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11/10/2009
08:01 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Why Oracle's Larry Ellison Will Tell The EU To Pound Sand

Larry Ellison wants to compete head-on against IBM. He needs Sun to do that. The EU stands in his way. The popinjays better be sure to buckle up their chinstraps.

On MySQL's Position And Value

"We're a big fan of open source—in fact, we've had the major transaction engine to MySQL—it's something Oracle bought years ago and has invested in it to a higher level than it was invested in before. We believe in open source, we're a huge supporter of Linux. MySQL and Oracle do not compete—at all . . . . There's a long list of database machines and database software we compete against—we never compete against MySQL. They're both called databases, they address very different markets—furthermore, it's open source."

Zander asks, "If they ask you to spin it off, will you?"

Ellison: "No."

Rapid-fire, Zander asks, "If they told you to spin it off, would you?"

Ellison: "No. We're not gonna spin it off. The U.S. government cleared this, we think the Europeans are gonna clear this, and we are not going to spin anything off."

Sounds to me like the classic example from physics of an irresistible force. But I have a hard time conjuring up an image of the EC grandees as immovable objects. Detached and distorted, yes; profoundly poorly informed, sure thing; politically motivated and duplicitous, absolutely. And while they may perceive themselves as immovable in their own hermetically sealed little world, we'll see if they can stand up to this irresistible force.

Ellison's IBM Fixation

"We want to be TJ Watson Jr.'s IBM. Not Lou Gerstner's IBM, not Palmisano's IBM—we wanna be T.J. Watson Jr.'s IBM. And that's when IBM really was the dominant software company—uh, 'dominates' is a bad word (audience laughter)—they're not allowed to use that word—well, but they were the dominant software company in the world and they translated that position in software to become the dominant systems company in the world. We are not going into the hardware business. We have no interest (shrugs) in the hardware business. We have a deep interest in the systems business.

"Let me tell you about the great systems companies: Cisco's a great systems company. They ship a hardware/software combination that allows them to be instrumental in the acceleration of the Internet. And we think by combining our software with hardware, that we can deliver systems that can be the backbone of most enterprises in America and around the world. So it's really the combination of the two: we have no interest in competing with Dell, and the plain old running Windows on x86's or HP with running Windows on x86's. We're VERY interested in running airline-reservation systems, and we're VERY interested in running banking systems, and telecommunications systems, and that requires both hardware and software. . . .

"T.J. Watson Jr.'s IBM was the greatest company in the history of the enterprise on Earth because they had that combination of hardware and software running ost of the enterprises on the planet. That company was the dominant company in computing when I came into this industry: it was pre-Intel, there was no Intel, there was no PC, there certainly was no Mac or any of this stuff. It was IBM, IBM, IBM. And I was told that IBM was not a company against which you competed; IBM was the environment in which you competed. We've already beaten IBM in software—on modern systems. And now, if everyone will let us, we'd like to see if we can beat IBM in hardware, or systems."

Recall from his earlier remarks: " . . . we think we can succeed and compete and beat IBM. And that's our goal."

On The Meaning Of Competition

"Oracle's a very competitive company, and a lot of very competitive people are at Oracle, and I enjoy competition—I think life is a series of acts of discovery. We're all interested in our limits, what we can accomplish in life, and in discovering our own limits—we might find that in sport, we might find that in business. I think we're always looking to discover new things about each other and about ourselves."

And that's why I think Larry Ellison is going to tell the EU's paper-pushers to pound sand: because he's not going to let these lightweights deter him from his appointed showdown with IBM. Ellison is more than 60 years old but remains a phenomenally engaged and competitive person in spite of (because of?) also being one of the wealthiest people in the world. He doesn't need to do this to make his bones in the business world, and he can always go off and devote all his time to being the most successful sailboat-racer on the planet, and to funding and advising great young entrepreneurs.

No, Larry Ellison doesn't need to do this for anyone else—but his own words tell us he needs to do it for himself. With no quarter asked and none given, he wants to compete across the board very directly against IBM—it's that simple. And if in order to achieve that he needs to swat aside some nattering gnats from the EU, then fine—tell them to get in line.

Because the anti-competitive crew at the EC is about to find out what competition is really all about.

Recommended Reading:

Global CIO: Oracle Trapped By EU Politics As Sun Employees Suffer

Global CIO: Can Oracle's Larry Ellison Keep MySQL From EU Whiners?

Global CIO: An Open Letter To Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Global CIO: Oracle Nailed By EU Protectionism As HP And IBM Raid Sun

Global CIO: In Oracle Vs. SAP, IBM Could Tip Balance

Oracle's Ellison Calls Out IBM: Why You Gotta Love The Guy

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

Global CIO: How 22% Fees For Your Equal 51% Operating Margins For Oracle

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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