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Predicting Oracle's future

Robyn Lorusso, Site Editor

Predicting the course Oracle Corp. will travel, or which direction Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will steer it, isn't a simple task. However, I'm willing to bet (a small amount) on the following predictions for Oracle in 2004. What about you? Send your thoughts to our SoundOff forum, and we'll compare notes. Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Grid technology. Oracle spent tons of money and time this year talking about grid technology, and its new DBMS product, Oracle10g. Many of the new features in 10g are already getting rave reviews, but the same critical praise has yet to be heard for Oracle's grid computing campaign. Grid computing will have its day in the sun, but I think Oracle users who upgrade to 10g in 2004 will be seeking to ease database administration workloads rather than pursuing this enterprise-immature technology.

RAC on Linux.On the other hand, I think Oracle's Real Application Clusters (RAC) on Linux strategy is finally going to gain traction. Several successful case studies, showing Oracle customers saving big bucks with RAC on Linux, have recently grabbed headlines. The proliferation of the open source Linux platform in data centers, and the proven benefits of RAC on Linux, will translate to higher adoption rates in 2004.

The PeopleSoft saga. Oracle's attempted takeover of PeopleSoft is one bid that I don't see the company winning -- for several reasons: Oracle and PeopleSoft don't provide complementary offerings

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(often an important factor in a merger's success); the Department of Justice investigation into the matter could mean more trouble; PeopleSoft continues to try to block the acquisition; and PeopleSoft stock has been trading at a higher value than Oracle's current bid of $19.50 a share. Oracle may be prepared to fight to the end, but I think it'll wind up the sore loser.

New DBA job market. An increase in offshore outsourcing and the advent of database management automation tools are likely to have an even greater impact on DBAs. Traditional DBA jobs will become scarce, and those positions that are available will require DBAs to acquire new business skills. DBAs will not only have to manage the database, but also application development, operating systems support, network support, etc. Until the economy recovers, DBAs should be prepared to wear several hats if they want to keep a job, or find a new one.

The competitive landscape. As IBM and Microsoft introduce new, more appealing offerings, Oracle continues to make hollow promises to customers -- who have heard it all before. Oracle's promised price cuts apparently only apply to its midmarket Standard One Edition, a single-CPU version of its flagship database. Meanwhile, IBM continues its database success, helped by DB2's Content Management feature. At the same time, Microsoft's Yukon, the next generation of SQL Server, has automated features that make it a threat to both Oracle and IBM. A combination of innovation, service and reasonable pricing is working for these two Oracle challengers. Unless Oracle focuses on customer demands, it will have difficulty maintaining its market position.


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