Oracle CEO Ellison Vows To Whip IBM In Hardware - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
9/23/2009
04:04 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Oracle CEO Ellison Vows To Whip IBM In Hardware

In a rare public interview, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison pledged to give IBM the same sort of beatdown in the hardware business that Oracle's given IBM in the software business. Short-term, though, he said Sun-his not-so-secret anti-IBM weapon-is losing $100 million a month.

In a rare public interview, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison pledged to give IBM the same sort of beatdown in the hardware business that Oracle's given IBM in the software business. Short-term, though, he said Sun-his not-so-secret anti-IBM weapon-is losing $100 million a month.From a SeekingAlpha.com summary of Ellison's comments:

"We've already beaten IBM in software, now, if everyone will let us, we will beat IBM in hardware," Ellison said. "That is our goal."

The "if everyone will let us" was a direct reference to the European Commission busybodies who have been unfairly-and unconscionably-nailing Oracle by holding up approval of its acquisition of Sun due to some mushroom-induced fantasy that Oracle will quash MySQL (though it can't) or that customer choice will be stifled (though MySQL databases don't compete with Oracle's).

This petulant dalliance by the EC throne-sniffers, which I explored in detail last week in "Oracle Nailed By EU Protectionism As HP And IBM Raid Sun", has turned Sun temporarily into a lame-duck franchise and competitors are understandably swooping in and offering aggressive promotions to convince CIOs to jettison Sun and thereby Oracle.

That fleecing has severely compounded the financial challenges Sun was facing before the Oracle deal, with the upshot being that Sun is hemorrhaging $100 million per month while the EC has it locked in legal limbo. Ellison offered this perspective in a MercuryNews.com article:

"The longer this takes, the more money Sun is going to lose, and that's not good for anybody," Ellison said while speaking to an after-dinner audience at the Fairmont San Jose hotel, in an event organized by the nonprofit Churchill Club. "We want to get this done," he said of the acquisition, adding that he wants "to save as many jobs as we can."

But probably the most-interesting comments from Ellison had to do with his feelings toward IBM, a long-time rival in databases and middleware that Ellison has always gone after aggressively in his comments to financial analysts about how thoroughly Oracle was thrashing IBM in that sector. In this rare interview, Ellison expressed an entirely different set of sentiments toward IBM than he's ever even hinted at in all the coverage of Ellison I've come across or been involved in. Here's what he said via the SeekingAlpha.com piece:

Larry Ellison loves IBM Corp. but what he'd love even more is to beat the technology giant on as many fronts as possible. At a Churchill Club event in Silicon Valley Monday night, the Oracle Corp. CEO idolized Thomas J. Watson, who developed IBM into one of the most powerful sales organizations and served as its president from the 1920s through the 1950s.

"T.J. Watson's company was the greatest company in the history of the enterprise," Ellison said. "We want to be T.J. Watson's IBM."

Among other highlights captured in that piece: Ellison would advise young entrepreneurs to pursue biotech ventures instead of those in the computing field because it's "maturing"; and, Ellison voted for President Obama but said he's "surprised there are so many huge spending programs we are facing."

I think we'll just leave that at that.

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