Comment I have on my bookshelf a book called "Why do people hate America?" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, which explores the cultural and other reasons why large segments of the world - in the Middle East, the developing world and Europe - really do hate America. It occurred to me that while there are a good many people that loathe Microsoft, this is typically at the individual user level, whereas it is Oracle that tends to be the target for competitive vendors.
Consider the database market. Which vendor is being targeted by SQL Server 2005 and for which Microsoft has specific facilities for migrating customers from that environment? Oracle. Now think of IBM: which supplier does it see as the arch-enemy for DB2 and who is it targeting with its latest marketing campaign? Oracle. Who was the principal target for CA's million dollar challenge for the Ingres open source environment? Oracle.
Now, the question is this: is this just spleen or is it because these companies (and others) see weaknesses in Oracle. I don't see how Oracle can have it any other way. Lots of rivals are specifically targeting them. Is this simply motivated by hatred or even dislike? It seems unlikely that major organisations would act on this sort of basis. This means that they think Oracle is vulnerable. Now, they could be wrong but with lots of vendors targeting Oracle that seems improbable.
So, Oracle is vulnerable: this is a startling conclusion but it seems justified by the facts. The question is, why? Why would rivals think that they can lure users away from 10g, especially as Release 2 has a lot of advanced features that, at least in some cases, cannot be matched by its competitors? Of course there will be individual circumstances when this may make sense and to a certain extent you can try and capitalise on traditional worries about Oracle management requirements but, given the strides forward that Oracle has taken in this release, and the last few, this hardly seems enough to build a marketing campaign on.
In fact, IBM is specifically targeting Oracle in terms of security and lock-in (it is giving away "Oracle handcuffs"), while Microsoft and CA are both talking about cost of ownership. These companies probably also think that Oracle may take its eye off the ball thanks to its acquisition of PeopleSoft and others. However, I think there is more to it than that.
Oracle 10g is awfully big. 10g isn't just about the database it is also about the application server and a whole bunch of other things. This, I think, is the key. Oracle is a bit like the British Government - it appears to be building a nanny state: it is all embracing. While some people like that, others feel smothered and thus there are opportunities to lure people away to a freer environment - a bit like the difference between socialism (a la Tony Blair) and liberalism (of the Adam Smith variety). You don't get the impression from Oracle that it really believes in co-operation; it is easy to think that it merely pays lip service to interoperability, for example.
Now, these are my impressions and impressions can be misleading. Nevertheless, if these impressions are valid and if they affect the marketplace then Oracle's marketing machine is misfiring. Certainly its competitors seem to think so.
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