When Channel Elephants FightBy Michael Vizard | Print
Solution providers need to be very careful about where they tread over the next few years as industry giants like Oracle, Cisco, HP, IBM and Dell fight for dominance.
Now that the initial surprise of the planned acquisition of Sun by Oracle is starting to wear off, the time might be at hand to take a look at some of the more serious channel conflicts associated with this merger.
Oracle has already signaled its intent to stay in the hardware business once the merger is completed. That has huge implications for solution providers that have been selling Oracle software on Hewlett-Packard and Dell servers, especially solution providers that are fans of the database server that HP and Oracle rolled out last year.
Odds are pretty good that Sun will be in the market as a business unit of Oracle selling the same solution on Intel-class processors. And Oracle has already signaled its intention about being pretty aggressive about trying to push storage in to Oracle database accounts.
The end result of those efforts is that HP and Dell would logically de-emphasize Oracle database servers in favor of competitive offerings from Microsoft. So that means that existing HP and Dell solution providers need to proceed with care when it comes to anything related to Oracle at this point, even if those turnkey database servers are doing pretty well in the market right now.
There’s also a lot of air kissing going on around MySQL and Oracle databases. But the plain truth of the matter is that MySQL has been gaining adherents in the data warehousing space in droves. Oracle has never looked too kindly on that trend, so don’t be surprised if Oracle tries ways to limit the growth of MySQL. As for any work being done to improve MySQL performance for high-performance environments, most solution providers should expect to see any resources being applied in that direction to shrivel up.
What’s really at work behind the merger of Sun and Oracle--along with probably more mega-mergers to come in the near future--is a massive squeeze play to control the customer’s IT stack from end-to-end. We already see Cisco moving in this direction with the advent of Unified Computing System, while HP moves down a similar vector with its new Matrix systems. Oracle will try to up the ante by building complete turnkey systems using Sun hardware specifically optimized for Oracle software. It’s a little unclear right now exactly how Dell and IBM will respond to these developments, but the rise of blade server architectures pretty much means that both companies will have similar solutions in place by 2010.
What all this means for solution providers could be profound. The major benefit of owning the customer’s IT stack end-to-end is that the vendor can then move to lock in all the services revenue. Low level technical services derived from systems integration work will continue to decline, in favor of automated managed services increasingly delivered direct by the vendor.
There’s an old saying that reminds people that when elephants fight, it’s the mice that get killed. Solution providers over the next few years are going to have been very careful about where they tread.