Oracles announcement Aug. 7 that the database giant is planning to get into the application lifecycle management tools represents just another challenge for one of the premier companies in the industry.
Will Oracle succeed? Sure. Depends on what you call success. As far as Im concerned, as long as Oracle makes a serious play for any market, I think its got a chance.
In the ALM tools space, Oracles definitely got a chance, because next to IBM, the field is open.
Of course, Microsoft is going to be in the running, because the company has set its sights on the ALM market and has put considerable might behind its Visual Studio Team System and Team Foundation Server offerings. Microsoft officials also hired a bunch of folks to come in and give them help where they needed it to build an enterprise-class developer tools suite.
Oracle officials, though they say they have a head start with some in-house talent, sre likely to do the same.
Ted Farrell, Oracles chief architect and vice president of tools and middleware, said Oracle will tap some of the developers from its Siebel group to help build out its tools. However, Farrell also said Oracle is in the process of hiring a guru to come in and help kick the Oracle ALM tools effort into gear. Im not sure who that is, but I guess well see soon enough.
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Doubters have weighed in, saying they dont expect Oracle to offer anything that is not tied to the Oracle database hub. One person even dubbed the Oracle pronouncement as "scare tactics."
But Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of development for Oracle middleware platform products—including Oracle Application Server and development tools—maintains that the Oracle ALM tools will be open and will play well with environments other than Oracles.
Said Kurian: "It will be plug-and-play with their existing investments, rather than being a monolithic system that comes in and says, Here is what youre going to use from Oracle, and if you want to use it, youve got to standardize on Oracle for absolutely everything."
The thing is, if Oracle truly takes the plunge, then it is going to make some hay in the ALM space. I, like a lot of others, doubted Oracles chances when it announced plans to enter the application server market. And while the company is still a distant third or fourth by varying estimates, its share is continuing to grow. I see Oracles chances in ALM space as being even better.
Meanwhile, I wont comment on the companys push into the Linux business. Its still a little early. Plus, thats a little outside of the part of the world that I watch.
In an interview on a different subject—but that fits well here—Jeremy Burton, CEO of ALM software maker Serena Software, said of Serena: "We absolutely need to be a credible alternative to IBM, which is the largest player in the market."
Burton couldnt have said it any better. If Oracle wants to have any level of success, it has to at least offer a credible alternative to IBM.
And Im not going to bet that they wont.
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