Microsoft and Oracle: Better Together
These two companies are finally working together, to the benefit of everyone.
Last week, Microsoft and Oracle announced an agreement to work together more closely and to make sure their products are more compatible with each other.
It's about time.
Each company understandably wants to promote and sell its own products, but the real world is a healthy mix of products from a variety of companies. Having applications from different companies play more nicely together is a nearly universal major concern for developers and IT administrators.
The announcement brought back memories of a visit to FTP's offices by some Oracle representatives a few years ago, when Visual Studio Magazine was still named Visual Basic Programmer's Journal. Oracle was there to promote the most recent release of its Oracle database, which had been Java-enabled for that version. The entire meeting consisted of the Oracle representatives telling us how great it was that Oracle now let you program against it using Java.
"That's nice," I remember saying, "but 40 percent of our readers use Oracle, and they program primarily with Visual Basic. What are the new features in your latest version that will excite them?"
"Well, this version lets you program against Oracle in Java."
And this amp goes to 11.
It's not my intent to bash Oracle. Many vendors who present their products to us bring with them a similarly competitive attitude. I've never met anyone who felt the work they were doing was second best—well, one, and that was a train wreck of a demo, for a product that didn't make it past version 1. Part of the fun in being an editor is witnessing new products that come into the market and chatting with the people who make them. The people who represent Microsoft come to meetings with a similarly competitive attitude. A recent request for more information from Microsoft on how this agreement will help people who use these products work better began with a pitch for why SQL Server is still the premier database tool for working with data on Windows.
What this agreement will mean specifically remains to be seen. However, one goal of the agreement will be Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program integration into Visual Studio .NET for Oracle—a great thing for those who program against Oracle using Visual Studio. I don't know how tightly it will integrate, or which languages it will let you program against Oracle from with the VS.NET IDE, but VSM will keep you apprised as new information becomes available. To the extent that the companies can put aside their differences and cooperate, this agreement should be a good thing for developers.
The Oracle-Microsoft competition is only part of the overall picture, though. What our readers care about is getting their jobs done faster and more easily. The Java vs. .NET wars, the browser wars, the language wars, and the platform wars comprise sideline distractions with real consequences down the road, but not too much discernible effect on today's development. This competition is a great thing, too. It pushes all these companies to make better products, and today's development tools tend to be more powerful, easier to use, and packed with features that simplify creating ever-disparate types of applications.
At VSM, our goal is not to proselytize about the tools you should use, but to show you how to take advantage of the tools you use better. Yes, the people who read this magazine use Windows and Visual Studio .NET, and for the vast majority of them, Windows and VS.NET constitute their primary development environment. Most also use SQL Server. That said, we know many of you live in heterogeneous environments with SQL Server and Oracle running side by side; we know many of you have a mix of Windows, Unix, and Mac boxes running on your network; we know more than a few legacy systems still perform much of the work for your companies today.
Our readers have made their choices for the most part. We're not here to change your mind about your choices, but to help you take better advantage of them from a Windows and VS.NET perspective. I'm hoping this announcement leads to concrete and measurable benefits that will help everyone leverage the tools they have better.
Patrick Meader is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.