Everyone likes to be on the side of the good guys, but just checking through the news today I’m starting to wonder whether Oracle cares how they come across. Bear with me …
There’s no doubt in my mind that smart phones are a great thing and the iPhone has lead this. I know Blackberry is tops in the US, and I don’t know what the sales figures are over here in the UK but it seems that 6 months ago everyone had an iPhone.
The tide is turning however, although iPhones are still popular, many of the early adopters are starting to become disenchanted with the Apple approach (and not just the issues with the iPhone 4, I’m thinking of the ‘walled garden’ that is the App marketplace too). When their carrier contracts complete and they are no longer locked in, many of these early adopters are switching to Android. To my mind it’s not going to be too long before Android phones are everywhere.
The same – I believe – will apply to tablets, although there’s a couple of years lag behind the mobile phone market. The iPad is the one that breaks the mould. I can imagine many people will buy a tablet in a few years time when their web browsing and email laptop breaks. I don’t think it’ll be an iPad though. Android tablets will be freely available and popular by then.
So, I have an idea that in the near future the mobile and tablet markets will be dominated by Android. What does this mean for Oracle and how they’re seen in the market?
Most people in the IT Industry have an awareness of how ‘good’ a company is. And by this I don’t mean their technical skill or the quality of their products. I mean how positively they are viewed by the public. Whether they do the right thing, whether they are ethically sound, their karma, if you like.
At one end you have Microsoft, they are (or maybe ‘were’) the ‘evil empire’. I like a lot of MS products, but this is definitely how they’re perceived in the marketplace. The other end – the ‘overwhelmingly positive’ end – is probably empty, the nearest incumbent being the open source movement. Apple were viewed positively, but there’s been a definite shift towards the evil end of the spectrum over the last 12 months. Steve Jobs doesn’t have the lustre that he had 12 months ago. Google and their “don’t be evil” is to the right of centre (although they too have committed the odd dubious move recently – Streetview, Buzz, Verizon/Net Neutrality – they’re still positive thanks to the brand goodwill from Search, Android and their free tools).
So where is Oracle? They took a hit when they acquired PeopleSoft (a hostile takeover of a very positively viewed company is always going to leave you painted as the bad guy!). They were probably perceived to be somewhere between MS and Apple.
But now we have the lawsuit to extract money from Google for Java. This is a patent that Sun hadn’t enforced (maybe they were just sneakily waiting for it to become prevalent enough before making their move?) but Oracle can smell the blood in the water. According to this post in The Register, James Gosling (the father of Java) was grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google during the Sun acquisition and “could see the Oracle lawyer’s eyes sparkle.”
“And yes, Oracle isn’t just after money, it’s after blood. In its complaint, Oracle doesn’t just demand monetary infringement damages, it’s seeking to have any code that is found to infringe upon Oracle’s copyrights “impounded and destroyed.”” (Daniel Eran Dilger – link to full article below)
They have to be careful that it’s seen as claiming what is rightfully theirs, rather than an aggressive attack on Google and the Open Source community. That would be a dent to the Oracle image.
Even worse though, if the move negatively impacts Android then it’s going to clearly cement Oracle’s reputation as a doer of evil.
Further comment here:
Steve Jobs/Anakin: Casey Fleeser/SomeGeekIntn
As we hoped, there was some Fusion news at OpenWorld from Larry’s Keynote:
- We’ll see Fusion next year. I’m guessing the tail end of 2010, rather than January. Maybe even next year’s OpenWorld?
- It is code complete, and it’s currently being tested internally.
- It covers many modules, but not all. No manufacturing or public sector from the off.
- It’ll be very modular and hot-plugable so will interoperate well with existing ERP implementations.
- It can run in the cloud (SAAS) or on premise.
There are some highly impressive screenshots here. It’s worth going through to the end, particularly for us HR folks for the talent management 9-boxes and org charts. I’m not overstating when I say that it looks awesome.
There have been quite a few announcements from Oracle over the last couple of weeks. In the PeopleSoft world there has been the eagerly awaited PeopleTools 8.50, and the latest version of the HR application, v9.1. In the Database world there was 11g r2, and for Hardware there was the FlashFire OLTP system stacked full of flash memory.
All this does rather ask the question, with OpenWorld only a short time away why announce all these products now?
This is pure speculation, but it does rather lead me to believe that there’s a big unveiling coming. Something that would otherwise overshadow these releases. And I think the only area that would eclipse the afrorementioned releases would be something large from the Fusion stable. I’ve got my fingers crossed …
A bit of a surprise this one, but Oracle has agreed to purchase Sun Microsystems.
This is a huge scoop for Oracle, and they’ve pinched it from under the noses of IBM (after IBM’s buyout was rejected earlier in the month). It is however an interesting move as a lot of Sun’s assets are open source anyway (Java, Solaris, OpenOffice, MySQL) so I can only assume that it’s control over the direction of these technologies that Oracle is interested in.
The Java case is easy to see. Java has become the keystone to Oracle’s middleware solution, and this positions Oracle perfectly as ‘the Java company’.
MySQL is a low-end competitor to Oracle’s Database, but it has a large and growing client-base that Oracle could pitch their database to as an ‘upgrade’.
Solaris is a little harder to understand. A lot of clients use Oracle’s database on Solaris, but then Oracle has been travelling down a different route more recently by pushing its own ‘Unbreakable Linux’ distribution – although to be truthful, I’ve not heard anyone actually using this yet.
It seems as though this may be another large step to offering every part of the ‘stack’, from hardware, through OS, database, middleware, web server, application, development platform, development language etc. According to Larry:
“Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system – applications to disk – where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability and security go up.”
Sun also has its fingers in other pies too. It has a strong hardware division, but Oracle has recently started forays into that arena also. It also has NetBeans, which is interesting as Oracle provide jDeveloper as their IDE and is part of the Eclipse foundation so there might be an interesting choice to make there. However, I don’t think we’ll be seeing an Oracle badged version of Sun’s OpenOffice any time soon though …
It seems the release of Fusion has now officially slipped to 2010 …
And let me add, next year we are going to be delivering the next generation Fusion applications …
They’re Larry Ellison’s words, so there’s no arguing with it. There’s no hint as to which end of the year, or whether this is the general release or one of the previously mentioned ‘beta’ releases to a limited customer set.
This may or may not be huge news as we had suspected that the General Availability release would be 2010 anyway, but there had previously been no comment from Oracle on this.
Further comment (from Vinnie Mirchandani) here.
There’s an interesting conversation going on around the topic of whether Oracle is an innovation company any more.
It started at Vinnie Mirchandani’s ‘Deal Architect’ blog with a post stating:
Oracle, in my opinion, has forgotten how to develop code. Its top executives are deal makers, not technology visionaries.
Worse, when it comes to their acquisitions, they cannot retain or easily replace the entrepreneurial talent. Every person who departs Oracle comments about the mass confusion that comes with such a rapid accumulation of software IP.
This opinion seems to have struck a nerve as there has been an ongoing conversation in the comments of the post between Vinnie and Karen Tillman (VP Comms – Oracle).
There has also been a post from Dennis Howlett’s ‘Irregular Enterprise’ blog following on with further financial reasoning and anecdotal evidence.