Jeff Seabloom, Managing Director
Oracle’s recent introduction of a line of aggressively priced engineered systems products presents customers with compelling new options. Clearly, Oracle now becomes a viable player in a very hot space. Existing customers – and it’s becoming increasingly hard to find an enterprise that isn’t an Oracle customer in some fashion – now have a cheaper option. For enterprises not closely tied to Oracle at present, the new offerings represent an attractive alternative solution. On the surface, a decision to go with Oracle’s new line might appear to be a no-brainer. But it’s not that simple. Despite the promise of faster, cheaper and simpler, CIOs would be well-advised to avoid the temptation to say, “Let’s get some of those today.” Whatever the virtues of Oracle’s products, the implementation of server-based virtualization and database tools into an integrated solution can’t be done in a tactical manner. Indeed, while Oracle is providing lower-cost bundles, and while the overall components are becoming increasingly commodity-based, the solutions they comprise are anything but. Rather, to deliver optimal benefits, the overall solution requires a system-wide, technology-wide strategy, and must include communication with the business and with service providers, as well as extensive homework on options and alternatives. Enterprises evaluating the new Oracle offerings should consider a wide range of immediate and downstream implications. Specifically: are technology processes and practices “enterprise ready?” Another issue: What happens to the dated technology (servers, mainframes, etc.) that’s already been purchased and implemented? Is there a buy-back opportunity? How will the new solution impact resource units? Will you be able to recycle resource units and older technology already committed to? Specific questions such as these must be addressed in order to understand what the new tools are replacing (and at what cost), how they will work and what will be left over. Complex stuff, in other words. And the fact that many CIOs don’t have a clear idea of what they have in place to begin with only magnifies the complexity of the situation. Bottom line: Oracle’s new product line clearly offers some significant benefits and advantages. Oracle cannot be ignored, and the solutions are, indeed proven. That said, executives considering the offerings should do so in the context of the big picture of their integrated IT strategy – a strategy that is too important to trust to a “quick, easy and cheap” solution.