Perhaps the apparently incongruous remarks from Oracle president Mark Hurd foretell a shift in direction for his company. That was my thought when I read ReadWrite‘s piece, “Red Hat to Oracle: Have You Tried Free?” However, writer Matt Asay seems to see Hurd’s comments as either hypocritical or simply odd. What comments, you ask? Ah, let me back up.
Asay compares two posts that appeared on a LinkedIn blog platform a few weeks apart. The first, from Red Hat‘s CEO Jim Whitehurst, describes the way his company succeeds through the sale of affordable but valuable add-ons to open source projects. The key, he says, is creating an equation in which both customer and vendor benefit. We’re all for that.
Soon thereafter, Oracle’s Hurd contributed a post that appears to favor the open source approach by suggesting organizations adopt newer, cheaper technology. This despite the fact that his company seems to embody the very opposite of that concept. Asay explains:
“Hurd’s post is somewhat surreal. Basically, it reads like an anti-Oracle screed, talking up the need for CIOs to do more with less, talking down legacy enterprise apps and infrastructure, but conveniently overlooking the fact that it Oracle that dominates IT budgets—and not in a good way. He derides applications and their underlying infrastructure that are 20 years old (some of Oracle’s applications are 20 years old and its database is even older), insisting that ‘they require enormous funding to keep them fed and watered—and that’s why there’s nothing left over for innovation.’
“According to Gartner’s recently released vendor rating for Oracle, Hurd should know. The Redwood Shores giant gets positive marks for its technology, and improved ratings on support. The one area that it went from bad to worse? Pricing.”
Yes, that Gartner vendor rating also shows that—what with price increases, complex license metrics, and ballooning audits—dealing with Oracle gives IT buyers plenty of headaches. Asay cites those increased audits as evidence that the company is trying to get the most from existing contracts, probably because more businesses are indeed turning to newer, cheaper options. He also calls Hurd’s post “audacious” for suggesting that the cost of outdated systems is hampering businesses, since much of that legacy comes straight from Oracle. See the article for more of Asay’s analysis.
But what if Hurd is really signaling a change of course? Perhaps the company will embrace the open source model. If so, is it too late for Oracle to catch up to companies like Red Hat? Another burning question: will open source revenue now fund America’s Cup yachts?
Cynthia Murrell, September 29, 2013
Phi Beta Iota: This is real simple. Oracle, IBM, Google, Microsoft, all headed for a crash.