Oracle Under Fire: Systems and Strategies Questioned

Oracle Under Fire: Systems and Strategies Questioned

Summary: Oracle under fire? Come join the debate.

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TOPICS: Oracle, CXO
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Later today: 11 am PT, 2pm ET, 6pm GMT, 7pm CET I will be leading a live webcast on TechRepublic with the above title. From the blurbs:

The world's second largest software company is getting some unwanted attention from users and analysts. First came concerns about its engineered systems and database businesses and then some of its business strategies and then came a financial downgrade based primarily on those challenges. But are the systems and database concerns justified and how is Oracle responding to the challenge?

I have been unashamed in my criticism of Oracle.

The company defies economic gravity by continuing (mostly) to post ever stronger results. Wall Street (mostly) loves them. The company is laser focused on delivering results the Street wants to hear.

In the background however, things do not look as rosy as they appear. I am one of a very small handful of commenters who genuinely believes that Oracle is in for a mighty fall from grace. There are numerous contributing factors some of which are:

  • Excessive force in account control. Customers consistently tell me they dislike the way Oracle strong arms them into ever increased cost.
  • Timidity over putting Oracle Fusion onto any cloud let alone the public cloud. The last executive who was asked about this topic looked like he had been electrocuted. He palmed the answer off to PR, which had nothing useful to say.
  • An integrated appliance, database and apps strategy that should work but isn't and won't. Sales of hardware are cratering but the reality stretches back to understanding the business model - lock in of a kind that echoes back to the time of Tom Watson's IBM. It is the antithesis of the open world.
  • Where is the obvious succession plan for Larry Ellison, CEO? There's only one lion in this particular cage and everyone knows who to follow but what happens when he passes the reins as he inevitably must do?

There is a flip side.

  • Oracle DBAs are fiercely loyal to a solution they see as infinitely flexible, malleable and elegant. Can those folk be kept on board forever?
  • SAP remains one of Oracle's biggest database resellers. But for how long?
  • Fusion provides one of the best user experiences of any enterprise software vendor. But underneath the covers and it is a rat's nest of complexity. Can Oracle simplify the landscape in time to make it a world class winner?
  • Larry Ellison, is a fierce competitor, possibly the fiercest in all of IT. He will do whatever it takes to keep his company on track.

Perhaps the Art of War is about to bite Oracle in ways it never anticipated. I will be debating these points and others raised in the chat. Whatever your position, come join the webcast. It should be interesting.

Topics: Oracle, CXO

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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5 comments
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  • Agreed...

    On all points. Oracle is like a vampire. They suck the life out of companies with their required support fees on everything. They probably require support fees for the bathroom amenities they use. :-)
    They aren't far from the endless sucking that MS does of businesses. They're like the mafia, once you get in, it's almost impossible to get out.
    On the brighter side of things, I love their database and all of their products that I have used over the years. I just wish that Wall Street would give them their due. Maybe one day...
    rpollard1
    • That sums it up...

      Now - if only Oracle merged with MS and Apple - that way i'd only have to remember one name to avoid. :-P
      vgrig
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    stevehawk
  • Fundamental principles are more important than companies or products

    "???Oracle DBAs are fiercely loyal to a solution they see as infinitely flexible, malleable and elegant. Can those folk be kept on board forever?"

    It is the relational model that is flexible, consistent and elegant - not Oracle. SQL does not conform to the model. You can work with a SQL-DBMS as if it is relational, but it is much harder work than it should be. The good DBAs (Oracle or otherwise) understand this, but sadly many don't and they are missing out on some really exciting stuff.

    You could see Oracle as the principle reason why many people believe RDBMSs to be complicated things (though other RDBMS vendors - and open source providers - are not blameless).

    However as Oracle are the largest supplier and were instrumental (together with IBM) in making SQL the standard they must bear a large burden of the blame.
    jorwell
  • They need to get the PeopleSoft etc customers onto Oracle DBMS

    This is the right answer to the problem, not some "DBMS agnostic" layer like Fusion Middleware.

    At present, due to the acquisitions (PeopleSoft, J. D. Edwards, Siebel) Oracle is a reseller of MS SQL Server - this strikes me as absurd.

    I think some Oracle DBAs have an exaggerated opinion of Oracle's qualities as a SQL-DBMS. There is some good stuff in there (RAC, historical data management) but also some things that are not really acceptable in a modern product (30 character limit on table names most prominently). At least with 11g you can finally configure Oracle to be case-insensitive - long overdue.
    jorwell