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Global CIO: Larry Ellison And The New Oracle Rock The Tech World

From optimized systems and new Fusion apps to slashing CIOs' integration burdens, Oracle promises to redefine not only product categories but also customer expectations.
"Most of the people who work here for me are ex-retailers, and we live and breathe this industry -- that's all we do."

As I've said before, no matter whether you you like and admire Oracle and its celebrity CEO or wish he'd go for a 10-year sail in the South Pacific, his ability to influence competitors and customers is profound -- and, in my opinion, is on the verge of expanding dramatically.

Industrywide Influence

After Exadata rocketed to a billion-dollar run rate, every major IT company -- from Hewlett-Packard to IBM to SAP to SAS to Microsoft and EMC and beyond -- cranked up plans to release highly optimized systems and appliances. And many of them have begun vocal campaigns to discredit the "one stack fits all" approach Oracle is touting.

In applications, SAP is Oracle's only major competition, and the challenges laid out by Fusion and Oracle's quest for vertical expertise are considerable.

But what I find most compelling about Oracle's overarching strategy -- and why I think that it's highly credible -- is that Oracle has been the first major tech company to step forward and proclaim that the methods and technologies that have brought us to our current position are no longer sufficient to carry us forward.

As Phillips said in our April interview: "The reason you're spending so much on maintenance is because you have such a complex infrastructure to begin with, and all the diversity is part of that cost and trying to maintain all the different flavors and configurations and integrations and customizations. You've created something so complex and customized that it's unique to you. You've become a technology company because what you've created is so unique. But you don't want to be unique, not when it comes to your technology architecture. Where you want to be unique is in your strategy and the way you configure our technology to support your strategy and not the actual technology underneath it. That's the only way you're gonna lower your cost."

Can you trust Oracle's lean-on-me approach? Should you trust it?

Either way, the idea is out there and it's making people think and it's forcing some CIOs to reevaluate what had until recently been eternal truths -- and I think that's a great thing, regardless of what decision they come to.

At the same time it's also forcing other IT vendors to think long and hard about the value propositions they offer, about the way they package their products and services, and the way they regard their fundamental relationships with CIOs and the businesses that drive the global economy.

In buying Sun, and launching and promoting Exadata v2, and paving the way for the new Java-based Fusion apps, and packaging increasingly deep industry expertise in vertical apps, Larry Ellison and his new Oracle are forcing their customers and competitors to think in new ways -- sometimes, dramatically new ways.

And I think our grand, sweeping, and influential tech world needs a lot more of that because the IT industry's at its best when it's innovating and disrupting, not when it's lulling itself and its customers to sleep with the repetitive clip-clop rhythm of slow-paced, low-innovation sameness.

And just as life in the IT slow lane was becoming the norm, Larry Ellison has thrust his company into the passing lane with a trimaran hull and wing-sail approach and dared everyone else in the business to try to keep up.

The race is on.

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 [email protected].

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