Oracle ups the ante

To play high-stakes poker well one must learn to bet effectively. Having a solid hand is one thing, but a cunning bet could make your less appealing hand a winner.

The whole Oracle, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards mess reminds me of a high-stakes poker game.

You have PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards

playing a nice game. Both companies decide to split the pot when out from nowhere Oracle raises the stakes, willing to see the game played out until there is only one winner.

Oracle’s recent US$6.3 billion bid is a raise. Oracle boss Larry Ellison is upping the ante and it may affect partners, who are not allowed to play poker at the grown ups table yet.

You see, partners still have to conduct business. They probably have several Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards implementations to take care of while this mess sorts itself out. They are on the hot seat with customers. Customers, especially PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customers, are worried that all the money they spent will be wasted if Oracle takes over and shelves PeopleSoft.

What happens to J.D. Edwards if Oracle is successful in its takeover bid? Does it pick up J.D. Edwards as well? The answer to that is maybe. Oracle is certainly interested, according to Ellison, but he added that Oracle will keep its options open. This will only lead to more speculation, but you can’t blame Oracle for playing its cards close to the vest.

At the recently concluded J.D. Edwards conference the company said over and over that it is business as usual. But how can it be business as usual when hundreds of millions of dollars are still on the line? What about the many businesses which chose PeopleSoft over Oracle and the rest?

Granted, PeopleSoft and JDE have a small VAR base in Canada and primarily sell direct.

But that is not the case for Oracle. Its partner base makes up about 40 per cent of its business in Canada. What do they do? Well, according to Oracle correspondence, the database giant believes it will lead to more opportunities for partners to resell, migrate, integrate, and host applications. That is a great motherhood statement but it comes up short on specifics.

Partners for years were forced to drive square pegs into round holes because these enterprise class solutions did not scale down well enough for the mid-market in Canada. Just when Oracle has its mid-market class solutions in place for the channel it tries to block rival PeopleSoft from acquiring mid-market help from J.D. Edwards. This only extends the poker game further.

This high-stakes poker game will end only when the last chip is played. I only hope by then partners and customers will be around to see who wins.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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