Oracle and the open challenge

Oracle has spent billions consolidating its space, not just the big database software area but the application space.

Larry Ellison
I had trouble finding a relevant angle yesterday about Oracle's purchase of Seibel. (That's Oracle CEO Larry Ellison at left.)

Then I opened up my morning browser and found two vital points for discussion.

First, Oracle is now Microsoft. By that I mean they are in the same market position. In the last years Oracle has spent billions consolidating its space, not just the big database software area but the application space. Just as Microsoft has embraced-and-extended (some would say engulfed-and-devoured) its application niches, often by adding their capabilities into Windows, so Oracle has now essentially eaten its own young.

The story that got me thinking about this is Oracle's launch of a Windows version of its database. CEO Larry Ellison has called for consolidation for some time. Now he has it. And he has to live with it. (The final clue, of course, was hiring a middle-aged corporate executive as an "open source evangelist.")

Second, Salesforce is the threat. Not just Salesforce.Com per se, but the whole idea of Web services, is as much a threat to Oracle as Linux is to Microsoft. And the battle, as with Microsoft and Linux, is for scaled applications, the kind that big companies can trust as a service and dump their own iron for. I wrote earlier about open source CRM efforts as being little threat to Oracle among big iron owners, but if someone can make that big iron disappear now you're talking.

In both cases we're talking about trends that will take time to mature. But I think those trends are very much in evidence. They're the background to this deal.

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