Government // Enterprise Architecture
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2/28/2010
07:34 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: Microsoft Slams Oracle For Limiting Choice But Seeks x86 Hegemony

Riddle me this: Oracle's integrated systems limit competition, which is bad, but it should kill Sparc to limit Wintel competition, which is good.

"There are some things that Oracle is doing that I just shake my head at. I don't understand what's going to happen—what they think they're going to do with Sparc. I don't see how Sparc can live long-term," said Muglia.

"The economics associated with competing with the Intel ecosystem associated with performance characteristics and power characteristics of the X86 architecture are so powerful that the idea that Oracle is going to be able to overcome the natural evolution of the industry and be able to maintain what is unambiguously a dying architecture I don't know what to think about that, except that it's fine if they want to go off and spend a lot of money on doing it. We'll just continue to sell X86 systems to our customers. And we'll work with partners like HP."

Now, nobody ever said this IT stuff was easy, and now I think I understand it better: it's always better to have unlimited choices—in fact, it's "incredibly exciting" to have a vast array of choices—except when it's not good to have choices, as in those cases when a product competes with Microsoft.

Two closing thoughts: first of all, as for Muglia's confusion over "what they think they're going to do with Sparc," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says he's going to invest more in Sparc than Sun ever did. Muglia might think that's bad for customers—confusing and all that—but I suspect CIOs will always be happy to see competitors put some pressure on hugely dominant suppliers.

And second, I love competition and the razor-sharp claims and counterclaims that go with it and that can sometimes help illuminate the deeply technical stuff that ultimately makes up the IT business. As far as I'm concerned, Bob Muglia and every other Microsoft executive have a fiduciary responsibility to take the fight to Oracle as aggressively and with as much lethal intent as possible.

But when they do that, those executives should remember that there's a big fat line between competitive brawling and silly name-calling.

Muglia picked two of the very worst topics possible for attempting to attack Oracle and defend Microsoft: customer choice and x86. He could have gone after them on pricing, support policies, ecosystem range and depth, cloud commitment, and much more. But instead he took the easy way out and went after the caricatures.

So when a top-level Microsoft executive like Bob Muglia says that unlimited competition is great except when it runs counter to Microsoft's interests as Oracle's Sparc does, and when he attempts to position Microsoft as a champion of customer choice in everything including operating systems, well, he shouldn't be surprised to discover later that such comments did very little to undercut the credibility of Larry Ellison and Oracle, but did a lot to undercut the credibility of Bob Muglia and Microsoft.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Global CIO: 5 More Things Microsoft Must Do

Global CIO: Why Are Microsoft, Oracle, And HP Bashing IBM?

Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard Recruits Microsoft To Raid Sun's Customers

Global CIO: Salesforce.com CEO Benioff On Beating Microsoft And SAP In The Cloud

Global CIO: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison On The Future Of IT

Global CIO: Ballmer Blasts IBM For All The Wrong Reasons

Global CIO: Microsoft's Suicidal Infighting: An Insider's Story

Global CIO: Oracle Needs More Than Ellison's Talk To Beat IBM's Systems

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at bevans@techweb.com.

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