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Is Oracle really the next Microsoft?

Analysis of the BEA acquisition from Reg reader input

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On the positive side, one of the strongest sentiments was that rescuing a genuinely enterprise class solution-set that was in danger of fading away was a good move for customers. Many felt that while BEA’s technology was good, the company itself was struggling to maintain its position, and that the power of a bigger player like Oracle that can duke it out quite happily with the likes of IBM and Microsoft was just what was required. This leads us to the biggest talking point around the Oracle/BEA deal – that of choice and competition – and there are two very different ways of looking at this.

Champion against Big Blue control, or the industry’s next Microsoft?

Considering relative capabilities in a bit more detail, some make the argument that while Oracle’s middleware solution was ‘good enough’ when the requirement was for an enabling component within an overall solution stack offering, it was certainly not up to head to head competition with IBM’s WebSphere for more strategic middleware requirements. With BEA lacking the necessary clout, SAP still largely viewed as proprietary, and other players not being large enough to make a huge difference outside of their respective niches, the danger was that IBM would run away with the J2EE application server and SOA market, particularly at the higher end. Injecting BEA’s heavyweight technical capability into the Oracle machine potentially neutralises this threat of IBM becoming too dominant.

Here are some examples of respondent quotes that relate to this argument:

“This will add pressure to the leader (IBM WebSphere). BEA was too small to compete. Oracle was not seen as a J2EE platform. Now, Oracle can drop its J2EE container and become a serious/credible competitor.”

“The acquisition of BEA means that Oracle is now a credible alternative to IBM.”

“It will turn up the heat on IBM [and is] overall a good thing for J2EE.”

“I believe a bit of consolidation is a good thing and should stamp out any of these 'extensions' the likes of IBM want to put into future J2EE products providing M$ type lock-in.”

It has to be said, though, that around twice as many respondents focused on the negative side of the competition and choice dimension. Quotes such as these, for example, were much more common:

“This move shrinks the number of independent yet significant players in the IT industry.”

“My big problem with the continued consolidation of IT into mega corporations is that it stifles choice and innovation. “

“There is already too much consolidation in the industry, Oracle is mighty enough.”

“Reduces competition, places more power in the hands of an already massive player.”

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