Oracle-DOJ: What We Learned Last Week

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-06-14 Print this article Print

Opinion: I was right: Paying attention paid off. We now know why J.D. Edwards flunked the big-enterprise contest; that Microsoft likely fibbed; and that Judge Walker is confused.

Lets cut to the chase: What exactly have we learned after the first week of the DOJ-Oracle trial? Microsoft made overtures to SAP. Yes, Microsoft, which told the DOJ it had no intention of entering the market for large enterprise software anytime soon, confessed that it had cozied up to SAP last year to discuss a possible merger. The deal didnt come to pass—the size of it, after all, would dwarf an Oracle-PeopleSoft combination and send antitrust regulators through the roof—but it provides what most consider to be clear evidence that Microsoft was being—ahem—"disengenous," shall we say, with the DOJ.
Oracle discounts its software by as much as 70 percent. Keith block, Oracles executive vice president, admitted in videotaped testimony that the company cuts software costs by as much as 70 percent when the competition is fierce enough to warrant such aggressive pricing tactics.
In addition, as Enterprise Applications Center Editor John Pallatto reported from the trial floor, Oracles former senior vice president of North American application sales, Paul Ciandrini, said in videotaped testimony that in one case where PeopleSoft and Oracle were going head-to-head—for a deal with Hallmark Corp. that Oracle eventually won—price quotes that started around $2 million wound up getting slashed to about $1.2 million. Thats a huge discount off the list price. Its good to know that Oracle will go to such extremes. But will that insight into Oracles sales tactics be usable if Oracle manages to acquire PeopleSoft? Will there be competitive instances where Oracle is pushed to the wall to the same degree as PeopleSoft evidently achieved? Therein lies the nub of the trial, but in the meantime, it sure cant hurt to know how far the company can go. Next page: IBM, Microsoft and Siebel are eyeing the enterprise applications market.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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