At one time computer companies made complete systems including hardware and software, but few such firms are left today.
However, with the purchase of Sun Microsystems, Oracle, still usually thought of as a database vendor, joined this small group, according to Alan Hartwell, Oracle's vice president of technology solutions and channels UK.
"We said that the combination of Oracle and Sun was game changing," he said, noting also the cumulative impact of the past seven years of acquisitions and R&D.
Since 2003, Oracle has acquired more than 50 other companies, including what Hartwell calls 'best of breed' enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and storage systems.
"No one else can provide customers with full solutions, from application to disk. Our recently announced innovative products make this prediction a reality," he said.
Hartwell explained that HP might be seen as a competitor, that Microsoft has software but not hardware, that IBM has hardware but not all of the software, and that Apple is the nearest in approach but aims its products at consumers. "We think we're unique in doing this for the enterprise market," he added.
The proposition is straightforward: delivering pre-integrated systems from the application layer on desktop or mobile through the middleware, operating system, hardware and storage layers, thereby eliminating the traditional industry practice of sourcing many different pieces and making them work together.
For Hartwell, that traditional 'DIY' style is like buying an engine and a truck bed and having to check which wheel gauge fits your local roads, a phase he says many industries go through - and grow out of.
In 1996, when most people were focused on increasingly powerful PCs, Oracle began promoting the idea of the thin client, or network computer. It didn't take off at the time, but has its analogue in the dumb terminals connected to 1970s mainframes and today's cloud computing.
At the time it made sense, according to Hartwell, who has been with Oracle since 1998 and before that worked in the IT and financial sectors. PCs were expensive, and 80 per cent of their functionality was going unused.
"It was more business sense: just buy units that did what most people wanted them to do. The idea was perfectly sound, but then the price dropped until the cost of having the unit didn't matter," he said.
The failed idea of the network computer has at least a partial legacy in application-to-disk, which eliminates wasted resources at the user end and sells a whole system.
"Organisations that want a competitive advantage in the marketplace want to concentrate on what they do best. They don't want to be an IT organisation to achieve that," he said.
"That's our business proposition: we've done all the integration you would otherwise have to do."
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