Oracle/AMD Rumors: An Apple for the Enterprise?

Is Ellison being fitted for black turtlenecks?

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I was in the faculty lounge earlier this week and saw something on CNBC that sort of tickled my brain. There are rumors afoot, it seems, about the Oracle wanting to acquire chip-maker AMD.

And, I kid you not, my first thought was, "Is Oracle trying to become Apple?"

Chuckle if you want, but here is my logic, such as it is.

First, you have Oracle buying Sun. Which, in and of itself, wasn't too weird. Big database company wants to buy company that controls the hardware and operating system levels in the stack. Ambitious, but it makes sense.

But then you have all the other Sun goodies Oracle picked up. Like Java, which Oracle is clearly keenly interested in protecting, since it has launched legal action against Google for alleged infringement. And OpenOffice.org, which Oracle was more than willing to let go when the new Document Foundation took the open source office suite's code and started LibreOffice.

So you've got: server hardware (or at least the intellectual property), popular database, very popular and flexible development language, and an office suite to boot. Call me crazy, but doesn't that sound like the beginnings of a very solid enterprise platform?

It does to me, and I have to wonder if an Oracle takeover of AMD might not be motivated by such goals. Yes, they have Sparc, but that architecture didn't work out for Sun too well, especially on the workstations. AMD is an architecture that would be easy to develop for, and cheaper to produce, I believe.

What if Larry Ellison is looking at the "walled garden" approach that Apple is trying for the consumer space and thinking about duplicating that in the enterprise space?

There are problems with this line of reasoning, not the least of which is that trying to start a locked-in platform in an age where Linux and even Windows can operate freely on commodity machines would seem to be insane. But if pitched right--"secure workstations for the cloud'--is it really that far fetched?

It would explain, to me at least, the moves Oracle has made with Oracle Linux and Solaris. By distancing these platforms from other operating systems and their communities, Oracle could be positioning itself to build a whole new line of machines for the enterprise that would handle database, office suite, and (thanks to Java) a whole slew of applications.

AMD, of course, is denying such rumors, and there is really nothing more than rumor to go on at this point.

Think of the possibilities, though. An Apple-like Oracle device at the enterprise level could offer customers better security management, data integration, user identity control--and, best of all for Oracle, they would own nearly every piece of the stack on which the device was built. Completely not open source friendly (like Apple), but very attractive to Oracle.

Timothy Prickett Morgan has put together an alternate, and possibly more reasonable, theory on what an Oracle acquisition of AMD would look like, so you have something else to ponder.

If it were anyone but Larry Ellison in charge of Oracle, I might wave this off as a crazy notion. But with Ellison, risk taking is part of the package.

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