18 August 2010

Black, No Cream, No Sugar

The Oracle/Google fight is too interesting not to write about. I've, until now, only contributed to various posts on various blogs, so here's my latest (from an Artima thread), somewhat expanded.

- java *is* Oracle's core, even before the buyout (more later)

- java ME is a bust, but Dalvik is a winner. If you're Oracle why not try to get some of that pie? They'll waste a lot of time and money if Google doesn't settle "Real Soon Now", which I don't they will.

- to the extent that cloud, SaaS, PaaS, WhateveraaS gains mindshare, Oracle either needs to quash it or get a wagon for the wagon train. This attack could accomplish either; Dalvik is made to go away, or Oracle gets it through a free cross-license. I mean, why not run Oracle Financials on a big Droid? Why not? It's not much different, semantically, from OF/*nix/VT-220, just with pixels. Folks run around warehouses today with tablets and WiFi, why not go all the way?

- there was a time when COBOL was the language of the corporation (still is in some parts of some corporations), and there was/is an ANSI standard COBOL, but no one bothered much with it (in the corporation). IBM had its own version, and that runs on its mainframes/minis. Oracle has made java the language of its corporate applications. It might be, they think, a Good Thing if there's Oracle java and some ANSI-java that no one cares about. IBM, unlike M$, forked java in a compliant way, too. If one believes, as I do, that part of the game plan in taking Sun was to build a platform to attack the IBM mainframe business (the last existing fruit on the tree), then having a market dividing stack of Oracle database/java/Sun machines makes some sense; a way to lock-in clients top to bottom.

Larry has always had a strategic view of business; he just wants to have the biggest one. Buying Sun has to be seen in that context. The question observers have to answer: how does buying Sun support that strategy? The knee-jerk reaction was java. Then it was MySql (if you review the initial objections, they related to control of java; only later was MySql considered). Again, the largest part of the existing computing pie that Larry has no part of is mainframe (and IBM has the largest part of mainframe computing as its ever had); I think he wants that, in the worst way. In order to do that, he has to have an alternative. The database is one-third of that. Oracle has been eating DB2's lunch, off mainframe, for years and it keeps getting worse. DB2, thanks to a special codebase just for the mainframe, is the only meaningful database for the mainframe.

To break the cycle, Larry has to have a combine of applications/language/machine which makes a case. Building the Total Oracle Stack(CR) is what he has to do. I've just spent a decade in the financial services industry, and there, the language of choice has become javBOL (or COBava): java syntax used in a COBOL sort of way, largely by COBOL coders re-treaded. DB2 still rules, but with the falling price, and rising power, of multi-core/processor/SSD linux machines (largely on X86 cpu's) Larry has an opening. Those re-treaded COBOL coders are nearing end-of-life, literally. While some number of Indians are conscripted into COBOL to backstop the shortage, none hangs around very long; domestic CS graduates still "won't do the work". But COBOL's days are numbered; there's just too much else to do in CS that's interesting and doesn't require such a stupid language.

Larry can make the case to switch to Oracle applications now that he has a stack, if he can control java.

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