Never in its history has Oracle had to appeal to such a diverse customer population and this situation has resulted in some remarkable sights and sounds at the companys OpenWorld convention this week.
After buying no less than 10 companies this year, Oracle Corp. had to set a strikingly conciliatory tone aimed at convincing customers that it was going to be all things to all its constituents.
Since its founding, Oracle had the freedom to pursue an independent technological course that best suited its database and applications.
That means that the idea of building significant products linked with IBM DB2 or IBM middleware—unless it helped siphon DB2 data into Oracle databases—was an anathema.
But when you buy 10 separate companies you are also buying their technology and business partnerships. This makes for strange bedfellows as Oracle finds it must support WebSphere and DB2 for the Siebel, Retek and I-flex product lines.
Larry Ellison was the only executive in the IT industry who could seem taciturn even when he was giving a keynote speech.
He would frequently come on the stage without notes and sometimes without even the typical PowerPoint presentation and make a few welcoming remarks or a brief statement outlining the big news of the day before engaging the audience in a question and answer session.
But at OpenWorld Ellison made a concession to the many new customer constituencies in the hall this year by actually reading from prepared notes, which appeared to be one folded page with a double-spaced list of all the points he wanted to make about his companys product strategy.
Ellison certainly owed it to all his new customers to make some clear statements about what kind of service and support it could expect from his company.
His most significant statement was that Oracle will certify the new versions of the PeopleSoft, Siebel and other applications for DB2 and WebSphere.
This may seem like a major concession for Oracle. But it really is just basic good business sense. If Oracle values the installed base of these newly acquired products, it isnt going to rapidly devalue them by setting an early date for the end of DB2 support.
Its a heterogeneous world and Oracle has to work with a lot of companies and customers that work with both DB2 and WebSphere.