Oracle is getting into bed with its rivals

"Co-opetition".

Oracle's integration partnerships with salesforce.com and NetSuite will have some observers scratching their heads. And rightly so. I believe it was our American friends who came up with the word "co-opetition", to describe that slightly perilous state in which competitors agree to work with one another. But never has that word been more apt than in the case of a partnership announced as went to press: Oracle and salesforce.com are getting into bed together in a comprehensive nine-year partnership. Unlikely? You’d better believe it. Not only that, but Oracle announced another integration deal with yet another competitor: NetSuite. What gives?

Let’s recap. Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff used to work for Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Ellison even put in some money to his new venture and sat on salesforce.com’s board. Benioff once proudly told me that he is the only person who has ever sacked Larry Ellison, after he stripped him of his board seat when it became clear salesforce.com would compete with Oracle.

Over the years relations between Benioff and Ellison seem – on the face of it at least – to have gone from bad to worse. During an Oracle OpenWorld conference in 2010 Ellison sniped at salesforce.com, saying, "Salesforce has a weak security model - everyone's data co-mingles on the same platform and if that goes down, everyone goes down. It is not fault tolerant, it's not virtual and it's not elastic."

In October 2001 at another Oracle conference, Marc Benioff was unceremoniously dumped off the speakers’ roster. He said at the time, "Oracle just cancelled my keynote tomorrow. But the show must go on! Everyone is welcome to join me at Ame Restaurant tomorrow to hear about the social enterprise. Sorry Larry, the cloud can't be stopped."

So to say it’s surprising that the two companies announced a nine-year partnership as went to press is an understatement. Salesforce.com plans to standardise on the Oracle Linux operating system, Exadata engineered systems, the Oracle Database, and Java Middleware Platform. Oracle plans to integrate salesforce.com with Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial Cloud, and provide the core technology to power salesforce.com's applications and platform. Salesforce.com will also implement Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Financial cloud applications throughout the company.

As Quocirca principal analyst Clive Longbottom told me, "The biggest is issue may well be in having two egos – Benioff and Ellison – in the same place."

"Oracle has struggled to provide a working and compelling on-demand hosted or cloud service in its CRM (or any other) offers.  By tying in to Salesforce, it gets access to an existing customer base, but more to the point gets an offer to make to its own customers," Longbottom said. “Salesforce is at a point of product penetration where its cost of sale must be increasing - the tie-up gives it access to Oracle customers who may be willing to move to Salesforce if it doesn't upset Oracle.

"Salesforce also gets access to new hardware at what I would expect would be pretty decent pricing.  At some stage, the Salesforce platform will need upgrading, and this must be keeping Benioff awake at nights as to the cost and disruption.  With access to the Sun hardware portfolio, the problems can be made less," Longbottom added.

However he concluded: "Nine years is a long time - I doubt the agreement will run that long."

Barely a day went by before Oracle announced another integration deal, this time with NetSuite, the pair forming an alliance to offer integrated HCM and ERP cloud services to mid-size customers.

Under the alliance, Oracle's human resources software will be integrated with NetSuite's services for enterprise resource planning (ERP). The alliance will also see Deloitte work with both the firms to develop specialists in tools and implementation services to help customers adopt the SaaS technologies faster.

Oracle president Mark Hurd said driving the development and retention of the right talent, and getting strategic data around HR practices can help mid-size companies transform their business operations.

"NetSuite and Oracle are now working together to provide access to Oracle's leading enterprise-level cloud-based HR & Talent Management solutions that are integrated with NetSuite's Cloud ERP suite applications," Hurd said. "With Deloitte implementing these integrated solutions, mid-size companies can quickly gain access to an incredible new level of HR management that can help impact their bottom line."

NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson said: "Customers will benefit from the commonality of the products' underlying Oracle-based architecture and the enormous investment in R&D and customer service that both companies bring to the table."

It’s clear that having initially been sceptical of cloud computing, Ellison and Oracle are taking cloud very seriously indeed. So seriously, in fact, that it sees working with erstwhile competitors as critical to building its own ecosystem. It really does feel like a new dawn in the enterprise applications space.

Oracle CEO. Photograph: Getty Images

Jason Stamper is editor of Computer Business Review

Photo: Getty
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The vitriol aimed at Hillary Clinton shows the fragility of women's half-won freedom

The more I understand about the way the world treats women, the more I feel the terror of it coming for me.

I’m worried about my age. I’m 36. There’s a line between my eyebrows that’s been making itself known for about the last six years. Every time I see a picture of myself, I automatically seek out the crease. One nick of Botox could probably get rid of it. Has my skin lost its smoothness and glow?

My bathroom shelf has gone from “busy” to “cluttered” lately with things designed to plump, purify and resurface. It’s all very pleasant, but there’s something desperate I know at the bottom of it: I don’t want to look my age.

You might think that being a feminist would help when it comes to doing battle with the beauty myth, but I don’t know if it has. The more I understand about the way the world treats women – and especially older women – the more I feel the terror of it coming for me. Look at the reaction to Hillary Clinton’s book. Too soon. Can’t she go quietly. Why won’t she own her mistakes.

Well Bernie Sanders put a book out the week after the presidential election – an election Clinton has said Sanders did not fully back her in –  and no one said “too soon” about that. (Side note: when it comes to not owning mistakes, Sanders’s Our Revolution deserves a category all to itself, being as how the entire thing was written under the erroneous impression that Clinton, not Trump, would be president.) Al Gore parlayed his loss into a ceaseless tour of activism with An Inconvenient Truth, and everyone seems fine with that. John McCain – Christ, everyone loves John McCain now.

But Hillary? Something about Hillary just makes people want to tell her to STFU. As Mrs Merton might have asked: “What is it that repulses you so much about the first female candidate for US president?” Too emotional, too robotic, too radical, too conservative, too feminist, too patriarchal – Hillary has been called all these things, and all it really means is she’s too female.

How many women can dance on the head of pin? None, that’s the point: give them a millimetre of space to stand in and shake your head sadly as one by one they fall off. Oh dear. Not this woman. Maybe the next one.

It’s in that last bit that that confidence racket being worked on women really tells: maybe the next one. And maybe the next one could be you! If you do everything right, condemn all the mistakes of the women before you (and condemn the women themselves too), then maybe you’ll be the one standing tippy-toe on the miniscule territory that women are permitted. I’m angry with the men who engage in Clinton-bashing. With the women, it’s something else. Sadness. Pity, maybe. You think they’ll let it be you. You think you’ve found the Right Kind of Feminism. But you haven’t and you never will, because it doesn’t exist.

Still, who wouldn’t want to be the Right Kind of Feminist when there are so many ready lessons on what happens to the Wrong Kind of Feminist. The wrong kind of feminist, now, is the kind of feminist who thinks men have no right to lease women by the fuck (the “sex worker exclusionary radical feminist”, or SWERF) or the kind of feminist who thinks gender is a repressive social construct (rechristened the “trans exclusionary radical feminist”, or TERF).

Hillary Clinton, who has said that prostitution is “demeaning to women” – because it absolutely is demeaning to treat sexual access to women as a tradeable commodity – got attacked from the left as a SWERF. Her pre-election promises suggest that she would probably have continued the Obama administration’s sloppy reinterpretation of sex discrimination protections as gender identity protections, so not a TERF. Even so, one of the charges against her from those who considered her not radical enough was that she was a “rich, white, cis lady.” Linger over that. Savour its absurdity. Because what it means is: I won’t be excited about a woman presidential candidate who was born female.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, and of the Abortion Act. One of these was met with seasons of celebratory programming; one, barely mentioned at all. (I took part in a radio documentary about “men’s emotional experiences of abortion”, where I made the apparently radical point that abortion is actually something that principally affects women.) No surprise that the landmark benefiting women was the one that got ignored. Because women don’t get to have history.

That urge to shuffle women off the stage – troublesome women, complicated women, brilliant women – means that female achievements are wiped of all significance as soon as they’re made. The second wave was “problematic”, so better not to expose yourself to Dworkin, Raymond, Lorde, Millett, the Combahee River Collective, Firestone or de Beauvoir (except for that one line that everyone misquotes as if it means that sex is of no significance). Call them SWERFs and TERFs and leave the books unread. Hillary Clinton “wasn’t perfect”, so don’t listen to anything she has to say based on her vast and unique experience of government and politics: just deride, deride, deride.

Maybe, if you’re a woman, you’ll be able to deride her hard enough to show you deserve what she didn’t. But you’ll still have feminine obsolescence yawning in your future. Even if you can’t admit it – because, as Katrine Marçal has pointed out in Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?, our entire economy is predicated on discounting women’s work – you’ll need the politics of women who analysed and understood their situation as women. You’ll still be a woman, like the women who came before us, to whom we owe the impossible debt of our half-won freedom.

In the summer of 2016, a radio interviewer asked me whether women should be grateful to Clinton. At the time, I said no: we should be respectful, but what I wanted was a future where women could take their place in the world for granted. What nonsense. We should be laying down armfuls of flowers for our foremothers every day.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.