What Oracle wants

Control of the customer is all. Anything that falls to another vendor is waste, a profit leak to be plugged.

Oracle wants to own its ecosystem.

On the surface it's a reasonable request. The technology history of the last decade is filled with companies trying to directly control the hardware, software, and actions of their customers. This is at the heart of Microsoft's strategy, of IBM's, of HP's, of the phone carriers'.

What's wrong with it?

It's the strategy of a consolidating, slowing, failing industry. It's the process that gave us Coke and Pepsi, Budweiser and Miller, WalMart and Target. It's a natural business process, but it's not what technology should be about.

Technology should be about rapid growth, about carving grand new niches that pour out opportunity in every direction. It should be about tapping a vein that no one company can exploit on its own, that sees perpetual change as the only constant.

Linux is like that. That's the secret of open source. There are Linuxes for clouds, Linuxes for desktops, Linuxes for mobile devices. There are Linuxes meant for enterprises, and Linuxes meant for individuals. Each distro seeks to carve out its own niche, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Larry Ellison rejects this. Just as Steve Ballmer does at Microsoft, just as Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd did at HP, just as Michael Dell did by buying Perot Systems. Just as the carriers do in "support" of Android. Control of the customer is all. Anything that falls to another vendor is waste, a profit leak to be plugged.

That's what Ellison's OracleWorld announcement of a new Oracle Linux is all about. That's what its Exalogic cloud in a box is all about. Your hardware, your software, your operating system, your cloud, it all comes from one vendor. One throat to choke. Buy the brand.

Everyone wants to be IBM under Tom Watson.

The problem with that strategy is it's a form of surrender. It screams "I" in a world where "we" should be powerful. It's not just that it's a proprietary attitude, that it threatens (say) Red Hat or Novell. It's that it denies the very idea of innovation by anyone else.

As I said at the top, this is a natural force. An industry explodes onto the scene and gradually consolidates, like a lump of stellar gas coalescing into a planet. But the world of technology need not be a planet.

It should be a galaxy.