Oracle: A Gentle, Dulcet Reminder of What It Takes to Survive in the Digital Jungle

March 12, 2020

Before It Sued Google for Copying from Java, Oracle Got Rich Copying IBM’s SQL” is a deerskin moccasin stroll through a dark, dangerous thicket. A company with a penchant for oatmeal container architecture and renaming roadways should serve as a flashing yellow light.

The write up uses phrases like those favored by DarkCyber; for example:

Oracle’s history highlights a possible downside to its stance on API copyrights.

Yeah, but history is a consequence of bright individuals who seize on a particular molecule from the event stream. History does not highlight anything. Humans like lawyers, analysts, and writers do. The “possible downside” is a hedge against a former Marine who can be — ah, what is the word, — “frisky”.

The write-up says:

Oracle got its start in the 1970s selling a database product based on the then-new structured query language (SQL). SQL was invented by IBM. And Oracle doesn’t seem to have gotten a license to use it.

Yikes. What’s this mean? DarkCyber turns to the article for guidance:

Oracle got its start copying IBM’s software interface.

Yes, that’s clear.

Plus, there’s a molecule from the event stream; specifically:

Around 1977, Larry Ellison and his co-founders spotted an opportunity. They had recently started a software consulting company called Software Development Laboratories, but they wanted to transition to selling a software product. Ellison realized there was enough detail in IBM’s white papers to clone IBM’s database technology. He also realized that it would provide a credibility boost if he could say that their new Oracle database was fully compatible with IBM’s SQL standard. According to one of SQL’s designers, Donald Chamberlin, Ellison was so determined to achieve compatibility with IBM’s technology that he called Chamberlin in 1978 seeking more details about IBM’s implementation of SQL.

The digital equivalent of the two largest blocks in the former Soviet union sat down to talk turkey about Java. Oracle “owned” it; Google had some Sun Microsystems’ employees who had a bit of experience with the “write once, run anywhere” methods.

The write up states:

Google claims that “negotiations broke down over issues unrelated to money.” Google says Sun sought more control over the evolution of the Android platform than Google was willing to offer. So Google decided to build its own version of Java without a license from Sun.

The river flowed, and the rushing waters are behaving with the oddball physics of fluid dynamics. Oracle was thrashed; Google was cyclonic.

The roaring river of legal fees has reached the Supreme Court. Will the legal dam of the copyright crowd hold, or will the “let the digital water flow” of the Google crowd prevail?

The write up creeps quietly away, offering this statement:

…fair use is a notoriously complex and subjective legal standard. Any company wanting to make its software interoperable with a competitor’s product would have to worry that the competitor could sue, arguing that this use wasn’t as fair as Google’s use of Java. Most software companies don’t have Google’s legal resources or staying power, so the prospect of a lawsuit—even one they’re likely to win—could be a major deterrent to building interoperable software.

The shadow of no or reduced interoperability falls. On the other hand, consultants, integrators, resellers, and innovators see a new dawn rising.

Go with history. The sun comes up every day, at least so far.

Stephen E Arnold, March 12, 2020


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta