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Oracle: Proud, Self-Reliant, Increasingly Isolated 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the sitting-in-the-corner-for-a-timeout dept.
jfruhlinger writes "One of Oracle's stated purposes when it bought Sun more than two years ago was to create full-stack appliances: SPARC servers running Solaris or Oracle Linux and Oracle's suite of app servers and of course its omnipresent database. Its new T4 processor is a reaffirmation of that strategy. But has the company painted itself into a corner? While it's cautiously embraced the cloud, its cloud services don't work with Windows or other companies' offerings, which kills much of their potential value; meanwhile, they've managed to alienate open source developers and big swaths of the Java community. It seems that Oracle's inability to play well with others is locking them out of the multipolar future."
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Oracle: Proud, Self-Reliant, Increasingly Isolated

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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:01PM (#37571346) Journal
    He's in the "all the traffic will bear" business. Get over it. Get to forking.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is more about the business model of Oracle within the IT world. They are basically trying to be the main solution of the server market much like IBM was towards the pc market and microsoft towards the OS market. Ultimately, I think it's a loosing strategy long term as these types of companies has been declining or stagnating while the timing of their strategy is wrong.. Oracle is basically trying to deploy a market strategy that fits an emerging market rather then in the well developed market they are

    • Yep, open source developers and the Java 'community' are not their clients. They are a specialized company.. moving away from commodity products. Good for security, no?

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        and cutting ties with interoperability, which means you have to be an all-or-nothing Oracle shop for the most part.

        • Almost every company for which I've worked had management that dreamed of being "tied in" to a big vendor. Makes me wonder if a prerequisite for getting into upper management is being into bondage.

          I've actually seen director types get almost panicky when I've suggested a solution that bypassed the "officially approved" big vendor. They didn't even want to hear of the possibility of saving money or providing a better solution, because it would break that "special bond" they had with ${BIG_VENDOR}.

          • by cjb658 (1235986)

            Makes me wonder if a prerequisite for getting into upper management is being into bondage.

            Okay, the safety word is "GPL!"

          • by bratwiz (635601)

            I've actually seen director types get almost panicky when I've suggested a solution that bypassed the "officially approved" big vendor. They didn't even want to hear of the possibility of saving money or providing a better solution, because it would break that "special bond" they had with ${BIG_VENDOR}.

            There's an old quote with some grains of truth to it-- "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM". Which means that as long as you "run with the herd" it's harder to get fingered as the "dipshit responsible for this mess".

            • Well, to be fair. When has someone from the Apache group took your director to a game in the companies luxury box? Oh, heh. they don't have one? they must not sell much. And why would you want it then :)

      • Yes, but do not underestimate the influence of open source developers and of the Java 'community' among IT Departments. They may not make the final purchase decision, but they can certainly affect it.

        • You don't understand. Oracle intends to build secure systems with their own hardware and protocols. There will be no java or open source.

      • That strategy worked well for SGI. No, wait, no it didn't...

        Oracle has a shrinking market for their database. If you need a big database, you go with Oracle, but the definition of big keeps moving. A payroll database that was a few tens of MBs used to be big. Now we're talking (at least) tens of GBs. Things like Postgresql are as good as Oracle at the low end, and the low end has gone from being 10% of the market to being 90%, and it keeps growing upwards, just as commodity desktop GPUs gradually ate

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      He's in the "all the traffic will bear" business. Get over it. Get to forking.

      Proud, Self-Reliant, Increasingly Isolated : Pick Two.

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:05PM (#37571402)
    The only company that's ever made me actually happy to use Microsoft's competing product instead. Now if only this self imposed isolation will convince everyone else to ditch Oracle SQL so i can stop supporting it =P
    • Funny, I could say the same thing about Microsoft making me want to use Oracle.
    • Except there are still a lot of shared web hosts that don't offer PostgreSQL; they offer only Oracle MySQL. Good luck getting shared hosts to ditch MySQL.
      • Oh I dunno. As I understand it, switching to MariaDB is dirt simple.

      • Except there are still a lot of shared web hosts that don't offer PostgreSQL; they offer only Oracle MySQL.

        While its true that there are lots of shared hosting providers that don't offer PostgreSQL, there are also lots that do offer PostgreSQL. So if you want PostgreSQL you have options.

        • by tepples (727027)

          While its true that there are lots of shared hosting providers that don't offer PostgreSQL, there are also lots that do offer PostgreSQL.

          That's fine if you know you'll be installing a particular web application on your hosting plan from day one. But if you're adding an application to an existing hosting plan, you have to use what you have unless the contract with your hosting provider is due for renewal very soon.

          • You only have yourself* to blame, for choosing a plan that won't give you options, when you should know you'd want them. Next time you switch providers get somebody that will help you instead of getting on your way.

            * That "yourself", of course is corporationwise. That could mean your boss, or his boss, but it probably means you, because big corporations hardly use non-flexible hosting providers.

            • You only have yourself* to blame, for choosing a plan that won't give you options, when you should know you'd want them.

              When I signed up for hosting, I had no idea in advance that I'd want to run a specific app that does not support PostgreSQL, only MySQL or MariaDB.

              • by Zancarius (414244)

                When I signed up for hosting, I had no idea in advance that I'd want to run a specific app that does not support PostgreSQL, only MySQL or MariaDB.

                Not to mention that, while the margin is shrinking, there's quite a few generic FOSS web apps out there that either 1) continue to lack support for PostgreSQL or 2) have exceedingly shoddy support for it.

                While he didn't say it, you could argue that tepples was alluding to the fact that crummy PHP apps are pretty much responsible for the reason why so many provide

              • Well, I'd say that when your current contract expires, you should look at somebody that offers both. Also, make sure you are not stuck at PHP... (Just a guess that you are using PHP here, but even if wrong, it applier to any language.)

                There are plenty of providers that will offer you the most common options.

          • That's fine if you know you'll be installing a particular web application on your hosting plan from day one. But if you're adding an application to an existing hosting plan, you have to use what you have unless the contract with your hosting provider is due for renewal very soon.

            No, if you are adding an application to an existing hosting plan, you have to use what you have by definition, regardless of contract terms (because if you switch plans, then you aren't adding the application to the existing hosting

            • by tepples (727027)
              My "unless the contract with your hosting provider is due for renewal very soon" referred to migration, your #3: transition costs become more bearable near the end of the contract. Your #2 is impossible due to the same origin policy if the services have to interact in certain ways. So this leaves application developers targeting site owners who are stuck in #1: "Use something that works with the existing plan". And in this market, where so many "existing plan[s]" lack PostgreSQL, that means adding support f
              • My "unless the contract with your hosting provider is due for renewal very soon" referred to migration, your #3: transition costs become more bearable near the end of the contract.

                Right, but its not impossible, as you presented it originally, its an option with costs (just like choosing a less-suitable backed database is an option with costs), which have to be weighed against its benefits.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      There is a reason why Oracle is on top of database business. That's because their databases work a hell of a lot better then competition in large scale installations.

      People who fork those 10k+ per processor licences expect the bang for their buck and they get it.

      • by Vancorps (746090)

        As someone who manages both Oracle and MS SQL servers I often question whether that is the case. While it is true in the 7 years that I've been managing Oracle I've had exceedingly few issues making the admin process boring and thus effective, MS SQL doesn't require a whole lot of work either. Once you setup your maintenance and backup plans it's pretty much a set and forget setup as well.

        Of course I've also found the MS SQL server features are much more readily accessible and easy to deploy without having

      • Huw much processing and redundancy would that same money buy at the inexpensive side of things? Most of the time, buying three times more hardware and software will get you a bigger capacity and bigger uptime for a smaller price.

        Altough, some times it won't. But Oracle couldn't sustain itself on those few clients that really need top datacenters, even assuming Oracle does in fact fit into a top datacenter (what is quite iffy).

      • by phlamingo (629479)

        There is a reason why Oracle is on top of database business.

        Yep. It's because they are better at selling to corporate suits than anyone else.

    • by Dwonis (52652) *
      But it totally makes sense that an empty string and NULL mean the same thing... sometimes.
  • Anecdote.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@nospAm.carpanet.net> on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:08PM (#37571438) Homepage

    So we had some problems with how Nagios stock plugins interact with Solaris Zpools...under certain circumstances, it can read a filesystem as full even when it has plenty of space (less than half full). In looking for a solution, I found a check on the exchange that was written to use the zpool tools to check. I found a minor bug in the check, fixed it, deployed it, and sent a patch to the original author.

    His reply? He thanked me, but informed me that it was of no use to him anymore as his company migrated everything off of Solaris rather than deal with Oracle.

    So I would say yes, this sounds about right.

    • by ryanov (193048)

      We are aggressively moving away from Solaris because of the change in cost to hardware support. It's a shame for me as Solaris was the OS I'm most comfortable with lately, but, so it goes.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        I was talking with our main Solaris guy and telling him we need to get better with our workflow because I thought I must be months behind on adding new Solaris servers to monitoring and need an updated list from him to see if we were missing any. Thats when he informed me that I wasn't behind, we just weren't getting requests for new Solaris machines anymore.

        • by ryanov (193048)

          What bugs me most is that I'll have to go back to not having LiveUpgrade. But oh well, they're moving everything virtual anyway for no reason, so I guess there's the ability to revert that way.

    • by Chili-71 (768964)
      I too am moving away from Oracle/Sun. Yes, we still have Oracle databases in house, but all the Sun hardware is moving to a fire sale. Sad because I really like(d) Sun, but now that Oracle has made it their bastard child, I have no intention of supporting it any more. Besides, we are primarily an IBM shop (p570s/p750s) and a smattering of Linux/Microsoft support systems. I have really come to appreciate the robustness and power of the pSeries hardware.

      I met with Oracle a couple of times and always walk
  • With the state of affairs (financially) with players such as HP, the future doesn't look very multipolar. I suspect that the Enterprise computing market will become more and more bipolar (pun intended) and the focus will shift to selling "platform as a service" or "Infrastructure as a service" solutions which hook seamlessly into public cloud offerings...
    HP will get bought, EMC will get bought, Netapp will get bought and then there will remain only 4 main players in the Computing platform market -- IBM, Ora

    • oh and did I forget to mention that Cisco will buy Intel and will provide the plumbing for all data in the world within the next 10 years?!?

    • So who is going to win the World Series this year?
    • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:48PM (#37571920) Journal

      Yes, because when life safety and big money is on the line, our first action is to introduce MORE fragile complexity that only benefits a held-harmless 3rd party who's sole goal is to insert themselves into our revenue stream.

      Reality much?

  • - Tom Henderson makes, maybe, 6-7 digits. Larry makes at least 8-9.
    - In the past 5yrs, Oracle stocks have been going up (bluechip and all that), going from 17.74 to the current 28.86. Was 28.86 1yr ago

    One of them if right about Oracle's business practices, the other is wrong.

    And lets not forget:

    tomhenderson wrote Oracle has a Sun spot:
    Oracle is pushing itself into a corner, a fantastic money-making corner, but a corner nonetheless.

    So let me make my prediction. In the next 12 months, Larry will increase his

    • I'd like to offer the obligatory MS comparison. You can't argue that Microsoft didn't make many wrong decisions (Zune, Windows Mobile, etc over the past ten years. Yet there is Balmer still in charge making more money than I am. Microsoft still makes heaps money. You don't need to make more money than people to recognize bad decisions. That would logically require us to make all elections a wealth measurement exercise.

      • by morcego (260031)

        Did you read TFA ?

        Analysts (like the one on TFA) are not talking about specific products. They are talking about company-wide strategic/business decisions.

      • ...That would logically require us to make all elections a wealth measurement exercise.

        That sounds about right for the U.S. Give it ten years, and we will be there.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        wait they are not?

    • by NeMon'ess (160583) *

      It's not about the next year. It's about the next five years.

    • What makes you think anyone is jealous? I certainly am not.

      Same thing with MS - all the business types think its jealousy. It isn't - I truly loathe their business practices, sneaky tactics, *and* their code. All of it.

      Deal with that.

  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:22PM (#37571612) Homepage
    Is Microsoft better than Oracle? I kind of see it as the East Front: Nazi Germany against Communist Russia. Can't they just destroy each other completely?
    • by MarkvW (1037596)

      Comparing Microsoft vs. Oracle to Nazi Germany is an interesting comparison--if you follow through with it.

      If both sides exhaust themselves, who is going to take their place? A peace and love cooperative or just another corporate predator?

    • Is Microsoft better than Oracle?

      I would say that if you're migrating anyway, why not do it right and migrate to PostgreSQL or EnterpriseDB? That may even be an easier transition if you're coming from Oracle, too.

    • by LQ (188043)

      Is Microsoft better than Oracle? I kind of see it as the East Front: Nazi Germany against Communist Russia. Can't they just destroy each other completely?

      I think you're getting confused with IBM.

  • It seems that Oracle's inability to play well with others is locking them out of the multipolar future.

    I would hope so. It's the only type of corrective behavior that works long term.

    Now if we could just get people to attack Apple's arrogance...

  • There are plenty more hardware platform makers in this world, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Groupe Bull, Unisys, Cray to name a few.

    HP isn't leaving the enterprise computing field any time soon, regardless of what happens with their wintel pc offerings.

  • by jbolden (176878) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:25PM (#37571648) Homepage

    I'm having a hard time seeing where Oracle isn't multipolar. Their absolutely core technology is a database. All their business offerings on the next layer generally support databases other than Oracle. Oracle is usable by business products that conflict with their offerings. Going to their Sun acquisition it gives them a hardware platform they can control. The ability to buy an "Oracle box" which Oracle is responsible for maintaining, top to bottom.

    As for OpenOffice I'm not sure how that fits with Oracle's model at all, it is a Sun asset they can't really make use of. MySQL they seem to be protecting fine keeping it focused on the low end, along with Berkley DB, which is also theirs.

    Oracle Linux is silly. I think Oracle will likely start licensing RedHat as it gets more difficult to support. Once they start writing checks their problems with RedHat will be over.

    I don't agree with the author.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      is multipolar a new buzz word? like Paradigm shift?
    • by afabbro (33948) on Friday September 30, 2011 @05:09PM (#37572708) Homepage

      Oracle Linux is silly. I think Oracle will likely start licensing RedHat as it gets more difficult to support. Once they start writing checks their problems with RedHat will be over.

      I don't agree with the author.

      Their stack is: bare metal, Oracle Linux, Oracle ASM (fs/volume mgr), Oracle Cluster, then DB, app, etc.

      In other words, from bare metal (which they also sell :-) to app (and they sell some giant ones - Peoplesoft, Siebel, Oracle eBusiness, etc.) they can sell you the entire stack. Everything below the DB is reasonably priced (compared to Veritas, RedHat, etc.) and exists mainly as a way to sell you the DB and up, where the real money is (because OS, cluster, etc. are commodities at this point)

      I'd be really surprised if they'd yank one one layer of the stack (OEL).

      They may merge in some Sun tech, though - right now that is a whole different stack.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        It would still look like that to the customer. Just Oracle would be paying RedHat for 2nd or 3rd tier support on OEL. The customer gets a unified support experience by RedHat is doing the OS work. Besides they don't sell PC hardware so that' the very bottom layer of the stack easy to drop or do it 1/2 way or rebrand or...

        I don't think Oracle wants to get into making an OS. Hell they don't even want to do much with Solaris.

      • If they (or more likely, their customers) decide they really need RedHat, they can write a big check and buy the company. They could afford it. But they probably won't. As Larry said a few years ago, RedHat doesn't really own any IP. Their stuff is open source. So why pay for something you can just take?

        • They'd aquire lots of expertize, contracts and good will.

          Now, Oracle being Oracle, those would last for a week or less. But that is not because RedHat is worthless.

  • Last time I checked the cloud was a fancy term for clustered internet/intranet portals.

    Ironically the last time I have seen Oracle reporting software, it required IE 6 and not even IE 7 would work even though the backend was unix based. SOme very proprietary activeX controls too. Last I heard that requirement was still there. Sounds like a crappy and poorly engineered products they have that wont work with their own operating system and platforms. Or even any platform younger than 10 years old, in which in

    • Welcome, o, thou traveler from the past!

      What you are saying was true maybe 4 years ago.

      • That was 2 years ago. Client has lots of older software and probably refuses to upgrade as the old one aint broke so why fix it. I was told back in 2009 that Oracle had no intention of leaving IE 6 right when WIndows 7 was coming out. I was shocked as I knew businesses would be upgrading quickly. The recession hit delaying that, but statistics show Windows 7 already overtook XP in the US and businesses have either upgraded, upgrading, or plan to upgrade in the next 6 months from what I seen. Bad time to kee

        • by ScottyLad (44798)

          I was told back in 2009 that Oracle had no intention of leaving IE 6 right when WIndows 7 was coming out. I was shocked as I knew businesses would be upgrading quickly... in the US and businesses have either upgraded, upgrading, or plan to upgrade in the next 6 months from what I seen. Bad time to keep supporting IE 6.

          It just goes to show that Oracle know their customer base. I work with plenty of clients who have been "planning" to migrate away from legacy browsers, operating systems and applications for years.

          In Oracles client base (ie, the enterprise market) it's not unusual to find several tens of thousands of employees, a few hundred departments, a couple of dozen operating systems, a few hundred applications, an army of in-house developers "tweaking" what everyone thought was a COTS package... and these are just th

  • "It seems that Oracle's inability to play well with others is locking them out of the multipolar future"

    Sounds great in my book. I might actually buy some of their crap just to encourage them to keep going.

    http://seclists.org/bugtraq/2005/Oct/56 [seclists.org]

    Never forget it.

  • Couldn't have happened to a nicer company.

  • by karianna (917148) <{martijnverburg} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday September 30, 2011 @04:06PM (#37572086)

    FYI - I'm the London JUG [meetup.com] co-leader, we have a seat on the Java Standards Body (aka the JCP) and I've seen first hand the Oracle and Java community challenges :-).

    I think Oracle's record with the Java community is turning around in the right direction. They clearly didn't know how to the deal with the community to begin with, but I'll give em credit for trying their damnedest to get better at it! For example:

    • They offer amazing amounts of (no strings attached) support to the Java User Groups (we've certainly had it better than we did under Sun). They put their $/£ where their mouth is and offer logistical support for user group events to boot (again, no strings attached).
    • They set a date for Java 7, and they delivered the darn thing.
    • They're working on the JCP reforms, starting with openness and transparency (JSR-348 [java.net]) and they will have a follow-up JSR to address all of the legal/licensing etc concerns (promises to be a humdinger of a mailing list).
    • They've gotten a number of major community players into the OpenJDK (some will argue dubiously, but hey having Apple, SAP, IBM, RedHat on board is not to be sneezed at).

    Now before the sceptics spit out their coffee:

    • Have they screwed up a bunch of times? Yeah sure they have, Hudson/Jenkins, the Java Web Start thing and a few others.
    • Do they communicate in a way that the community would like them to? Definitely not always, they like to keep silent until they get the official ducks in a row.
    • Are there issues around legal/licensing? Heck yes. and that's going to make for an interesting 2012, I suggest you become part of the JCP process so you can have your say.

    So there's definitely stuff to work on, but they are listening and the community has worked with them on many occasions in the past year to get some really cool things done. Let's not forget they're mainly individual engineers like you and I trying to do the very best they can for the platform.

    Now I'm off to put on my Kevlar ;-)

    • by karianna (917148)
      Meh - guess I still have a lot to learn about /. formatting, the preview certainly lies in Chrome Dev.
    • by javilon (99157)

      Lets say Google wins and Dalvik is legally cleared. We could code in Scala and run on a grown up Dalvik VM (I know it doesn't scale to big hardware, but that surely can be fixed). This would keep the investment in java APIs and skills and give us a gradual path to bypass all Oracle stuff.

      Then we could forget about Oracle forever. I would be really happy.

    • Did Oracle not get the memo that Java is free?

    • by t2t10 (1909766)

      I think Oracle's record with the Java community is turning around in the right direction

      The only "right direction" is for Oracle to destroy both Java and itself: Oracle is evil and Java is a disaster that is going nowhere fast.

      • by sgt101 (120604)

        I honestly just don't get the anti-java thing in the developer community.

        It's fantastic. It's amazing.

        Eclipse, testng, guice, java, hibernate : bloody marvelous.

        • Java is nice and fun to work with. I thoroughly enjoyed learning it but then I got a job in a big company doing Java and it was boring. That isn't Java's fault but the problem is most Java work is going to be in big boring companies.

          I also think it's painful to do web development with Java. It's improving but there are too many frameworks that all work the same way (ie with too much damn XML) and it sort of forces you to need a full blown IDE in order not to waste your time with it. I shouldn't need a fu
      • by karianna (917148)
        This always saddens me slightly, the Java platform/ecosystem has delivered and continues to deliver amazing things for developers, at the moment it's going throuhg a clear resurgence, so 'going nowhere fast' is I think somewhat incorrect. Like I said Oracle's done some good things and some not so good things, but they _are_ moving that platform forward and that's awesome for everyone involved in Java. Are there other cool technology stacks outside of Java? Hell yes, I love using other languages - Horses
    • I hope you're right but no offence, I'd be more likely to believe you've drank the kool-aid you shouldn't have drank.
      • by karianna (917148)
        I appreciate the sentiment, I think those who know me and have seen my various public statements over the last few years would agree I haven't started drinking from the kool-aid yet :-), but it's important to be challenged on that.
    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Are members of Jave user groups called juggalos?

  • Oracle has really missed the boat in relation to user sentiment and understanding of the market. There is a perception amongst management that it any MS or other vendor solution is going to be cheaper than an oracle one, this is largely true and I'll give you a couple of examples.
    The Oracle licensing model is bound to cores not CPUs, thus any other vendor can demonstrate that as infrastructure scales to more cores rather than CPUs Oracle licensing is going to bite you in the arse.
    Oracles take on virtual com

  • Oracle can't play well with others, and their own customers are "others."

    In the last few years, Oracle has gone from treating their customers with arrogance and contempt (their old model) to outright abuse. Every major Sun shop I know of has some Oracle DB stuff floating around, and most of them are not just dumping their Oracle/Sun gear and software, but even getting rid of their OracleDB instances as well.

    Customers cannot trust Oracle, and are upset over it. There are also more reasonable alternatives now

  • 'nuff said.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.

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