Oracle and Sun: The Rise of the Pre-Integrator

OK, so IBM didn't get Sun, as I'd previously assumed; it looks like Oracle will. The effect is the same - there's a new class of IT provider emerging, which I've refined my thinking to call the pre-integrator, a real-back-to-the-future approach to IT with big implications for the entire industry.

In the early days of computing, you'd buy the computer, OS, and apps from a single vendor - IBM mainframe, OS (yes, just "OS"), and accounting software, for example, all from IBM. Thanks to advances in VLSI, we saw the industry diverge to standardized PCs (albeit defined by Microsoft), third-party OSes (mostly Microsoft), and third-party applications (Microsoft and others). This approach to vertical integration was rare, although Apple has practiced it to great success thanks to cult-like marketing and a cult-like user base. As I previously noted, we're returning to this model as the mainstream. Look at Oracle and Sun - hardware (chips, servers, storage, desktops, thin clients, and more), operating system (Solaris, which, who knows, just might compete with LINUX), programming languages (Java has a long way to run yet), database systems, and all kinds of applications, including the StarOffice/OpenOffice family and other communications and collaboration tools, as well as Oracle's vast array of apps. One could literally get all one needs for just about any application (or to build just about any application) from this one-stop source. That's just what I was talking about before.

The pre-integrator (I don't, somehow, think this term is going to stick), then, is an IT manufacturer that can provide pre-integrated solutions from its own product lines. That's what the combined Oracle/Sun will be. And they join HP and what I think will be at least one or two others at the top of the vendor list for multinationals and eventually the broad mainstream of IT everywhere. And, OK, Oracle's mobility story isn't great at present. But I, for one, am staying tuned.

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