Beef up the user groups


Gartner has some interesting, if slightly belated, comment on Oracle’s proposed proposed takeover BEA. It puts the move down to Oracle’s desire to consolidate the market rather than its need to acquire technology.

The acquisition of technology was, of course, the motivation for SAP’s move to snap up Business Objects earlier this month.

Gartner’s analysis notes, “The technology of BEA's portfolio and Oracle Fusion Middleware overlaps significantly, so an acquisition would mean a lot of rationalisation.”

It goes on to state that, “The offer might create obstacles for BEA by generating uncertainty in clients and prospective customers. It might also pose problems for Oracle, as prospects may not buy products that might be replaced by BEA equivalents or be converged.

“Oracle has given no indication about the direction of products after an acquisition. Even though it has stated it intends to protect customers' investments in BEA products, its product road maps and convergence plans are still unknown.”

This should set alarm bells ringing among end users. Oracle well understands the need to protect the investments of the customers of the rival vendors it buys.

Way back at the start of the merger boom that led to Project Fusion – with the takeover of Peoplesoft - Oracle moved quickly to reassure doubters by promising lifetime support for the products it acquired. That was an important move, but it has left question marks over product development.

Those questions also surround the BEA deal. As Gartner notes, “BEA's technology is generally of a high quality, so it is not certain that Oracle's own products would always be strategic.” There could be a lot of grief behind that phrase.

Gartner’s prescription for end users is less incisive than its analysis – it essentially amounts to “keep a careful watch”. Surely it should also be “get organised”. The best way to make sure vendors do what their customers want is, as ever, to have strong, independent user groups. Independence costs time, effort and cash, but it is worthwhile.

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