Tech Zoo: If IT vendors were animals

What if our favorite IT vendors and tech companies had animal personalities? Welcome to ZDNet's Tech Zoo.
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What if all our favorite IT vendors and tech companies had animal personalities? Welcome to ZDNet's Tech Zoo.

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Apple = Black Leopard

Smooth, silky, and elegant -- but dangerous to competitors.

Apple without a doubt is an apex predator in the technology industry. But like many big cats, which are optimized for hunting and not necessarily stamina, the company is highly optimized for designing and selling sexy consumer electronics and maintaining its formidable retail presence in the concrete jungle.

However, don't look for this cat to go up against less agile or attractive but equally formidable enterprise players in real IT settings.

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Google = Octopus

Tentacles in so many parts of our lives.

Google, like our favorite cephalopod, is a highly intelligent organism with a highly distributed nervous system and can squeeze through virtually anything. Its many Cloud services extend into all sorts of products including smartphones, tablets, IoT devices and even enterprise productivity. Occasionally though, when the going gets rough and one of their (many) science experiments fail, expect Google to jet away to fight another day.

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Oracle = Giant Python

It'll swallow you with lock-in and then crush you with software audits.

When we think of Oracle and Larry Ellison, the only word we could use to describe the personality of the two was "Reptilian". And there are few reptiles on this planet that scare the hell out of people and command respect more than the Giant Python.

The thing is though, when you want a proven, big iron-worthy high-volume enterprise DBMS for mission critical workloads, there are few good choices.

IBM has DB2, SAP has HANA, and Microsoft has SQL Server. All have their merits, but push come to shove, many large organizations keep coming back to Oracle, despite high licensing costs and the hard sell. The longer it has been in your environment the stickier and stronger hold on your IT it has.

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IBM = Galapagos Tortoise

Big, slow, and long lived.

You have to give IBM credit. The company has been around for almost 105 years. Just like the Galapagos, it has seen it all. Many companies in the industry have risen and fallen during the company's reign.

Sure, IBM has had its ups and downs, and compared to its competitors, Big Blue changes and adapts at a measured, even lumbering pace.

The company is likely going to face increased rightsizing in the next decade as cloud computing becomes the norm rather than large software and services deals, and after having sold both their PC and Server businesses to Lenovo they are virtually out of the hardware business, save for their Big Iron System p UNIX boxes and System z mainframes.

But just like our tortoise friend, chances are good ol' Armonk will still be humming when a lot of today's hot Silicon Valley companies have gone extinct.

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Amazon = Killer Whale

It’s huge, most of its activity happens beneath the surface, and it’s much smarter than it gets credit for.

Like Apple, Amazon is also an apex predator. And while the company makes devices, Amazon is equally happy just plain selling you stuff on any platform you use and making mom and pop and giant retail stores disappear like tasty morsels of salmon and baby seals.

Whether it's supplying you with your monthly order of K-Cups, books, Kindles, streaming video and audio content, or IaaS via AWS, Amazon is the king of the e-tail and cloud services ocean.

Just don't get in its way when it's hungry, or you'll end up like sushi at an all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet.

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BlackBerry = Dodo Bird

Too soon?

Once the crown jewel in mobile devices for enterprises and consumers, the company spent too much time resting on its own laurels and besotted with "not invented here" syndrome that it allowed Apple and Google's Android OEMs (mainly Samsung) to lead BlackBerry on the path of extinction. BlackBerry (then RIM) didn't start taking corrective action until 2010 when it bought QNX, a Canadian embedded software company that powers the BlackBerry 10 OS.

The company has been doing better in recent years, especially now that they appear to be taking a more multi-platformist approach. But we can't help thinking that like the Dodo, we'll only see pictures of BlackBerry devices in museums soon.

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Samsung = Giant ant colony

Many moving parts and has strength in numbers particularly in its manufacturing business.

Many people tend to think of Samsung as a large producer of smartphones, tablets and televisions. But that only scratches the surface of what this Korean manufacturing giant is capable of. Unlike Apple or even their manufacturing partners in China and Taiwan, Samsung is vertically integrated at the supply chain level. That means they bake their own tech DNA and manufacture most, if not all of their own components that go into their own products as well as that of companies that place volume orders with them -- including Apple and numerous others. Whether its SoCs, memory, displays, batteries and support chipsets, Samsung does it all with its vast production capability, with participation in every vertical and horizontal industry you can think of.

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Cisco = Bee

Cross-polinates everything.

Without bees, the flora of the earth would die. Similarly, without Cisco, the Internet and enterprise networks would largely cease to function.

When you think of networking vendors, Cisco is definitely at the top of the list -- it powers the switching and routing fabric of virtually every enterprise and network service provider in existence.

There are other companies that make enterprise and telco switches and routers, as well as datacenter servers like Cisco's own UCS series of systems, but nobody does an equally good job at integrating all of it together in one seamless managed package.

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Dell = Monarch butterfly

Volume movement with short lifecycles.

Industry migrations can move vast amounts of the company's PCs and servers, but they die off just as easily.

Still, there are always millions of baby caterpillars waiting to be born for the next buying cycle.

Dell isn't necessarily the most high-end choice for PCs, storage and servers, but nobody else can move hardware at this kind of volume.

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HP = Alligator

A throwback to the early days and stubborn as hell.

Like IBM or Oracle, HP is a long-lived reptilian, and a descendant from prehistoric times, but is particularly sluggish during industry cold spells and is vulnerable to more aggressive and more intelligent hunters. Easy to outsmart, and is prone to bad decision making.

The American alligator was once classified as an endangered species due to over-hunting. Today, HP is in a similar situation, after having gone through a decade of poor executive decisions and its inability to compete against more volume PC players in an extremely low-margin business.

But now that the company has started to become more lean and mean under better leadership, with the spinning off of their PC and printer business, we could see HP thrive as an enterprise vendor again, just like our favorite crocodilian swamp resident.

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Intel = Gut Flora

Inside literally everything, millions and millions of them power the PC industry's metabolism.

Gut Flora, or more appropriately referred to as Gut Microbiota, no other creature on this list sounds less attractive or more miniscule.

However, no other is more essential to the life of the PC and Server ecosystem and the engine that powers the compute infrastructure of today's modern Cloud.

Although not an organ itself, Gut Flora is essential to the metabolism of food in the digestive tracts of animals and humans. Intel's microprocessors and other enabling technology, which includes discrete graphics and communications chipsets, similarly, function as the brain and guts of every commodity computing system in existence, from desktop and laptop PCs to the most powerful servers running mission-critical workloads in the largest enterprise datacenters, supercomputing clusters and hyperscale cloud providers.

Like gut flora, Intel is the most symbiotic company in existence. They might not be sexy, and their products are virtually invisible. But without them, we don't have much of a IT industry.

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Microsoft = Homo sapiens

Highly adaptive. Potentially the most dangerous animal on earth when it perfects its techniques and learns from its mistakes.

When you compare the average naked human being to some of the scarier-looking or even more physically attractive-looking animals in this group, it's hard to come back feeling impressed.

Microsoft, similarly, is not specialized at anything, and it lacks the sex appeal or sheer out of the box brand presence of many of the companies on this list. It's a generalist, with a lot of products and tools in its stable, and has a highly varied track record from its 40 years in business.

But this is a company that iterates and continues to learn, and changes focus and adapts as it needs.

It makes mistakes, fixes its products according to feedback and isn't afraid to admit when it screws up. When it needs to go after something, it does it with a highly organized sense of purpose and rarely gives up.

Microsoft is the most intelligent and dangerous animal on the planet, when it gets organized, focuses, adapts, and makes use of its tools.

Like Homo Sapiens, it may take Microsoft multiple attempts to get it right -- like their Windows 10 OS or even their Azure Cloud -- but when they do, nothing can stand in their way.

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