informa
/
Government
Commentary

Enterprise Software Realignment: Oracle Vs. Everyone

Ellison is talking Oracle into a corner with SAP, HP and IBM while ignoring Microsoft to his peril. Meanwhile, Philips may put Oracle in the middle of Infor's target.
Sure, we saw genuine innovation from Oracle at Open World this fall, but it was buried in a corporate message about hardware and a strategic necessity for a little too much middleware in order to deploy this innovation.

Fusion looked good, but it's not yet ready for the market, and the shenanigans surrounding the circus atmosphere preceding and during the trial against SAP was an unfortunate distraction from the business of actually building and selling innovation. In fact, I think the impact of the trial will rebound against Oracle as the negatives -- mostly centering around the lawyering-up of the enterprise software market -- start to come home to roost.

I always felt that Oracle would be hard-pressed to show that its hot-footed, heavy-handed pursuit of SAP would have a measurable payback in either market share, stock price or customer preference. The impact of adding the fear that Oracle is ready and willing to lawyer up to win in the market will start to trickle down to the customers as well. No vendor wants its customers to worry that they could end up facing down the likes of David Boies if things start to go south.

Meanwhile, I have yet to find a single customer who thinks more highly of Oracle since the trial, or for that matter, less of SAP. I do know a number of customers who have really been scratching their heads at Oracle's conduct, and I personally worry that the lawyers seem to be running Oracle more and more, to the detriment of the people at Oracle who actually develop, market, and sell product.

I love lawyers, including the one I employ to help me with my business dealings; but the day he becomes a strategic asset to my business development efforts is the day I look in the mirror and start slapping myself around.

So, with Oracle facing a number of potential self-inflicted wounds of late, Microsoft on the rise, and HP/SAP and IBM/SAP starting to work better and better together, the market is starting to shift gears once again.

And waiting in the wings, but not for long, is Infor, with Charles Phillips at the helm, ready to start throwing its weight around. I firmly believe that Charles Philips, aided and abetted by Bruce Richardson, the former AMR analyst, is calmly dissecting the market and getting ready to launch a new strategy that will have Philips old company occupying that bullseye in the middle of the target. Not because anyone is vindictive or out for revenge -- not in our industry -- but because Oracle's strategy is the one that's looking a little stale right now. I for one can't wait to see what the new Infor is cooking up for the market.

So, it's almost 2011, and my prediction is this: fasten your seatbelts. The new year will bring a shifting of forces and interests that would make Metternich drool and leave Kissinger gasping for air. And regardless of whether you believe any of the above, you have to grant me this last fact: boy, is 2011 going to be an interesting year.

Josh Greenbaum is principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, a Berkeley, Calif.-based firm that consults with software companies and advises end users on technology infrastructure and application selection, development and implementation issues. Write him at [email protected].