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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

Editor's Note: More articles and resourcesare available in Colin's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

October 2006 Archives

It’s been a busy two weeks for me having attended both the IBM Information on Demand and Oracle Open World conferences. Over the coming week I’ll provide some comments on both events. The topic that got many people’s attention of course was Oracle’s announcement of Oracle Unbreakable Linux and its likely impact on Red Hat.

The Oracle Linux announcement was the main theme of Larry Ellison’s keynote. I must admit I was disappointed with the keynote. Given the influence Oracle has on the market I expected more of a visionary speech from Ellison. Instead we got basic PowerPoint slides containing pricing data for Linux support that is normally the domain of the sales folks. It was a shame because Oracle unveiled some innovative products and technologies at the event. I guess I should also mention that the first twenty minutes of the keynote was taken up with the NASDAQ closing ceremony that was full of photo opportunities, but of little interest to the audience.

The keynote outlined the reasons why Oracle had decided to provide Red Hat Linux support in competition with Red Hat. The reasons given were valid. Large enterprises moving to Linux want to be reassured that they will get good and fast support to their problems, and want to be isolated from lawsuits by the sharks at SCO. Oracle feels that Red Hat is not providing adequate support. Some good references to discussions on this topic can be found in Pete Loshin’s blog on the Oracle Linux announcement.

The obvious motivation of Oracle is to encourage customers to move to Linux, rather than Microsoft operating platforms. The weight of Oracle behind Linux gives credibility to the product and also to open source solutions. It remains to be seen what the long term impact of this announcement is on Red Hat. It demonstrates the problems faced by so-called commercial open source vendors who make their income on support, services and education. If they are successful they face the risk of being undercut by a software giant like Oracle.

Red Hat does have a number of other products in addition to Linux, such as the JBoss product set (which Red Hat competed with Oracle to acquire). Ellison was asked if Oracle would support these additional Red Hat applications, and he replied this might be a possibility in the future.

The other risk to commercial open source products and their customers is acquisition of the product by a vendor like Oracle. I wonder if Oracle has a hidden agenda of driving down the value of Red Hat in order to acquire it at a later date at a lower price. The issue here of course is the open source community. I believe open source can only succeed if the community fully supports the vendor. If Oracle acquires Red Hat how will the community react?

As a side note, it was interesting to note that during the keynote one speaker referred to Ellison as Uncle Larry. I must admit this is not the image I have of Ellison. After the keynote I did a quick scan on the Internet to see if there had been any immediate reaction to the Oracle Linux announcement. One of the news feeds compared Ellison to Ghengis Kahn, which of course offers up a very different image than Uncle Larry.

Posted October 30, 2006 4:32 PM
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Last night while flying back from IBM's Information on Demand Conference (I'll report on this in an upcoming blog) I experienced an interesting situation while going through airport security. The lady in front of me asked me what was the maximum size of toothpaste tube she could hand carry through security. I told her three ounces. She then took out her six ounce tube, which was just under half full, and squeezed the toothpaste down to the end. After I went through security, the lady was waiting for me. She told me that for future reference TSA told her that half of six is not three -- the toothpaste tube has to be a maximum size of three onces even if it is half empty. Richard Hackathorn who was with me at the time was carrying an empty water container and I wondered if security would confiscate it on the grounds that it didn't matter it it contained water or not. They didn't. We then wondered if the toothpaste tube had been empty would TSA still have confiscated it. And you think IT has problems with business rules!

Posted October 20, 2006 1:24 PM
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Other blogs on the BI Network have already covered Oracle's proposed acquisition of Sunopsis and so I won't repeat the details here. The only point to add is that although Sunopsis will likely continue to support non-Oracle data sources it will become an Oracle product. This means that any partnerships with companies such as Netezza, for example, are dead.

The question is, where next for Oracle? There have been some interesting rumors floating around the analyst communities of late about possible BI acquisitions. One says Oracle will acquire Business Objects, while another says Cognos will be acquired by IBM. I have also heard a rumor about a possible Cognos and Hyperion merger. Who knows how much truth there is to these rumors. It does suggest though that maybe the days of the independent BI vendor are possibly numbered. Perhaps it's time to look at open source BI! Also if any of of these acquisitions takes place where does it leave SAP?

Posted October 12, 2006 6:32 PM
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