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Oracle's Open Source Spin

I attended the Linux/Open Source on Wall Street conference yesterday in New York and was intrigued to hear Monica Kumar, a senior director for open source product marketing at Oracle, talk up her company's competence in helping organizations move to Linux and work in development environments such as Eclipse. "Our customers are adopting open source and are demanding our technologies support open source," Kumar said during the opening panel session.

No surprise there, after all Oracle has championed Linux for about a decade and the company typically releases new software first on Linux, then other platforms. But I couldn't help but notice the irony in her remarks, when it came to the obvious omission of open source databases. After her session I asked her about that, particularly in the wake of Sun Microsystems' acquisition of open source database provider MySQL.

"We haven't seen our customers asking for open source databases," she told me. "Not many customers are interested in looking into the code and mucking around with it, and making changes to it. All they care about is 'give me the best support, give me the lowest price of entry'." For that Kumar pointed to Oracle Express.

While MySQL accounts for a small sliver of the overall enterprise database market and poses little short-term threat to the established database platforms, it's also subtraction by addition, since Oracle until now was Sun's preferred database when going to market with its solutions.

For now, Oracle's database business is holding its own. While Oracle's overall revenues for the quarter that ended March 15 failed to meet Wall Street expectations, it is interesting to note that its database business for the period actually grew 20 percent, up from 17 percent a year ago. However that didn't do much for the company's stock price last week, when the company reported earnings were up 30 percent on lower than anticipated revenue, which sent shares tumbling 8 percent. Its stock has since started to bounce back.

So what's your take? Do enterprise developers want to muck inside the code of a database or will the DBMS remain the platform of choice? Send me e-mail or post a comment to this blog.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/02/2008

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