Steve Jobs & Larry Ellison: The Line in the Sand

Legend has it that when Steve Jobs was about to make his return to Apple, that he met up with his good friend, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.  At that time, Microsoft was the dominant tech powerhouse and Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.  Both Oracle and Apple viewed Microsoft as a formidable adversary. … Continue reading “Steve Jobs & Larry Ellison: The Line in the Sand”

steve jobs keynote larry ellison keynote

Legend has it that when Steve Jobs was about to make his return to Apple, that he met up with his good friend, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.  At that time, Microsoft was the dominant tech powerhouse and Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.  Both Oracle and Apple viewed Microsoft as a formidable adversary. To keep Microsoft and other tech powerhouses at bay, Steve allegedly drew an imaginary line and reportedly said, “Larry, you take the enterprise-side, we’ll take the consumer-side.”

This alliance has served them well for the last decade and counting.  In the meantime, Apple made a alliance with Google. Apple had the best front-end systems, and Google had the best back-end systems. But that alliance has been weakened, if not broken.  They are “frenemies.”  But these alliances, among many others — Intel, NVIDIA, ARM, Facebook, open-source, etc. – has been a multi-front attack on Microsoft and now Google, Amazon, Facebook, and even Intel. Now that the Apple-Google alliance is over, could there be a new Apple-Oracle alliance?

Oracle has made many major acquisitions in the meantime, and one of its most interesting plays on the enterprise side has been able to acquire technologies based around Java: BEA (WebLogic), Tangosol, and Sun Microsystems (creators of Java) itself.  Additionally, with the Sun Microsystems acquisition it inherited MySQL, Solaris, and ZFS.

However, there has been clamor recently that the next area that Apple can move into is the enterprise world.  “What is taking so long?” analysts conjecture.  The Line in the Sand. Apple has dabbled in enterprise, such as their xServe, xSAN, OS X Server, iPhone with encryption and Microsoft Exchange support, etc. However, Apple has not gone all-in on the enterprise and seem content to stay, for the most part, on the other side of the line.

There are some pieces that could benefit both Apple and Oracle if they begin to cross-license their technologies without necessarily causing both companies to compete with each other.

For example: Oracle’s superior ZFS could becoming the new file system for Apple Mac OS X and iOS.  In fact, it was announced by Sun CEO a few years ago to be the next file system for Apple, before Oracle acquired Sun. Oracle could license this file system to Apple.

Apple’s Bonjour, AirPlay, iChat, FaceTime, and iTunes streaming could become an interesting play for Oracle to compete with Cisco and others in the networking industry. While Bonjour and AirPlay are Local Area Network (LAN) plays, iChat, FaceTime, and iTunes streaming could utilize more backend systems. And we know that Apple is building one of the biggest data centers in North Carolina. But will they need Oracle at all to move into the cloud?

Steve Jobs suit

Recently, Larry Ellison made the comment that Oracle is looking into buying a chip company so they can be more like Apple — by owning the entire hardware/software stack. While most analysts suspect that the most logical companies to acquire would be AMD or NVIDIA, what if Oracle made a play to move to get into the mobile industry by buying ARM? But, why would Oracle buy ARM when Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA chips are used for big iron? We can argue that while ARM is still a mobile chip company it is beginning to move into data centers with ARM powered servers, like those developed by Smoothstone. As ARM evolves into not just an extremely energy-efficient, but powerful computing chip company, it will become more attractive to back-end companies, like Oracle, to be used for their back-end database and middle-ware products.

If Oracle were to purchase ARM, that could change and possibly forge a different atmosphere between Apple and Oracle. The risk is that Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs may end up competing. Today, ARM sells their chip licenses. Would Oracle give Apple a discount vs. other ARM licensees? Or would Apple just be another regular licensee, as they are today? Would pricing lead to discord between Oracle and Apple? Interesting to see if these two massive companies can continue to stay at arms length and stay out of each others’ sandboxes — while mobile remains one of the hottest categories in technology today. (Side note: Apple was a major contributor to ARM back in the 1990’s and at one point owned ~50% of ARM).

Another thought, is that Oracle could buy EMC and, its subsiduary, VMWare and move into the cloud virtualization market. Today we have the big players such as Google, Amazon, and RackSpace in the cloud market, but there is still no clear-cut winner of virtualization of private clouds. This would be an interesting play for Oracle, but again, could this impact Apple’s move into the cloud and see Oracle and Apple as potential competitors?

The story is still being written for these two companies and their respective founders, but the most interesting thing to me, is how both sides were able to draw an imaginary line, follow-through with their plans, and be so successful without competing. Two friends from opposite worlds, one line.

steve jobs tux larry ellison black turtleneck

Interview with Pervasive DataRush

Pervasive Software is a company focused on dealing with the complexity of multicore CPU architectures. Much of the current software out there does not take advantage of multicore CPUs; thus, many systems are utilizing their hardware inefficiently. To address these issues, Pervasive offers an entire framework called DataRush. Here is an exclusive interview with Michael … Continue reading “Interview with Pervasive DataRush”

Pervasive DataRush logo

Pervasive Software is a company focused on dealing with the complexity of multicore CPU architectures. Much of the current software out there does not take advantage of multicore CPUs; thus, many systems are utilizing their hardware inefficiently. To address these issues, Pervasive offers an entire framework called DataRush. Here is an exclusive interview with Michael Hoskins, CTO and General Manager, of Pervasive Software.

Michael Hoskins

Continue reading “Interview with Pervasive DataRush”

The Platform Is What Matters

Today, Steve Jobs mentioned that the Apple iPhone will finally opening up for third-party application development in February 2008. Apple will provide a iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) for developers to create applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

iPhone SDK

Today, Steve Jobs mentioned that the Apple iPhone will finally opening up for third-party application development in February 2008. Apple will provide a iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) for developers to create applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Continue reading “The Platform Is What Matters”

Interview with Terracotta

Terracotta provides a world-class JVM clustering solution. This provides Java developers with a way to quickly scale their existing applications from a single JVM to a many JVMs with minimal or no code changes. Here is an exclusive interview with Ari Zilka, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, at Terracotta.

Terracotta logo

Terracotta provides a world-class JVM clustering solution. This provides Java developers with a way to quickly scale their existing applications from a single JVM to a many JVMs with minimal or no code changes. Here is an exclusive interview with Ari Zilka, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, at Terracotta. Continue reading “Interview with Terracotta”

Interview with GridGain

GridGain provides a computational grid framework. These days, CPUs are increasing in performance by adding more cores, rather than MHz. While, this may continue to fulfill Moore’s Law, the development of multi-core applications is becoming an increasingly complex and difficult problem. GridGain alleviates this by providing a powerful framework to address these issues. Here is … Continue reading “Interview with GridGain”

GridGain provides a computational grid framework. These days, CPUs are increasing in performance by adding more cores, rather than MHz. While, this may continue to fulfill Moore’s Law, the development of multi-core applications is becoming an increasingly complex and difficult problem. GridGain alleviates this by providing a powerful framework to address these issues. Here is an exclusive interview with Nikita Ivanov, Grid Computing and Research Advisory, at GridGain. Continue reading “Interview with GridGain”

Interview with GigaSpaces

GigaSpaces owns an amazing set of technologies. They have created a general-purpose, infinitely-scalable, application platform. This is an incredibly difficult problem to solve, but they have managed to solve it. In other words, they provide Google-like technology for the rest of us. Here is an exclusive interview with Geva Perry, Chief Marketing Officer, at GigaSpaces.

GigaSpaces logo

GigaSpaces owns an amazing set of technologies. They have created a general-purpose, infinitely-scalable, application platform. This is an incredibly difficult problem to solve, but they have managed to solve it. In other words, they provide Google-like technology for the rest of us. Here is an exclusive interview with Geva Perry, Chief Marketing Officer, at GigaSpaces.

Continue reading “Interview with GigaSpaces”