Gareth Baxendale is the head of Technical Services at the NIHR CRN, he has a unique view as to the technology and solutions deployed in our organisation. He provides business ownership for the strategic infrastructure in our organisation and knows his onions!

When you think of Oracle, the first thing you likely think of is ‘database’. While this is true, and is a major flagship of the company; it’s interesting to consider the vastness of Oracle’s offerings… Like modern supermarkets, Oracle will sell you almost anything under one roof…

Consider their ever growing ‘product list’ which currently stands at 922 and you get the idea that Oracle have an ‘app for all occasions’. In fact they do, if you’re looking for a financial package you can select from numerous options available. If you’re in the market for Business Intelligence tools, then Oracle will open their inside coat and dazzle you with an array of BI watches to choose from…

But as with most major enterprises, Oracle do not develop all their own products from scratch, in fact if you compare the ‘Acquired Products list’ you will find that 418 products are listed. Oracle acquire businesses and more importantly IP and a live customer base as the need arises, and unlike other more tightly constrained enterprises, Oracle’s portfolio appears to be without limits other than, ‘if a business needs it then it shall be added to the list’.

Over the years Oracle has acquired some big names, take for example SUN MicroSystems in 2010, they do a small product called JAVA, now one of the most widely used programming languages in the world… and installed on 3 billion mobile devices, and 125 million Smart TV’s, not bad for a company that just does a database…! not many tech companies can make such grand claims, even your BluRay player has JAVA built in. More recently acquisitions are very much cloud based technologies to augment the portfolio of offerings and to satisfy customer’s perceived needs.

All very impressive, but developers still raise the question “how do we get it all to work together?”. Oracle happily provide ‘suites’ of technology that all integrate, take theirMiddleware technologies as an example. Many of these offerings are from acquired systems rather than built from scratch, which is fine, however this often leaves the whole ‘integration’ piece to become a bit of an ‘art form’ by skilled developers who have honed their skills over the years and often apply workarounds until a ‘new release’ is available. This is not to say that the products or approach are flawed but you will have to take a considered view of how you develop and maintain Oracle systems long-term and the return-on-investment against your business strategy.

Oracle’s tag line is “Oracle provides the world’s most complete, open, and integrated business software and hardware systems.” Can’t argue with that, Oracle can be considered a one-stop-shop for all your business needs, however it does not necessarily translate into reduced business risk or reduced operational costs. On the other hand you will be supported by a $37 billion dollar a year company which, arguably, comes with certain assurances.

Oracle do some amazing products, not just their famous database, but as always you must consider if you really want ‘all your eggs in one basket’ or diversify your technical portfolio with other vendors, although you still have integration to think about… Sorry!

To hear more from Gareth go here – Gareth Baxendale