Does Oracle have a demographics problem?

Does Oracle have a demographics problem?

Summary: Oracle likes to hire people in their late twenties or early thirties who combineattitude with some sales skills, but do you know anyone in that age bracketwho doesn't work for Oracle and nevertheless favors the company's databaseproducts? I don't.

TOPICS: Oracle
In looking at database options for a client I'm struck by the age gap Oracle seems to face. Is it just my imagination and small sample, or does Oracle have a demographics problem?

Oracle likes to hire people in their late twenties or early thirties who combine attitude with some sales skills, but do you know anyone in that age bracket who doesn't work for Oracle and nevertheless favors the company's database products? I don't.

People know what they learn first, and then fight to maintain the value of that knowledge - that's a key reason we do so many foolish things in IT: the technology evolves much faster than skillsets. As a result people act as a brake on change, trying to force whatever the new thing is into the mold set by whatever extinct technology they learned to work with first. That's why so many of today's middle managers, who learnt their craft in the nineties and report to people who learned theirs in the seventies and eighties, spend so much of the shareholder's time and money applying ideas and technologies that are long past their best before dates.

That can work for some sellers. IBM, for example, gets most of its revenues from people whose work experience in IT came in intensely hierarchical mainframe environments where the company's imprimatur guaranteed professional acceptance and promotability. I don't think it's working for Oracle. My theory is that by promoting the young and the driven over the technically competent it has cut itself off from new computer science graduates and other technical types who like a technology for what it does, and therefore gets no support from people who didn't get their defining systems experience in the late eighties or early ninties.

I imagine Oracle has some research on this, but it's not available to me and I don't know, therefore, whether the group I was with might not have been peculiar in some way - but the argument hangs together and I'm inclined to leave it on the flagpole until someone tells me different. If it's true, of course, it's bad news for Oracle - and good news for open source because the absence of Oracle from the suggestion list let the group I was with split into two camps: the predictable Microsoft bigots and the free thinkers who suggested we look at PostGresSQL, mySQL, Firebird, even BerkeleyDB --all open source.

Topic: Oracle

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  • The usual reminder

    That the proper alternative to Oracle is a DBMS that implements the relational model faithfully. As all the necessary knowledge is in the public domain it seems an admirable project for open source.
  • Nice

    "...the predictable Microsoft bigots and the free thinkers..."

    So no one who prefers SQL Server can be anything but a Microsoft bigot? And absolutely no free thinkers would ever like SQL Server?

    Nice unbiased blog there.

    Carl Rapson
    • The free thinkers aren't very free

      Ted Codd at IBM develops a brilliant theory. IBM implements it in a deeply flawed way (SQL). Oracle popularises this flawed implementation. Microsoft gives us a cheaper version of the same mistakes. The "free thinkers" get really radical and give us an even cheaper version of the same errors. But maybe Paul means "free" in the sense of without cost rather than in the sense of intellectual freedom or the ability to think against the grain :-)?
    • Well, that's experience for you

      Yes. (well, at least when the choice isn't constrained by compatibility issues with respect to other software or with respect to skills).
      • I'm reminded...

        ...of the scene in 'Two Weeks Notice':

        "You're the most selfish person on the planet."

        "That's just silly. Have you met everyone on the planet?"

        Absolutes, especially when dealing with people, are NEVER true. Unless you've met every single person who uses database software, there's no way you can correctly state categorically that all SQL Server users are 'Microsoft bigots' (and of lesser skill) and all non-SQL Server users are 'free thinkers' (and of greater skill). While I realize this blog is an opinion piece, such stereotyping calls into question any assertions you may make.

        Carl Rapson
        • I guess Paul used a very small sample

          Given that every large scale project I know of is using Oracle.
  • Mr. Experienced

    As someone who started in the seventies - and continues to learn in the noughties - I'm a little miffed by your assertion that those with experience are an automatic brake on the adoption of innovation.

    It is true that a sizeable minority use experience as an excuse to parade their bigotry - and such people do, indeed, act as a brake.

    However, I would say that the majority of ICT people are smarter than that. Most of us have the skill to extract real lessons from experience - and to use those lessons to better introduce innovation.

    By the way, I have seen innovation introduced by the inexperienced - it is not a pretty sight.
    Stephen Wheeler
    • Exactly

      "Innovation" produced by the inexperienced is usually old ideas dressed up with new names.
    • Oh yeah, ain't that the truth

      Of course - and please don't misunderstand I'm not singing a hymn to inexperience here (if there's anything more dangerous than a boss reading an inflight magazine, I've never seen it...)
  • Times Ten

    Oracle has always been active in innovation. It has always been active in integration while continuing to build on it's huge engine. The TimesTen acquisition seems to be an inovative step in the right direction. A strong extensive back end with real time data management.

    Paul's statement may be true for the past. But todays market demands innovative people with inovative solutions. If Oracle needs to adjust it's demograph it will acquistion it and hang on to the wisdom it has.

    Oracle seems to be on everyones team and was the first commercle data base to take on Linux. It also supports Java and maintains a long integration relationship with Windows.

    As for your groups Option, pick the best option to fit the need. Having an open source option is awesome. But Oracle has a leverage when it comes to grid power.
    • An interesting question -anyone know?

      I'll check into this RSN but off the top of my head the first widely sold RDBMS I used on Linux was Informix and the first one available free for developer use was Sybase, wasn't it?

      That's what i remember, but it's worth checking into because it's an interesting question. Anyone have a clear (supportable) chronology?
    • Ten times the price

      Of course if Oracle were to build an effective table caching strategy into their core product then Times Ten would be rendered completely unnecessary.

      But then Oracle wouldn't be able to sell you an additional product (at additional cost ) to solve performance problems.

      With the additional product comes of course additional and unnecessary complexity. You then need more expensive consultancy from Oracle to deal with the complexity.

      One has to admire Oracle's business strategy but I don't think the customer benefits much. And innovative? No, not at all.
  • going by age - you are definitly outdated

    1) I quote "split into two camps: the predictable Microsoft bigots and the free thinkers who suggested we look at PostGresSQL, mySQL, Firebird, even BerkeleyDB ?all open source."

    What makes one think that all open thinkers equates to open source. Obviously u have a closed mind with a preconceived notion arrived by jumping to conclusions.

    2) I quote "cut itself off from new computer science graduates and other technical types who like a technology for what it does"
    Most new computer science graduates need a certain amount of experience to achive a level of maturity and be very productive and by the time they reach this level they are 28-32. I dont think most just out of college kids are all that productive. Makes me wonder if you've every worked in the industry (not as a writer but as a programmer, sales etc).

    3) I quote "the predictable Microsoft bigots"
    From your comments you like many others are open source bigots.
    • True to some extent

      But hey, lets give Paul a brake here. It's just a question being asked. I also didn't think he was writing this as fact written in stone. However, I like you wouldn't trust a green horn as far as I could throw one. But I really look up to some of the old timers like Ken Thompson, Billy Joy, and others. Oh yeah and Paul Murphy too :)

      We should focus on the technology at hand give up on the bigot wars, it really makes no sense. In fact we have some grave security issues today. I'd be willing to bet that at least 60% of that is accounted to poor administration.

      Open source and proprietary volumes hold a wealth of accounting information. Bigots are uneducated in the field. They don't patch and update. They don't read logs or scan ports. They don't know what nessus or snort is. WYSIWYG clickers.
    • Neither MS or Open Source are innovative

      MS got their DBMS originally from Sybase.

      The Open Source products are like emulations of existing proprietary products and offer nothing new. Indeed with MySQL one gets a very strong impression they started out copying existing products without having the slightest idea about relational theory. It is only after having received some very strong criticism that they seem to have bucked their ideas up a bit, but after some of their management's earlier statements: "referential integrity is not important" I must say I don't trust them at all and don't believe they know what they are doing.

      About the new graduates I think the standard of tuition on relational fundamentals seems to be in terminal decline in the universities so I am not entirely sure what use a new graduate might be to a company like Oracle.
      • Not that Oracle are any better by the way

        Both Oracle and Microsoft undoubtedly have some very gifted people working in their DBMS design and development teams.

        However they are always having to devote extensive resources to the latest fad the lunatic running their particular asylum has suddenly got excited about. ("Bill says we have to integrate with .NET!", "Larry wants us to have an OODBMS!).

        This makes the likelyhood of any innovation coming out of either company in the data management area highly unlikely.