s commitment to Sun hardware and Sun SPARC.

Now you could dismiss this as banter designed to stem Sun defections, but Oracle has been true to its word. Oracle has said it wouldn’t kill off the products and customers of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel and hasn’t. Now that Ellison has thrown down the hardware gauntlet, maybe Oracle will stick with that too.

We’ll find out soon enough.