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Global CIO: An Open Letter To Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Oracle customers hear a lot from you about your competitors, but rarely do they hear how you feel about them and what your vision and strategy for them is. You're missing a huge opportunity.

"I mean, right now, Sun is losing $100 million a month. A hundred million a month—that's a problem. So we'd like to get this thing done—that's a big problem. So obviously, Oracle makes more than that, but we think that's the uncertainty around this whole thing. If you read the HP ad, HP says, 'How much uncertainty can you take?' And if you read the IBM ad, they're just playing off this uncertainty. So the problem . . . [is] the longer this takes, the more money Sun is going to lose, and that's not good I don't think for anybody.

"By the way, IBM is saying they took 250 customers from Sun—what does that mean? That 250 customers threw out all their Sun machines, and replaced them with IBM machines? I'd like IBM to explain what they meant when they said they took 250 customers away from Sun. I don't think there's a single example of any Sun customer who's replaced all of their machines with IBM computers."

Now, that's clearly a good point about wanting IBM to explain itself more fully—why don't you press IBM on that? Why don't you follow up the one ad you ran recently and push IBM and HP and Dell to be more forthcoming?

But more importantly, what about the customers who are left to answer that question posed in the HP ad that you cited: "How much uncertainty can you take?" To the CIOs who must answer that question, Larry, it's all well and good that you want IBM to offer more details about these 250 ship-jumping customers but it really doesn't help them one bit as they themselves look to eliminate uncertainty, not debate how much of it does or doesn't exist in some IBM ad copy.

Those CIO customers would have benefitted, I think, from hearing you speak about the uncertainty they face in keeping their businesses as viable and competitive and stable as possible, instead of just about the vendor-to-vendor uncertainty you chose to focus upon about what, exactly, IBM meant when it said it has taken 250 customers from Sun.

In another instance, Larry, you seemed to be on the verge of making a strong customer connection when you said that while the Oracle/Sun combo will have no interest in "the plain old running of Windows on x86's," you are conversely "very interested in running airline-reservation systems, and we're very interested in running banking systems, and telecommunications systems." But, that was it—and I think people who see that comment must wonder if that means you're only interested in driving Oracle/Sun more deeply into those markets where Sun had established a strong base: financial services and among telecom companies.

But if I had to guess, I think you meant, broadly, that you want to optimize Sun's hardware to run Oracle software in the biggest and most-demanding business-computing environments that exist, whether those are in telecom or banking or in such other high-demand fields as retail and logistics and manufacturing and health care and E-commerce and media and more. But that's just a guess from a detached observer, and not a specific comment and commitment from the CEO of one of the world's best-known and most-successful executives about what can be expected from one of the world's most-powerful technology companies.

From that lofty platform you have earned, you could also have clarified things greatly for customers and prospects on two other extremely important topics:

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