Oracle CEO and Ozzie sound off

Larry Ellison declares war on HP CEO; Ray Ozzie critiques Microsoft.

IT channel news in brief for Oct. 28, 2010

Oracle-HP-SAP soap opera plays on

The weird Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, SAP triangle continues to play out with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison now threatening to have former SAP exec Leo Apotheker subpoenaed if he dares to show up in Palo Alto for his new gig as HP CEO.

A refresher: Three years ago, Oracle Corp. sued rival SAP, charging that SAP, through its TomorrowNow group, used customers' Oracle accounts to download proprietary Oracle information. That case continues to this day. Fast forward to this year when Oracle hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd as its new co-president. HP was not amused since Oracle, which had been a huge software partner, is now a hardware competitor to HP by virtue of its Sun server and storage business. HP then turned around and hired a former SAP CEO, Leo Apotheker, as its new CEO, and it brought on Ray Lane, a former Oracle president, as the new chairman of the beleaguered HP board. Get it? Anyway, Ellison maintains that Apotheker was in part responsible for SAP/TomorrowNow's bad behavior; hence, the threat of a subpoena.

Apotheker's official start date at HP is November 1.

Meanwhile, former Oracle co-president Charles Phillips is now CEO of Infor, yet another Oracle competitor in ERP applications. Phillips left Oracle in August, after seven years, presumably to make room for Hurd.

Ozzie opines on state of Microsoft

On his way out the door, Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie had a few words to say about the company and its future. Well, not a few -- his Dawn of a New Day blog post is more than 3,000 words -- and prompted one former Ozzie colleague to note that his memos are "bloated, just like Windows."

Parsing the document, Ozzie said, without really saying the words, that the days of Windows and Office are numbered. Windows and Office, of course, are Microsoft's cash cows.

Ozzie wrote: "The early adopters among us have decidedly begun to move away from mentally associating our computing activities with the hardware/software artifacts of our past such as PCs, CD-installed programs, desktops, folders & files."

Software artifacts? Ouch.

Many also read implicit criticism of top Microsoft management into the memo. "The one irrefutable truth," said Ozzie, "is that in any large organization, any transformation that is to 'stick' must emerge from within. Those on the outside can strongly influence, particularly with their wallets. Those above are responsible for developing and articulating a compelling vision, eliminating obstacles, prioritizing resources and generally setting the stage with a principled approach."

For "those above," think Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. While Ozzie was given a lofty title, he was not given direct leadership of any of the powerful product groups. Bob Muglia, Steve Sinofsky, et. al., reported to Ballmer. Those leaders, who headed up the Microsoft Office, Windows groups, had their own agenda promoting the sales of their money-making, on-premises software. (Read: artifacts.) Many did not buy into Ozzie's services and cloud vision.

Others at Microsoft criticize Ozzie for not being a stronger -- and perhaps more strident leader. In that political company, a real field marshal was needed to push the services-and-cloud agenda, they said.

Microsoft announced Ozzie's plans to step down last week.

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