Kit Malthouse, a deputy mayor for London, gave a startling speech about Oracle on Wednesday during London Technology Week.
He blasted the company and appealed to the crowd to help him “take Oracle down,” reports the Wall Street Journal’s Lisa Fleisher:
“Like most people in government, I’ve been screwed by Oracle,” Malthouse said Wednesday, to rousing laughter from the hundred or so people in the room. …
He said the top priority was to “take Oracle down.”
He was only sort of joking.
This idea was formed in 2010 when London under pressure to save money and implement “austerity measures” and wanted Oracle to lower its prices.
Oracle, knowing the city wouldn’t (and probably couldn’t) yank out its Oracle database and use a competitor, didn’t budge much.
Malthouse realised, “We found ourselves in a situation where there wasn’t really anywhere else to go.”
And that’s the love-hate world of enterprise software.
Oracle knows that database is the heart of IT and there’s a reason that it makes the most popular one in the world. Oracle has a 48% market share of the most-used kind of database (called, in geek speak, a relational database), according to market researcher Trefis.
Oracle’s database works well even under the most demanding circumstances. So an enterprise won’t lightly make a decision to replace it. Such a project would be costly, difficult, and full of risk.
Plus there’s only a handful of other databases that could perform on par with Oracle, such as IBM’s DB2 and, arguably, Microsoft’s SQL Server. Enterprise software licence contracts with IBM and Microsoft are also complicated and can grow more expensive over time.
At U.S. government agencies, there’s pressure to cut costs by using “open-source” databases, InformationWeek reports.
That’s only partially helpful because Oracle owns the most popular open-source database, too, MySQL, acquired when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010.
Some U.S. agencies are turning to alternatives like the the open-source PostgreSQL database, buying support from a company called EnterpriseDB. PostgreSQL is currently the forth most popular database behind Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server, according to DB-Engines.com.
There was a moment last year when it looked like PostgreSQL could have become a bigger threat to Oracle. Salesforce.com, a huge and important Oracle customer, was publicly toying with dumping Oracle for PostgreSQL. That would have signaled to other enterprises to look at PostgreSQL, too.
But it could have been just a negotiation tactic. Shortly after news leaked on Salesforce.com’s PostgreSQL plans, Oracle and Salesforce announced a huge partnership in which Salesforce.com agreed to buy Oracle’s database for about another decade. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said the deal would cut his costs for his database infrastructure in half.
Malthouse, however, wants a British company to create an Oracle-killer database, he told Fleisher.
“I want someone in London to crack the Oracle lock that they have,” he said. “Oracle seems to be the only people who can handle data on that vast volume.”
The problem is, it simply isn’t that easy to take on Oracle.
Oracle declined comment on this topic but it did just report fourth-quarter and year-end earnings.
New software licenses revenues were flat for the quarter at $US3.8 billion and flat for the year at $US9.4 billion, over the year-ago periods.
So like Malthouse, its customers are not yanking out their databases. But new business aren’t exactly flocking to the software giant, either.