Global CIO: Larry Ellison Is Rewriting The Golden Rule Of IT Strategy - InformationWeek
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9/26/2010
05:19 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Larry Ellison Is Rewriting The Golden Rule Of IT Strategy

Ellison defies conventional wisdom by promising that extreme dependence on a single IT vendor (that would be Oracle) doesn't kill you and in fact will make you stronger.

All of Oracle's competitors say the company is totally nuts to believe that CIOs will begin buying end-to-end stacks from Oracle, even if such an approach would, at least in theory, greatly reduce the complexity and cost that have bedeviled CIOs for the past 30 years.

All of Ellison's detractors say he's crazy to think he can convince CIOs that their annual IT costs will tumble if they just agree to let Oracle redefine the dreaded space currently known as "vendor lock-in" by thinking of it instead as highly optimized infrastructure. (More specifically, highly optimized Oracle infrastructure, with Oracle doing the optimization.)

And all those naysayers—particularly IBM and SAP—insist that both Oracle and Ellison are about three bricks shy of a load if they think CIOs will buy the promise that these all-red stacks are not only all-Oracle but also fully open. As in, you can mix and match all you want. Of course, Oracle says that type of heterogeneity-creep defeats the whole purpose—but, they swear they won't prevent you from doing so.

Ellison and Oracle are betting that they can prove to CIOs that the fundamental IT strategy of the past couple of decades—an endless arbitrage of vendor versus vendor versus outsourcers versus integrator, with none of those parties ever gaining an upper hand—has not only enabled the complexity mess of today but has, in fact, exacerbated and ensured it.

Oracle's point is that the very legitimate fear of vendor lock-in has led CIOs into a different kind but equally damaging trap, in which their insistence on massive heterogeneity consigns those CIOs and their IT organizations to, well, locking in huge percentages of their IT budgets and personnel to the endless busywork of monitoring, tuning, patching, reconfiguring, retuning, recalibrating, etc., etc.

Ellison says Oracle's lean-on-me strategy eliminates most of that time-consuming and expensive grunt work whether you're following a traditional architecture path or branching into cloud computing or both. Here's how he described it with his company's new Exalogic Elastic Cloud machine, which he also refers to as a "cloud in a box":

"We've spent a lot of time—a great deal of time—optimizing Oracle software to work on Exalogic to deliver extreme performance," Ellison said during his introduction of the new system at last week's Oracle Open World.

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"It's elastic so that when you need more capacity, you just add more virtual machines, and it's completely fault-tolerant, and it's scalable, and it's secure."

On that last point of security, Ellison jabbed at IBM because its approach doesn't allow for the level of security and reliability that Oracle's does:

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