One thing you can say about Oracle's Larry Ellison: He's not afraid of trash talk and taunting the competition. For instance, this year, he made headlines when he pretty much announced Oracle would solve your integration headaches by getting you to standardize everything on Oracle.
Ellison may be very public about the intention, but Oracle certainly isn't the only big vendor out there pushing highly integrated stacks and software/hardware solutions. By and large, all the big names-IBM, Oracle, HP, etc-are pursuing the same strategy, which is to own more of your IT business, with promises of integration being the common sales pitch.
And this is probably only the beginning, as the tech sector is on a buying spree once again, with large vendors snapping up smaller technology companies.
"There's chum in the financial waters and the sharks are circling," warned IT Business Edge's Arthur Cole. "Could it be that the tech industry is on the verge of a feeding frenzy that would make the past year or so look tame by comparison?"
Integration certainly sounds like a good reason to consider consolidation, provided the idea of "One Stack to Rule Them All" doesn't bother you. But the real question is whether big vendors can actually deliver on their integration promises. Peter Sondergaard, a Gartner senior vice president of research, thinks not.
ComputerWorld covered Sondergaard's remarks about the rise of what he calls "super vendors" at Gartner's recent Symposium ITxpo in Florida. According to the article, Sondergaard warned that integration across an entire vendor's stack "is impossible to maintain long term-users will not accept architectural mediocrity."
Apparently, Gartner sees part of the problem as these companies are acquiring the technology rather than developing it internally.
Technology analyst and IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle disagrees that research and development are more successful growth strategies than acquisitions:
Small companies have proven better at initially fleshing out an idea and bringing it to market. A larger firm then buys the smaller company and attempts to integrate the offering. Here is where the problem typically comes up. But it is generally easier to integrate something that has made it to market than to figure out how to market something new and unique for a large company.
He also points out the irony of Gartner criticizing the merger-and-acquisition approach, given that buy-outs constitute a large part of Gartner's own growth. The discussion gets a big ugly from there, with Enderle questioning whether Gartner could be predicting its own demise, but that's a digression from our point today, so I'll let you read his post for more on that.
Speaking of Enderle and the rise of "super vendors," I also recommend you check out Enderle's recent piece, "The Scariest Company In Tech," which appeared Wednesday on Conceivably Tech. It's a fascinating look at how Oracle uses old-style corporate "intelligence" (some might say espionage, but whatever) to create a competitive edge.