In place of my morning newspaper today, I decided to peruse the Oregon v. Oracle racketeering criminal case published last week. For those that aren’t in the know, the state of Oregon and Oracle have been in an epic dispute over the delivery of the “Cover Oregon” site, the state’s botched effort to build an online marketplace where state residents can shop for health insurance and get financial help.
Both state and company are suing one another claiming the other was responsible for the disastrous effort. In Oregon’s claim they state that Oracle has failed to “deliver on its obligations, overcharging for poorly trained Oracle personnel to provide incompetent work, hiding from the State the true extent of Oracle’s shoddy performance, continuing to promise what it could not deliver, and willfully refusing to honor its warranty to fix its errors without charge (Oregon v. Oracle America).” Ouch!!!
As an outsider looking in, it’s impossible to really know what’s going on here and where fault truly lies. However, as an avid follower of “TMZ,” there are some salacious topics that I feel compelled to gossip about.
Over the years I have argued that the acquisition model of the mammoth legacy vendors have been inherently dangerous for customers buying software. Companies like Oracle, CA and IBM build “check box” portfolios through acquisition. They acquire best of breed products, lump them together with “like” products and sell them to customers as “suites.” These duct tape bundles are poorly integrated and pass an unacceptable amount of integration costs on to customers. In short, I’m not shocked when I read Oregon’s claim that “the ‘Oracle Solution’ was not flexible, was not integrated, and most importantly, did not work “out-of-the-box.”
The world has changed! Consumer-facing solutions are high-stakes! As CIOs shift technology investment from operational efforts to business critical efforts the stakes dramatically change. Government health care systems need to be delivered within legally mandated timeframes. There is no room for error! Gone are the days where a behemoth vendor can sell poorly architected software that takes years to deliver.
Remember the saying: “No one ever got fired for buying IBM?” Well … someone just did.