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12/2/2010
07:10 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO Top 10 Stories: Oracle Buys Sun For Systems Push

More than a simple linear takeover, Oracle-Sun has accelerated some widespread transformations in the IT business—can Larry Ellison take full advantage?

While Larry Ellison's dogged persistence in closing the acquisition of Sun will be remembered for many peripheral things—including the shameful 8-month kabuki exercise staged by the European Commission that cost many hundreds of Sun employees their jobs, the mockery by Ellison of former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz for blogging instead of selling, and the silly predictions that the two companies' wildly different cultures would make the deal into a disaster—the Oracle takeover of Sun will ultimately be remembered for one big thing: it gave Ellison the platform from which to mount simultaneous assaults on both IBM and SAP, two of the most successful business-technology companies in the world.

But win or lose, we are seeing that the effort alone is accelerating huge transformational forces in the IT industry: the promise that an all-Oracle, single-vendor stack can be more effective than the traditional heterogeneous approach; the surging demand for deeply integrated and optimized systems precipitated by Ellison and reinforced with Sun; and the notion that for most IT suppliers, the formerly impenetrable silos segregating hardware vendors from software vendors had come crashing down.

I'm not trying to say that those developments would never have come about were it not for Ellison—but I am saying that they're all vital and valuable changes for this industry and particularly its CIO customers to evaluate, and that Ellison—whether you love him or hate him—deserves credit for triggering and/or accelerating those innovations.

Before outlining why that's the case, here's a quick recap of the Top 10 Stories Of The Year that have preceded this one to give you some context of how this one at #4 stacks up:

THE TOP 10 TECH STORIES OF THE YEAR, #10 -- #5:

10) Global CIO: Top 10 Stories Of 2010: New Strategies, Platforms, & CEOs

9) Global CIO: Top 10 Stories Of The Year: The CIO Transformation

8) Global CIO: Top 10 Stories Of The Year: The Mobile Revolution

7) Global CIO:IBM Leads IT Industry With Surge In Analytics & Hardware

6) Global CIO: SAP's Turnaround Sparked By Customer-Centric Strategy

5) Global CIO: Rise Of Analytics Triggers Fall Of The Tactical CIO

Almost exactly one year ago today, in a quarterly earnings call with financial analysts shortly before Oracle received formal approval from the EU ninnies to close the Sun deal, Ellison offered the following vision as noted in my contemporaneous column called Global CIO: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison On The Future Of IT:

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