Commentary: Apple and Oracle – The Day Of The Systems


This Wednesday is a strange day for the IT world.

Today, Apple is finally ready to introduce its new tablet, after over nine months of speculation. Full of childlike anticipation, we wait for the man in the polo neck to present it later today.

Also nine months ago, Oracle first announced its plans to acquire Sun Microsystems. After an agonising wait, the EU has finally given the deal the go ahead. Larry Ellison has chosen this same day to deliver his five-hour long statement on the Oracle/Sun situation.

The Cards Will Be Reshuffled

Apple is colourful, stylish, consumer-orientated. Oracle is fully consistent with the ‘Enterprise.’ What do these two IT giants have in common?

Well, both offer complete systems – not individual products, not technology, not components. Apple can build beautiful, exciting phones that are also mobile Internet platforms. Apple is in partnership with iTunes, and always makes sure both the devices and the content work together beautifully. It’s highly proprietary, of course, but that’s just the proof that it works.

Oracle has (almost) everything it needs to become a full system provider for businesses. Hardware, operating system, programming platform, middleware, enterprise solutions, databases. Oh, and an Office Suite. Perhaps the only thing missing is networking expertise.

Earlier this week, Ellison told the New York Times:

“You will now be buying this complete system, and do not have to hire IBM or someone else to assemble it for you. ” Larry Ellison.

With their comprehensive packages, Apple and Oracle leave rivals Google, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Dell in the shade. Major changes are afoot in the IT industry.

Java: The Power Of The Trade Marks

In the Java world, the end of the company that invented Java has been met with remarkable equanimity. This indicates a confidence in the stability of the Java Community Process (JCP) and the power of Java’s open-source license.

But what they significantly underestimate, is the power of the Trademarks. Who has the trademark rights, has the most leverage. Open-source licensing is a treacherous and largely unexplored minefield. The Trademark, meanwhile, is a strong weapon. We can only guess how Oracle will handle its new responsibility within the Java community. But one thing is for certain: Sun was a technology amorous company that always had a hard time with the monetisation of its products. Oracle, however, is a tough salesperson.

Although Oracle will certainly be statesmanlike and emphasise its awareness of its responsibility to the Java community. But I still wonder how Ellison’s strategists could possibly be aware of the potential tools at their disposal, and not use them.

And The Other Movers And Shakers In The IT world?

For SAP, the whole thing is a nightmare. Since the beginning of the millennium, the German flagship software giant has relied on the Java Enterprise platform – which now reports to their arch-rival Oracle. You can guarantee that Walldorf is closely watching Oracle’s every move – and at the same time tinkering with alternatives to the Oracle/Sun Enterprise systems. SAP is displaying a significant shift towards open source issues in general and Eclipse in particular.

Still, SAP is one of the few companies that have make their stance clear right from the start. In his blog post, ‘Freedom for Java’ CTO of SAP, Vishal Sikka calls for Oracle to keep Java truly open source. He published the post on the 9th November – the day the Berlin Wall fell.

Over the next few months, Eclipse will also be keeping a close eye on how the Java Enterprise is being developed. Should there ever be any uncertainty in the future of the Java Enterprise, Eclipse is in a position to offer an alternative. EclipseLink, Jetty, and the SOA framework Swordfish are currently being developed under the umbrella of the Eclipse Runtime Project. They are all Java-based, but not Java Enterprise compliant.


Anyone watching tonight’s webcast with expectations of a clear statement on Oracle’s plans for Java, are probably going to be disappointed. But the statements of Ellison & Co will provide a base for all sorts of interpretations and speculations. I will certainly spend this evening in front of the computer watching the webcast, and trying to keep up with Apple news at the same time…….

PS: The webcast will take place today at 17.00 GMT. You can register now at Oracle’s official website.

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