Who’s right – Ellison or Andressen?

Barron’s writes:

As part of his takeover dialogue of PeopleSoft, Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison has been verbally running roughshod over the debate about information technology, its relevance and its future innovation. “Best of breed is dead, except for dog shows,” he has said. For the most part, Ellison has been preaching that innovation doesn’t matter and that consolidation will rule the day.

[Opsware co-founder Marc] Andreesen respectfully — and quite understandably — disagrees. He contends that we are simply entering another era of computing, and for the first time in his career, Ellison is on the wrong side of the curve. “For 25 years, he has been on the right side of trends,” Andreesen says. “Now, he’s using consolidation as a self-serving prophecy.”

Andreesen argues that Oracle’s core database business has matured, and Ellison is desperately groping for growth and using Darwinian takeover tactics as a way to obfuscate his company’s potential irrelevance.

Andressen argues that we are entering a new cycle in computing, shifting from the client-server platform to Web-based architecture. The old client-server stuff is maturing, consolidating and in some cases dying, but the new Web architecture innovations are thriving. He points to the continued growth of Internet users, broadband subscribers and buyers of goods online as proof that purveyors of Web-enabling software, such as BEA, Veritas, Mercury Interactive and Opsware, have bright futures.

I think Andressen is right. Ellison also faces one more threat: open-source databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL which will nibble away at Oracle’s core business.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.