Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oracle-Sun: Best of Breed Doesn't Matter Anymore

10 years ago the enterprise mantra was open systems and best-of-breed. Customers wanted the best server hardware, best operating system, best database, best application server, best middleware, and expected vendors to make that stack work together. Now there is a trend towards vertically integrated stacks from IBM, HP, and now Oracle with its acquisition of Sun.

Apple vs. Microsoft is playing out on the enterprise level, and vertically integrated stacks with a unified experience are edging out open systems. Why is this happening? It occurs to me that each of the layers of the enterprise stack have been completely commoditized - can anyone tell me the difference between AIX and Solaris, Oracle WebLogic and IBM WebSphere, DB2 and Oracle, etc. in a way that would make sense to a CIO? There is barely a difference anymore for technical people, let alone those signing the checks.

Essentially vertically integrated stacks of mainframes and minicomputers were replaced by layered open systems and are now being replaced by vertically integrated stacks of open systems.

The big question for Oracle is whether it can successfully start to sell server hardware and balance monetization vs. stewardship of open source like MySQL and Java. Imagine if you had a gardening service you really liked, and it was bought by Jiffy Lube and they called you up and said that they were going to "improve operating efficiencies" etc. You might consider finding yourself a new gardener.

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