TechCrunch Is Clueless about Oracle Cloud

TechCrunch recently posted an article under the titillating headline, “Why The Open Cloud Wins And Oracle Loses When IT Gets Virtualized.”

Reporter Alex Williams deserves some credit for trying to apply some insight and analysis to the rapidly evolving cloud-computing business. It’s an extremely important subject as customers need to sift through a dizzying flurry of potential vendors, technological approaches, scope of projects, integration hairballs, security implications, regulatory requirements, and more.

Instead of focusing on those vital and compelling issues, Williams elected instead to construct his analysis on a series of flawed assumptions and arguments predicated on his assertion that the Oracle Cloud will be a closed system, unable or unwilling to play with hardware or software from any other vendors.

And that is simply not true.

Compounding that first mistake, Williams also attempts to argue that Oracle’s planned acquisition of Xsigo—a maker of completely open network-virtualization products—is somehow proof of Oracle’s intention to lock itself out from the rest of the IT world.

While those baseless claims allowed Williams and TechCrunch to write a zippy headline, the claims are nonetheless baseless and need to be corrected. Let’s look at a few of his statements that are simply wrong:

1) “The acquisition points to a shift in the market that will eventually make Oracle the loser,” Williams writes. “The cloud is opening up while Oracle is folding inward.”

Not so, says Oracle vice president of product development Raju Penumatcha when asked for his reactions to the claims made by TechCrunch.

“There isn’t any truth to this story,” Penumatcha said. “Our strategy is to continue to support non-Oracle systems, in addition to supporting Oracle systems. Of course we would tune their products to work well with our stack.”

Oracle has committed very publicly to offering best of breed open products that allow customers to integrate at any layer of their cloud deployment: PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS, says Penumatcha. This open-cloud policy applies for both public and private clouds, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said Oracle’s cloud products can run on the Amazon cloud as well.

2) Williams then goes on to assert that while network virtualization—the precise business Xsigo is in—will ultimately “make the open cloud more viable for an organization than a vertically integrated stack that needs to be managed by teams of IT engineers. Oracle is rejecting that premise and will use Xsigo to strengthen its own proprietary environment.”

The reality, says Penumatcha, is quite different: “This acquisition is a great endorsement for Xsigo as a leader in network virtualization for the cloud. Oracle’s strategy is to offer open/best-in-class products in every category and then to provide optimal performance and ease of use with the rest of the Oracle stack.”

3) Williams later adds, “Oracle wants to control it all.... The Xsigo acquisition points to Oracle’s ‘control it all’ strategy.”

Williams makes a glaring error here by confusing the breadth of Oracle’s product line—which is, in fact, quite extensive—with some evil and underhanded attempt to use that breadth to eliminate all other IT vendors. Last time I looked, IBM’s product line was pretty darned broad, too—and IBM has just channeled its inner Oracle by coming out with new Exadata-like engineered systems that "control it all" by using not only IBM hardware but also IBM software.

On top of that, IBM’s vast product lineup is accompanied by its massive services business—is that “proof” that IBM is out to, as Williams puts it, “control it all”?

Using TechCrunch’s own logic as applied to Oracle, should we expect that TechCrunch will soon tell the world how IBM will lose while the “open cloud wins”?

The article makes lots of other dubious claims, but I think you get the point.

But what about the judgment and decision-making employed by TechCrunch in writing this nonsense?

--Why did TechCrunch make this series of baseless claims about Oracle in the face of so much publicly available evidence to the contrary?

--Why did TechCrunch not cite any third-party analysts or other experts to buttress its own opinions? Did the reporter not even seek out such commentary, or was he simply unable to find anyone to back up his claims?

--Reporters are free to write whatever they want, but they’re not free to create their own facts. Why didn’t TechCrunch offer Oracle any chance to comment on the audacious claims made in the article?

I’m hoping someone at TechCrunch will shed some light on these questions.

In the meantime, I’ve got my own theory, and it’s based on having spent 30 years writing about the IT business. I think that many IT journalists and bloggers openly and willingly perpetuate a stereotype of Oracle as the one and only IT vendor that competes aggressively for business, that wants to grow and gain market share, and that likes to emerge from competitive situations as the winner rather than the loser.

It’s a silly, sloppy, and inaccurate way to look at the world. But far worse than that, it’s a disservice to audiences looking for insight and accurate analysis in a fast-moving and rapidly changing business.

And I hope that the next time TechCrunch decides to offer up some unfounded opinions on Oracle’s strategy, it will do us the professional courtesy of at least giving us a call.

Bob Evans is senior vice-president, communications, at Oracle.

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