In an earlier post covering recent Oracle rumors, I linked to one blogger who believed a MySQL version of Unbreakable Linux could be a good thing for everyone (not just Oracle). Now another voice, Brian Profitt from ServerWatch.com, has chimed in with a similar opinion.
Profitt doesn’t pull any punches — he makes it clear that he believes Oracle’s reasons for offering support for open source products are less than altruistic (his “initial reaction,” he says, was “Oracle = Arrogant”). Nonetheless, he argues, these “Unbreakable” offerings are ultimately beneficial for the market and the enterprise — Oracle is bringing us closer to the dream of “one-stop shopping,” a world where customers can go to a single vendor for all their products and support. The open sourcers “should have thought of doing this before,” he says. But they were too busy playing by “the old rules.”
Mike Olson, Oracle’s VP of embedded technologies, responds to this article on his own blog. Surprisingly, he doesn’t jump to Oracle’s defense or refute Profitt’s claims. He writes:
Brian talks about selfish and altruistic motivation, and asserts that Oracle acts selfishly. He’s right, and it’s important to understand why.
Olson contends that all public companies invest in research and development for the same reason: to drive profits and shareholder value. However, the effect of this is, he claims, “indistinguishable from altruism.” It’s in Oracle’s interest to keep its customers happy, so Oracle delivers better products and service. If everyone reaps the benefits of this, who cares if the motives are selfish or not?
(Olson here focuses on Oracle’s support plan for Linux; he doesn’t affirm or deny the rumors about MySQL.)
What do you think? Do selfish corporations contribute to a healthier, happier market? Or is there still something to be said for the old rules and fair play?
–Elisa Gabbert, Assistant Editor