Montag, August 16, 2010

News on OOo: has ORACLE learned anything from SUN?

Sharon Plate posted on the "OpenOffice user" group on LinkedIn a webcast from the OOo GM at ORACLE. I did not have enough space to comment, hence I complete my review here.
To start with, I almost stopped listening after the disclaimer (and the useless next slide on the product stack). This disclaimer says to me that everything I hear or say is useless since it can't be used in contracts. Bed stories are certainly more useful -and nicer to hear- than this narration.
I work in government and although many criticize some politicians because of their broken promises, at least they have the "pantalones" to make some. This is very sad, because I thought the objective of this communication was to re-assure clients and potential new clients that ORACLE will support OOo. I heard nothing such, and there is obviously an intention NOT to support.
Friendly reminder: business partners rely on contracts.
Lesson learned #1: ORACLE needs to hire communication staff that is at least half as good as their lawyers.
The technical side of things is also weird. I set the bar at an average level for one of the biggest IT corporation in the world. They have websites, Engineers, etc. Furthermore, when a communication is such heavily scripted (reading from a paper, with a disclaimer inserted in the video), I would expect the quality of the format (ie the interface with the clients) to match. 1) The javascript code is intrusive (it tries to resize my entire window), 2) the video codec does not work on Linux (on a working Firefox + Flash setup), and 3) the video fails silently (an insult to the developers in the audience).
OOo is a multi-platform product (says again the video). Why is the video not working on Linux? Why is Flash used if Mac users won't be able to see it? I can't imagine how users could look at it on Solaris..?
Lesson learned #2: ORACLE should straighten up their market strategy or their communication. Is this multi-platform or not? Talk to your clients where they are.
Now, let's look at this message from an economic perspective. ORACLE is following Google and Microsoft in offering an online version. IBM and NOVELL might not be far behind. OK, great news but there are only a few pictures to look at. In comparison, Microsoft launched a beta already at least a year ago (and it was fully working on Linux). After looking at how this simple webcast did not work on my work platform, I have serious doubts about the more complex Office suite product. Bottom line, what's the value proposition from ORACLE? What's different from the other guys?
The GM talks about a lower TCO. That's good news, except that there is not a single number in this "hypothetical talk", and I can't really see why TCO would be lower with ORACLE (certainly not but just saying it in a "non-binding" form).
Lesson learned #3: Don't say big words in a "casual talk". That usually means either big mouth dreamers with no intention to stand for promises in binding contracts, or total ignorance of the (office suite & FLOSS) market coupled with a lack of strategic vision (other than following).
"Extensions" can be developed for OOo, but that's not new. ORACLE "dreams" about (because of their disclaimer I can not say they really "talk" about it) a platform integrated in JDeveloper to support the development of these extensions. OOo is Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). I don't remember JDeveloper was FLOSS as well. I don't see any stats on the IDE used by the current OOo developers but I doubt most are not using Eclipse or other FLOSS products that are enterprise-grade.
Finally, I can't see much about how ORACLE plans to navigate in a FLOSS business model (selling SaaS like the other guys does not count; ORACLE is not in the dominant position Microsoft is in). Integrating OOo in their "stack" (e.g. BI) is certainly a good thing, but if done wrong it is plain vendor lock-in buyers will detect right away. Although there is a mention of open standards, it is not clear how they fit in the whole picture (integration with ORACLE BI and CMS). There is no mention of innovation, although there is hope that after 20 years or so of existence (and monopolistic control) it was time to move to the next stage.
To sum up, it is a very curious message. I can't believe ORACLE is entering the end-user market with the same sales tactics of the legendary used cars salesman. After looking at where SUN ended-up with its ambiguous FLOSS approach and in particular OOo, one should wonder where ORACLE wants to go. Unfortunately, this talk is evidence there is a will not to commit to anything at ORACLE (this is only informational, please refer to disclaimer).
In a position where I have to give advices to my clients, I am not better equipped after looking at this video. I now wonder what all this communication exercise was all about…


Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen