It's said that breaking up is hard to do, but have you ever had an ex take you to court to prevent you from seeing someone else? That's not uncommon in the business world, and as former IBM senior executive Joanne Olsen is finding out, breaking up is indeed hard to do.
After serving 31 years with IBM, Oracle managed to dangle a big enough carrot in front of Olsen to lure her away from IBM just as the rivalry between the two companies hit an all time high following Oracle's $5.6 billion buyout of Sun Microsystems. The move has IBM crying foul, which contends that Olsen has violated the terms of the non-competition agreement she signed with IBM. Under terms of the agreement, Olsen must wait a year after leaving IBM before rendering services for a competitor.
"Joanne Olsen possesses valuable confidential information about IBM and our operations. As a result, she cannot undertake a senior position at Oracle without violating her obligations to IBM," said IBM spokesman Doug Shelton.
Olsen, Oracle, and each one's legal team has yet to respond to the accusations.
The U.S. government is taking Oracle to court for alleging overcharging several million of dollars, and perhaps as much as $10 million, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
At issue are what are called "GSA schedules," which are essentially contracts designed to provide discounts that are as good or even better than those given to the vendor's preferred customers.
"The whole idea of GSA schedule discounts is that the government, in the aggregate, is likely to be one of the largest purchasers of a company's products, and is entitled to take advantage of the discounts that its large buying power should command," the complaint states.
Oracle is accused of working on the sly to find ways around the GSA restrictions so that commercial customers get even deeper discounts. According to the complaint, it's the taxpayers who ultimately pay the price for Oracle's alleged misdeeds.
Oracle on Tuesday unveiled its Enterprise Content Management Suite 11g, a major release the company says reinforces three key themes, those being a complete solution that's both open and integrated.
"To maximize content management efficiency, reduce costs and improve security, organizations need a comprehensive enterprise content management solution that is integrated into their business processes and fits with the way they work," said Andy MacMillan, vice president, Product Management, Oracle. "With Oracle Enterprise Content Management Suite 11g, we meet those demands while delivering the performance and scalability needed to support the most complex and demanding enterprise content management environments."
Oracle says its ECM Suite 11g is built on a single, unified repository where every piece of content -- including documents, HTML pages, digital assets, and scanned images -- is stored and accessible directly from the repository. It also boasts MS Office integration with menus to access managed content, insert managed links, and compare managed documents.
The sun shines brightest in the summer time, but dark days loom for more Sun workers. Oracle will make more job cuts related to its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Oracle didn't say exactly how many pink slips it plans to hand out, and an Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the filing. Sun employees have been living on eggshells even before Oracle acquired the company, and according to an InfoWorld report, at least one analyst predicted that Oracle would lay off 50 percent of Sun's workforce to put the company back in the black. At the time, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison vehemently shrugged off the claim.
"The Sun people went through enough angst without having to read this garbage that you're writing," he told reporters and analysts in January. "The truth is, we're actually hiring 2,000 people over the next few months to beef up these businesses, and that's about twice as many people as we'll be laying off. We're not cutting Sun to profitability, we're growing Sun to profitability."
To cover the layoffs, which will mostly be concentrated in Europe and Asia, Oracle will take a charge of up to $650 million this year.
Following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, some analysts have heralded Oracle as the biggest and baddest open source vendor on the block, but not everyone is buying it. Some, like Paul Cormier, president of products and technologies at Red Hat, don't even consider Oracle to be an open source company at this point, let alone the largest one.
"I wouldn't even consider calling them an open source company at all," Cormier said. "When you're making a choice as a company on what's open and what's closed then your customers suffer."
Cormier went on to accuse Sun of sometimes holding back "the good stuff" from the open source community in developing MySQL, claiming that "open is not just seeing the code. Open is also having a community of developer. OpenSolaris is not open. There is no community other than Sun people developing Solaris."
Cormier did admit that there are some parts of Oracle he would consider open, but nothing that approaches the level of openness at Red Hat.
Oracle, which recently spent $7.4 billion acquiring Sun Micrososystems, announced on Thursday that it has agreed to scoop up Secerno, a provider of database firewall solutions for both Oracle and non-Oracle databases.
"The Secerno acquisition is in direct response to increasing customer challenges around mitigating database security risk," said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president, Oracle Database Server Technologies. "Secerno’s database firewall product acts as a first line of defense against external threats and unauthorized internal access with a protective perimeter around Oracle and non-Oracle databases. Together, Oracle’s complete set of database security solutions and Secerno’s technology will provide customers with the ability to safeguard their critical business information."
Secerno makes a bunch of hardware and software products called DataWall, which help block unauthorized activity in real-time. Oracle said it will use Secerno's products to augment its portfolio of database solutions, including Oracle Advanced Security, Oracle Database Vault, and Oracle Audit Vault.
Just as abruptly as Oracle had stopped work on a massive data center last year in Salt Lake City, Utah without any explanation, the enterprise software product maker has now resumed work on the project, an Oracle spokeswoman said. When it's finished, the data center will take up some 240,000 square feet and "very likely" cost around $285 million.
Considering Oracle recently scooped up Sun Microsystems and its data centers, resuming construction on the Salt Lake City project indicates the company is pretty serious about expanding its on-demand software business. Oracle only operates a few SaaS (software as a service) business applications, which brought in $779 million in on-demand revenue during the company's fiscal 2009.
Even before construction on the new data center resumed, it was clear where Oracle's focus was headed. The company has been talking up is Fusion Applications, an next-generation suite that is supposed to take the best bits and pieces out of Oracle's other product lines and mesh them together into a single package.
Oracle on Thursday announced the launch of a new software platform called Enterprise Manager 11g. According to Oracle, the platform introduces a number of IT consolidation efforts, including:
Business-driven application management
Integrated application-to-disk management
Integrated systems management and support
"It's about trying to finally get control of this complex thing called IT. We're just getting to the point in the industry and in Oracle's strategy where that's now possible," Oracle President Charles Phillips said Thursday during an event in New York, which was webcast.
Enterprise Manager 11g will go up against competing management platforms from the likes of IBM, Hewlett Packard, CA, and BMC. Where Oracle might have an advantage, however, is by offering customers a complete solution in one package.
"It's basically hard to go against the Big Four on their own terms, so you have to change the rules of the game," said Michael Cote, an analyst with Redmonk.
Somewhere, someone out there is saying "Told you so!" The reason? Oracle has begun charging $90 per user on a plug-in for Microsoft Office that Sun Microsystems used to give away for free.
The tool makes it so Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users can read, edit, and save documents in the ODF (Open Document Format), the same one used by OpenOffice. Oracle's only selling the plug-in in quantities of 100 or more, which works out to $9,000 per order, at least for the perpetual license. Oracle also offers 1-5 year licenses ranging in price from $18 to $63 per user, which are also only available in quantities of 100 or more.
If that weren't enough of a 'gotcha,' customers who wish to receive upgrades in the future must also purchase a support contract.
Things are getting a little testy between the OpenSolaris governing board and Oracle, primarily because the latter has been tight lipped about the delay in releasing OpenSolaris.
OpenSolaris OS version 2010.03 was supposed to be released on March 26, but nearly a month later, there's no sight of the operating system nor any word on when it might ship. As a result, some members of the board have suggested forking the code base from the Oracle version.
"It is sad to watch people asking about some OpenSolaris...release called 2010.03 when we are well into April now," wrote board member Dennis Clarke in an email. Added board member Joerg Schilling, "We [should] not ignore the current situation and thus be prepared to fork in case this is needed."
The idea has been well received by several other members of the list who are not board members, though not everyone agrees.
"The time to fork hasn't arrived yet," said board member Simon Phipps. "Given Oracle's style, I have seen no concrete triggers for concern yet."