Trust me, I'm big

Integration. An innocuous word and an expensive label for IT pain.

Best of breed. Another label, and one that big vendors have been chipping away at for years with the aim of making it synonymous with non integrated point solutions.

Vendor lock in. Another label, and one used in the same breath as "they'll have you over a barrel" by opponents of single-vendor sourcing.

These labels are stitched onto a modern software industry featuring big vendors always looking to grow revenues by taking the smaller players' turf. The smaller vendors scoff that their software is so superior that you would be mad to go with the behemoth. One such scoffer is BI market share leader Business Objects which claims that what Oracle does in its space just doesn't compete. Oracle's BI offerings include Oracle Daily Business Close, a tool to let executives gain a daily rundown on key metrics across all lines of their business. (Not that Oracle has turned its back on third-party developers, shipping tools as part of the 9i Developer Suite which include Reports, Discoverer, Warehouse Builder, Clickstream Intelligence, and Business Intelligence Bean.) Oracle's vision would have it as the supplier of an application server, database, and collaboration and messaging infrastructure unpinning a wide ranging e-business suite of applications. The benefit to you, according to Oracle's marketing, is "computing without compromise", with no integration hassles in an environment that meets high benchmarks in scalability, integrity, availability, security, manageability and affordability. (A paradox in the single vendor "affordability" goal is that it seems to be partly open-source based. For instance, it could involve Oracle 9i Database Real Application Clustering (RAC) software running on Linux and "commoditised" (ie cheap) Intel architecture hardware).

Obvious barriers to the Oracle vision include the relative and perceived quality of its applications suite and the fact that in the infrastructure layers - particularly for the recently unveiled collaboration suite - other vendors are already dominant.

So here's my question to Oracle - how could the company guarantee that customers who buy into the ‘Oracle-for-everything' vision will get what they need and not pay too much. I invite your answer on this page.

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