One of the few 800lb gorillas left in the software industry

that can challenge Microsoft with any success is Oracle.     Oracle’s database

programs have successfully fended off attacks from Microsoft SQL Server for

years. In the portal world, Oracle’s products are also gaining steam. Oracle’s

services and applications businesses have flourished. And Oracle long has had a

lot of mindshare in large government and large businesses.

I read with interest the story that talked about

Oracle wanting to challenge Microsoft directly with its

own version of Linux. Oracle’s bread and butter – the database server – has

long had the advantage of being able to run on just about any platform. You can

get a version of Oracle that will run under Windows, Linux, and just about

every other operating system including NetWare. Therefore, it would seem kind

of odd that Oracle would try to get its own operating system and thereby remove

the perceived OS neutrality.

The key part of the article said that Larry Ellison’s goal

was “to sell a full range of software that, like Microsoft, included both operating

system and applications.” As I pointed out in a

previous post, this is exactly the strategy that Novell took in the late 80’s

and early 90’s when it ruled the NOS. Novell took its eye off the ball and got

squashed. Will the same thing happen to Oracle?

I doubt it. There are a couple of key differences here. First,

Oracle’s a much bigger company than Novell was at its height. Oracle also has a

deeper bench. Novell relied on NetWare and basically nothing else to fund the

fight against Microsoft. Oracle has many different lines of business and is

more deeply entrenched in the larger companies. Microsoft could quickly and

easily hold Novell off on the desktop while counterattacking on the NOS front.

It can’t do the same with Oracle because Oracle’s a bigger target.

Secondly, Oracle has the advantage of Larry Ellison. From

just about anything you ever read about Ellison, you discover his ego is the

only thing bigger than his wallet. And one of the few wallets bigger than his belongs

to Bill Gates. Ellison is not just a Type A personality. More like a Type AAA+.

Therefore, you can just guess that he’d love nothing more than to take a few

shots at Microsoft.

Will Oracle get in the game that others lost? And will it do

it by buying Novell or RedHat or by using the advantage of open-source and

create its own version of Linux?  That’s

where things get interesting.