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Risk

11/5/2009
06:19 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: Oracle Trapped By EU Politics As Sun Employees Suffer

As thousands of Sun employees face layoffs, the EU ninnies focus on conjuring up an outcome that will make them seem less pathetic than they truly are.

While backing down risks a loss of credibility for Ms. Kroes, continuing to oppose the case could leave her open to charges of exacerbating unemployment.

Meanwhile, Sun has announced layoffs, and the company’s stock price has fallen off because of the delays in the case.

So as the Times sees it, there's a perfect equivalence between (a) Kroes "backing down" and thereby risking "a loss of credibility," and (b) the layoff of 3,000 Sun employees and the plunge in its stock price?

If that's the case, then it would appear that Oracle, in its engagement with the EU, has discovered a vital lesson in global affairs that can be summed up in this bit of backwoods Americana: if you lie down with dogs, don't be surprised if you wake up with fleas.

In the minds of the EU parity-wonks, all this talk about competition and fairness and technology is just a lot of nonsense. For the EU, it's not about right or wrong—it's about appearances, and about trying to maintain the illusion that they stand for anything other than their own vacuous self-importance.

So stand fast, Oracle, and good luck to you in your efforts to complete the merger, save as many jobs as you can, and begin a new chapter in combination with Sun. I sincerely hope—as do many many others who find the EU's behavior utterly contemptible—that those shiftless bureaucrats don't string this out so long that you have no alternative but to call off the merger, which would represent a wretched outcome for you but a far more wretched outcome for the many thousands more Sun employees who'll lose their jobs so that Neelie Kroes can save her face.

P.S.—In this column, I did not go deeply into the technology issues supposedly under consideration by the EU (that is, when they're not trying to figure out how to help Kroes save her face and cover her backside) because we've covered those in detail in earlier columns. If you'd like to get a better fix on those details, below are links to two related columns that will give you extensive background and perspective. The main issue—absurd though it is—that the EU was supposedly investigating was whether Oracle would squelch the MySQL database that Sun now controls, thereby depriving customers from that option so that Oracle could shove down their throats its own more-expensive database. The enormous flaw in that argument, however, is that MySQL is an open-source product, so Oracle couldn't squelch it no matter how hard Oracle tried.

Recommended Reading:

Global CIO: Oracle Nailed By EU Protectionism As IBM and HP Raid Sun

Oracle, MySQL Not Competitors, Says Ingres CEO (by my superb colleague Charlie Babcock

Global CIO: Can Oracle's Larry Ellison Keep MySQL From EU Whiners?

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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