By Alex Williams
For Oracle, it’s about the machine, not the user; this became abundantly clear this week at Oracle Open World. Oracle talks the cloud talk but what the company is really doing is protecting its base and building engineered systems that, by all accounts, is extraordinary technology.
But its principles are wrong. I see little proof of humanity. What I do see are calibrated machines – homogenous and stacked in Oracle’s shiny red brand. But maybe that’s what people want in the end. For me, that is depressing as hell and counter to the swell of innovation that pushes me back every day like some gale force wind that picks me up and drops me into a new world. At every level of this altered place a creature pops up to remind me that the reality is not all that we see in a subterranean conference hall on the Bay.
I don’t get that sense of delight or fantasy with Oracle. The people there act like “serious” adults without the endless fascination of what really keeps people young. I don’t see that curiosity about the fellow in the the jeans and the t-shirt who looks at you through the mirror of another world, quizzically wondering about what joy comes from perpetuating old software stacks in new worlds.
I just don’t get it when I read Jack Clark’s post about Oracle being the Apple of the enterprise. Perhaps because I find proprietary IP companies a real danger to customers. It’s a bad idea to take them at their word. Good luck getting your data out of an Oracle system or an Oracle cloud. Get stuck in that trap and the world is more of a nightmare than anything else.
Yes, Oracle has developed an impressive infrastructure. Vinnie Mirchandani, one of the most respected analysts you will find, says he has “waited for over a decade to see an enterprise vendor – IBM, HP, SunGard, EMC, etc. – detail how they would deliver their promises of on-demand, utility cloud computing.” He says Oracle is shooting for the moon, bringing the real promise of utility computing.
Ray Wang of Constellation Research tells me that Oracle is meeting the needs of all its customers with cloud, hosting, and some form of quasi-multi-tenancy. I can accept that.
But even if it is all about the “system” and serving the thick middle, the price may be too much when the innovators can give you so much more than what it would cost a SaaS company to upgrade to Exadata.
Analyst Curt Monash puts it this way by saying that Oracle may get its way with some customers who just feel they have no other choice while others will move on. He made this remark on Twitter just a bit ago:
Oracle hasn’t announced features that actually have to do with multi-tenancy. Quite the contrary, actually.
I see that as saying Oracle is full of it. They use the term multi-tenancy simply to pull more customers into this belief that things can be so simple when you just buy their hardware. It’s a subtle form of cloud washing.
And that brings me to Podio, which represents a view that comes from the user. Podio provides building blocks so users can create their own apps for their particular style of work. It’s about the people more so than the machines.
I asked Podio Co-Founder Kasper Hulthin if perhaps Oracle is right and that people just don’t care.
“Nope,” he said. “There will always be a segment that want to do things the way they are told. But we are seeing people complain.” He cited Dropbox and its explosive growth and the number of other refreshing new services we see emerging.
And there you go. Podio and all the apps of another reality give me hope that all those creatures popping up are really our looking glass into a new world.
It’s a world of a new kind of work that you can’t get with an Oracle suite and big hardware.
I know it’s about business and systems and all. But I will fight that trapped view every day if it does not embrace that creativity that makes life so dynamic in the tech world. A world you can only find by entering a new reality.
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