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The Oracle Syndrome: why there are no big bangs

November 19, 2007 5 comments

I was thinking this week about Oracle. You remember them. The big database company that decided that it would be a big packaged applications company and a big middleware company. I have to give them credit for swooping in and buying their way into a leadership position. While it is hard to buy companies and keep them going, in the packaged software arena it isn’t as hard as it looks. For example, customers who buy a PeopleSoft HR application are not going to dump it just because the company was purchased by Oracle. Software is a funny thing — it lingers for decades after everyone assumed that it would be dead. As I always say, old software never dies.

So, what is my point about the Oracle Syndrome? The reality is that Oracle is not about innovation. It is about leveraging a captive installed base. It is about stitching together packaged applications with business process connectors so that one package can send an piece of data to another application.

Therefore, forget about Fusion middleware. Rather than a big bang common platform under all of Oracle’s packaged applications, it is a slow methodical revamping of small components of Oracle’s applications. It will take decades before Oracle could claim to have a common infrastucture under its applications.

I think that this is the future of software. No big bangs. Incremental business focused innovation will be the rule — not the exception. Does this mean that there will be no unexpected innovations? Of course not. There will be innovations that come out of nowhere and transform the world of software. However, they will not be overnight wonders — the most important innovations take years even decades before they mature and change the world overnight.