Oracle is the Borg: Enterprise Software Development Will Be Assimilated

Oracle made some moves this week that look like the opening pawn moves in a master chess game.  The end game will have Oracle having a controlling position in every aspect of Enterprise software development.

First of all, Oracle has removed InnoDB from the MySQL Classic Edition. Now, you can still get the GPL community edition that has InnoDB in it.  But if you want support, you’ll have to buy their version.  Oh, and they just raised the price on that.  I’m not sure if they require it or not, but if you use Linux Oracle prefers that you run their software on THEIR version of Linux – a customized Red Hat.  This week they also released plans for the JVM that will include a free version and a premium paid version.  Oh, and if you want some new hardware that will really make it all work well together, they can sell you that too (they bought Sun, remember?).

So it’s pretty clear to me that Oracle is playing for keeps, and playing to own the Enterprise space.  Want to use a database?   Buy Oracle, or use MySQL… but if you want support, you pay them.  Then you pay them for Linux.   Then license the JVM.  Then license the app server (they bought BEA last year, so WebLogic is all theirs now too).  Want to code in Java?  Well, they own that too.  Business folks call this “owning the vertical.”

Watch for them to take even more steps to make sure that they have control points around as many places they can.  Nearly all software that gets written is business application software.  Clearly Oracle has been embedded firmly there for a long time – but these moves are enveloping and will sink hooks into so many more places.   I predict that when Google and Oracle settle – and they will eventually, since the cost to litigate a huge patent battle does no good for either party – that Oracle will get some hooks into mobile as well.  Maybe some email integration, or provisioning, or something deep and fundamental.

So watch out, stay alert, and think about your tools.  Or you too will be assimilated.

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21 comments to Oracle is the Borg: Enterprise Software Development Will Be Assimilated

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  • James Wisemann

    I think it is fair to understand what gherlein here is trying to achieve. Truth is, Java and dotnet are the platforms with the largest ecosystems in the enterprise world. Examples of Twitter and Facebook as exception are in fact untrue as these two companies heavily rely on Java technology these days. I am a software director for a medium sized company and inasmuch as I have extensively used python, PHP etc before, eventually Java’s name and ecosystem carry the day for us, with dotnet as the closest alternative. Oracle owning Java is IMO a larger cause to worry that MySQL, Weblogic etc for the very reasons that Java is now quite ubiquitous and synonymous with enterprise development (the whole world over, not just corporate America, read Boeing). We as a company are frantically looking for alternatives early and plan to begin migrating to any suitable dev platforms ASAP before the Borg makes us understand that resistance is indeed futile.

  • “The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is in a difficult position. The nonprofit organization can’t certify that its open source Java runtime implementation—called Harmony—is compatible with Java standards because Oracle has refused to make the necessary test suites available under a suitable license. Oracle’s decision to block Apache’s Harmony project from being recognized as standards-compliant falls afoul of the rules that govern Java standardization and has raised serious questions about the openness of the programming language.”

    http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2010/11/apache-foundation-to-vote-down-java-7-protesting-oracle-abuses.ars?

    When the only Java implementation that can be certified is from Oracle, and your CIO wants a support contract and your General Counsel wants someone they can hold accountable, you will have to buy Oracle. And once the hook is set, they can roll you up. And yes, you will then be assimilated.

  • Awesome post!
    Oracle has more features compare to other. It is interesting post. I will be trying.

  • Tim

    “IP” is a loaded term. Do you mean copyright, patent, or trademark? The issues involved are very different. If Oracle wants me to stop calling it “MySQL” (like Mozilla doesn’t want distributors to call their builds “Firefox”), I’d be perfectly fine with that.

    Yeah, so they increased the price of their support. That doesn’t have anything to do with licensing. Yeah, I’m sure they “prefer” you use their Linux, but again, that doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with any form of IP. Exactly what action are they going to take that’s going to cause trouble?

    I’ve been using Linux, and Java, and MySQL for years, and in all the hundreds (thousands?) of times I’ve had to get support, I’ve never once paid the copyright holder of the program for it. One of the big benefits of free software is that I can get whomever I want to support it. Since all of this software is GPL, how are they going to force me to go to them for support?

    I just don’t see it.

  • Tim

    When I worked on functional integration at Boeing (160,000 employees, founded 1916), all the teams I worked with, directly or indirectly, used Python exclusively. They were already using it when I got there, so I didn’t have to ‘sell’ it to Dr. Tracy myself, though I would assume that such decisions were made at a rather lower level of the organization.

    I’ve worked in many companies, in many industries, and doesn’t get any more “enterprisey” than Boeing. Almost every single event from “Office Space” happened during my short tenure there, from the guy who loved kung fu movies and the token Indian, to the printer error message and the mumbler.

    I think you have a very selective view of the world if you think that only Google and “tiny startups” use Python and Ruby.

  • It’s assimilation when they have IP hooks that bind you after the fact. Once you make a serious investment in Java and they pull you closer I fear that in coming years your choices of non-Oracle third party solutions will become non-existent. That’s assimilation.

  • Facebook uses PHP and Erlang. Twitter started with RoR. I don’t think either are tiny startups. And no, I avoided the Microsoft Borg a decade ago, thanks.

  • I have no problem with support. The articles I read indicate it was Sun that removed InnoDB. Worth looking into though. I stand by my overall assessment though. Oracle is making moves to bind Enterprise software development more closely to their technology stack. That’s not BAD. It just IS. And as technologists, it’s well worth seeing the trend and choosing our tools accordingly.

  • Joerg Bruehe

    Your “first of all” claim (about Oracle) is plain wrong: it was MySQL AB who came up with the “classic” edition that doesn’t contain InnoDB.
    Paying for MySQL support is also no new invention, much of MySQL AB’s revenue were support contracts.
    So if the basic assumptions are wrong …

  • Martin

    Since you listed Python, Ruby, and C# as “enterprisey” language alternates to Java, I assume you already tried selling your CTO the first two, and that the third’s company hasn’t already assimilated you/him.

    If it worked, congrats, you already work at Google or for a tiny startup. If not, you may have begun to realise what “assimilation” is being talked about here.

  • Tim

    I don’t see ‘assimilation’ — even Oracle isn’t dumb enough to think they can control everything. They just want to have at least one answer for every layer of the stack. (“Hi Oracle, I need hardware, an OS, a database, a programming language, …” “We can help!”)

    Other big tech companies today can do this, so it behooves Oracle to do the same to compete. (Apple mostly can except the database and perhaps server hardware, Microsoft has basically everything except the actual hardware which they’re happy to let you buy anywhere, and Google can if you don’t need to host the hardware yourself.)

    Just because Oracle has one programming language, two databases, etc., doesn’t mean they “own” all enterprise development.

    I can’t imagine Oracle getting any “hooks” into Ruby or Python or C#, or Postgres or Firebird or SQLServer, or FreeBSD or Windows, or … I can name “perfectly usable platforms Oracle is never going to touch” all day long.

    This is just Oracle’s M.O., the same one they’ve been using for decades: if you want something that’s really “enterprisey”, they will let you pay them a ton of money, and they will do something. It won’t be the best at anything, but it will probably be pretty good, and your CTO will approve.

  • Anders Karlsson

    MySQL Classic has never had InnoDB in it. Ever. It has not “been removed by Oracle”, it wasn’t there when MySQL was MySQL, nor when Sun was MySQL.

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  • Looks like I am really going to have to hurry up and move off using MySql. Luckily I hate Java, so I don’t have any code to port away of that.

    First they try and kill any open source projects of Sun’s, then they up their prices. Not nice, I don’t like it.