One of the few 800lb gorillas left in the software industry
that can challenge Microsoft with any success is Oracle. Oracles database
programs have successfully fended off attacks from Microsoft SQL Server for
years. In the portal world, Oracles products are also gaining steam. Oracles
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 News.com story that talked about
Oracle wanting to challenge Microsoft directly with its
own version of Linux. Oracles 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 Ellisons 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 80s
and early 90s 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,
Oracles 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 cant do the same with Oracle because Oracles 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 hed 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? Thats
where things get interesting.