The new Oracle: Bigger and badder than ever

The software giant has solidified its central role in the technology firmament. Is it becoming another Apple?

Topics: Silicon Valley,

The new Oracle: Bigger and badder than everLarry Ellison.

Apart from being accused of fraud by the U.S. Justice Department, it’s been a pretty good year so far for Oracle Corp. Let’s see. Oracle finished its acquisition of Sun Microsystems. A sailing team co-sponsored by Oracle won the America’s Cup. Earnings are up. So when more than 40,000 people from around the planet showed up for the company’s annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, founder and CEO Larry Ellison wasn’t entirely out of bounds to preen a bit on the Moscone Center stage.

Ellison and his company cast an outsized shadow in Silicon Valley, but they’re much less known outside. The reason is what they’ve been selling for decades: products that are aimed at what they call “the enterprise” in tech and financial circles — enterprises like governments, universities and an assortment of big and smaller companies. The flagship for years was database software; a database is, essentially, a place where people store their digital data in various ways so they can easily retrieve and manipulate it later.

In recent years, however, Oracle has been on an acquisition binge. Among the more notable purchases were PeopleSoft, which sold the leading enterprise products for managing things like customer relations and personnel, and Sun, a pioneer in high-end server hardware and software. There’s a more than reasonable likelihood that the computers processing your payroll check use Oracle software, but it’s not nearly so likely that your IT department has standardized on Sun/Oracle hardware unless you are in a few specific industries where Sun had major market share.

The Sun purchase was a fascinating shift for Oracle, which had for the most part been a software company, creating products that ran on a variety of hardware from the leading computer and server makers including Sun, IBM, HP, Fujitsu and Intel-based manufacturers. All of a sudden, with Sun in the fold, Oracle had gone vertical — systems that include proprietary hardware and software — and it was now competing with the companies that were its partners. This is nothing new in Silicon Valley, where businesses compete and cooperate (“co-opetition,” as some call it), but it has changed Oracle’s focus in some ways that have to make the other hardware companies nervous. How sure can they be anymore of their partner’s devotion to the long-term success of their collaboration?



Oracle has adoped Sun’s goal of taking market share away from IBM and the other big-iron companies, and why not? No one seems to need less computing power, and many of the large enterprises of the planet like a soup-to-nuts approach. Oracle’s Sun-based offerings include the popular Exadata series of machines; on Monday, new co-president Mark Hurd, late of HP in a corporate sicko soap opera, announced new models with lots of advanced features. 

But Ellison spent much more of his time Sunday talking about what’s obviously going to be a big-deal product for Oracle: the Exalogic line of machines aimed at the latest industry trend: cloud computing. Grossly oversimplified, this is Internet-based computing where users share resources that can live anywhere, as opposed to on your desk or in your company’s server room. Meanwhile, Oracle is merging the various software products it’s developed and bought into a mega-offering it calls Fusion, which will run on a variety of computers but, as you’re beginning to guess, will probably run best on Oracle’s boxes.

The more I heard him emphasize his company’s new focus on merging hardware and software, however, the more I heard an echo of a company run by one of Ellison’s longtime best friends, Steve Jobs. This is precisely the approach Apple takes with its products, hardly any of which are aimed at the enterprise: a tight integration of the machines and the code. If Ellison wants to be the Apple of the enterprise, he’s set out an ambitious goal. This will remain interesting to watch.

A longtime participant in the tech and media worlds, Dan Gillmor is director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Follow Dan on Twitter: @dangillmor. More about Dan here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>