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How IBM plans to make Oracle obsolete

Rob Enderle | April 28, 2014
IBM almost fell apart in the 1980s because it treated its customers like cash machines and not, well, customers. Oracle (and Sun) happily swept in to take this business. Now Oracle customers increasingly feel a similar squeeze -- and guess who's ready to take advantage of that?

At the core is IBM's Open efforts, which give customers access to hardware, systems and software to create highly customized and optimized solutions designed around their specific needs. This should give customers a clear choice: Continue to be milked by Oracle so Ellison can buy islands and airlines, or shift to a company focused more on their needs than finding creative ways to empty their bank accounts.

As IBM itself knows, once customers start to leave a company, it's hard to stop the exodus. So IBM is positioning software, hardware and services against this massive opportunity and providing access to more core IBM technology under license than ever before to both customers and partners. If Rosamilia and IBM can execute, Oracle as we know it will likely be wondering where its market went in a few months.

Oracle has done a nice job of putting first IBM and then HP in defensive positions over the years, but now IBM in particular plans to return the favor by offering systems tuned from the ground up to significantly outperform Oracle's and wrapping them with services and software that reduce the pain of migration. For firms sick to death of being treated like food, this could be a godsend.

I expect IBM to gleefully enjoy doing to Oracle what Oracle once did to it. Sometimes turnabout isn't just fair play. It's fun, too.


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