Dana Blankenhorn said “it” again this week in his blog, (“Can database lock-in be broken?”), this time in response to our new release of Actian, version 9.2.
I enjoyed this article and know many people familiar with the “Oracle tax.” Dana cleverly infers this is a fair tax, refering to a consumption based tax system by fairtax.org. While I follow the analogy, I challenge anyone to say the Oracle provides a fair deal to users when he calls the deal “a tax.”
Dana’s obvious point is that paying taxes and paying more to Oracle are similarly unavoidable. Taxes paid to the government typically benefit the populace of tax payers. Does the “Oracle tax” benefit Oracle users? Does Oracle act like a government such as building new roads for the information highway system to the benefit of users? Or, does Oracle hire more tax collectors by acquiring other companies with the profit from the tax? And, does Oracle tax its customers for Oracle’s prosperity or the customers’?
I also appreciate Dana’s analogy to Iron Law, refering to a theory of power based on the efficiencies of bureaucracies, developed circa 1900. The Iron Law applied to Oracle will be tested in 2009 and beyond by the current and ongoing turbulence in the economy. The seismic activity in the economy will either reinforce the bureacracy of Oracle lock-in, or provide users a needed push to break from the tax.
Rhetorically, the answer is yes, “database lock-in [can] be broken?” Three paths come to mind. The most dramatic path, “rip and replace,” will be the least followed. Second, many large companies which pay the Oracle tax today will go out of business. Economic growth will come from small companies, who likely will avoid the tax. Which leads the third path, the software landscape will change dramatically in the next two years. Companies have multiple avenues available to them to consume software applications without the tax, including SaaS, cloud, and open source. Breaking from the grip of lock-in need not be loud and noisy, rather it can happen before we know it.