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Ellison winds up rivals with stack-in-a-box vision

Boxes off Oracle OpenWorld

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He's doing this using a bought-in Sun server, storage and minor networking, business, that has jewels in its crown but whose crown lost a lot of lustre during the years of Jonathan Schwartz' stewardship. It's going to take time and he's pissing off partners like Dell, HP, EMC and NetApp on whose systems customers run an awfully large number of Oracle databases.

Centralise - distribute - centralise cycle

They are all involved in their own stack-in-a-box initiatives, with HP arguably leading - it simply has more of the pieces in-house - which they can sell into their own customer bases. Some observers say there is nothing new here. IT has always operated on a centralise-distribute-centralise-distribute cycle - and the mainframe gave way to distributed systems with these now starting to give way to a reinvented mainframe integrating distributed systems elements.

Okay, but so what? Where does that leave external storage vendors? Effectively it leaves them out in the cold, having to ally with part-system vendors to build stack-in-a-box lookalikes. Oracle will lose no time in saying that VCE, the VMware Cisco EMC coalition, is just that, a coalition, and simply cannot react as fast, as decisively and as continuously, a key, key, aspect, as Oracle can. Or, we might note, as well as Dell, HP and IBM can when they put their shoulders to their own stack-in-a-box IT wheels.

They each have their own in-house storage and O/S and server operations and don't need external suppliers. They'll push an open, message, warning customers not to get locked in to Oracle but, as they are busy developing their own walled-in IT gardens while saying they use industry-stand interfaces, such warnings will be weakened.

Hopeless IT mess

Yes, Oracle is pushy and pricy and its CEO is a a man of apparently gargantuan competitiveness who over-eagerly shoots from the hip, but look at what he has done. In truth Michael Dell, Sam Palmisano, Joe Tucci, John Chambers and Tom Georgens and whoever gets the HP top job all know Ellison is right. They're all at it, building their own stack-in-a-box or working out how to become part of someone else's.

Apple and Oracle are right. They believe walled IT gardens have better IT flowers than open meadows and they think, they really do, that customers want 'em because it's the only way to take the ghastly, costly, hopeless mess that is corporate IT, put it behind layers of virtualising abstraction, and make it do what it should be doing with the minimum of fuss; run corporate applications simply, reliably, fast and cost-effectively.

The golden years of externally-attached storage may be drawing to a close. Vendors of such better start preparing to get inside a walled IT stack garden via acquisition or OEM arrangements, or go look for real secure and defensible market niches. ®

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