Page Two

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2003-04-14 Print this article Print

The database industry had been consolidating for years, culminating in IBMs purchase of Informix. Now there are only three or four legitimate database players.

But Ellison is still wrong. Getting rid of companies doesnt solve the problem. First of all, Ellison doesnt see mergers as an efficient method of vendor consolidation. He says companies should simply disappear—and go bankrupt—just get completely out of the business and get the heck out of Oracles way. I fail to see how mass bankruptcies can help an industry. When companies disappear, products disappear. That means less competition on features and price. Why would that be good?

IT pros may lament the sheer number of product choices, but even with one vendor, called for example, Oracle, youd still have a lot of products. And these products would be subject to internal corporate politics rather than outside competitive pressures. Why would that be better? Either that or the remaining companies could roll all their technologies into a few different products and come out with something like Power Units pricing. Oops—Oracle did that, and it didnt work.

Another plausible alternative is what is happening at IBM—which has so many WebSphere-branded products that even product managers within IBM cant figure out whats going on. The only difference that consolidation makes is that its easier for the CFO to cut checks to a single company. Thats not a good-enough reason to give up choice.

Whats more, there are plenty of product markets that are growing, which means there is a need for them. There are dozens of niche companies that have specialties in areas like geocoding, security and application integration, a market in which Oracle participates only because of its relationship with a small Silicon Valley company. If that small company disappeared, Oracle wouldnt play in the enterprise integration space. Can you spell "IBM bait"?

Its been almost two years since Cisco CEO John Chambers said the IT downturn is like a 100-year flood, catching everyone off guard and laying waste to an industry. Since then, the deluge has only gotten worse. Maybe a good old-fashioned 500-year flood would make us all better people. Thats basically what Ellison is saying. If he really believes that, Oracle must be in worse shape than hes letting on because the only beneficiary of fewer vendors would be Oracle. Would it be better for anyone else? I dont buy it.

Most Recent Stories by John Taschek:

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel