Oracle Under Fire: Systems and Strategies Questioned

Oracle under fire? Come join the debate.

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.