Traditionally, the IT market has been deeply fragmented with numerous vendors offering countless of products and IT leaders have been left holding the proverbial bag of varied and mixed technologies to interoperate, integrate, optimize, and solve complex organizational problems with.
While competition is a great thing in driving innovation, service, and cost efficiencies, the results of the current fragmented IT market has been that organizations buy value or best of breed technologies from across the vendor universe, only to find that they cannot make them work with their other IT investments and infrastructure.
The result has been a contribution to IT execution that has become notorious for delivering an 82% project failure rate as reported by the Standish group.
Typically, what follows numerous attempts to resuscitate a code blue IT project is the eventual abandonment of the investment, only to be followed, by the purchase of a new one, with hopes of doing it “right” the next time. However, based on historical trends, there is a 4 out of 5 chance, we run into the same project integration issues again and again.
Oracle and other IT vendors are promoting an integration strategy to address this.
Overall, Oracle’s integration strategy is that organizations are envisioned to “buy the complete IT stack” and standup “engineered systems” more quickly and save money than if they have to purchase individual components and start trying to integrate them themselves. Some examples of this are their Exadata Storage Servers and Fusion Applications.
Oracle is not the first company to try this integration/bundling approach and in fact, many companies have succeeded by simplifying the consumers experience such as Apple bringing together iTunes software with the iPod/iPad/Mac hardware or more generally the creation of the smartphone with the integration of phone, web, email, business productivity apps, GPS, games, and more. Similarly, Google is working on its own integration strategy of business and personal application utilities from Google Docs to Google Me.
Of course, the key is to provide a sophisticated-level of integration, simplifying and enhancing the end-user experience, without becoming more generally anticompetitive.
On the other hand, not all companies with integration strategies and product offerings are successful. Some are more hype than reality and are used to drive sales rather than actually deliver on the integration promise. In other words, just having an integration strategy does not integration make.
For the IT leader, choosing best of breed or best of suite is not an easy choice. We want to increase capabilities to our organizations, and we need a solutions strategy that will deliver for our end users now.
While an integration strategy by individual companies can be attractive to simplify our execution of the projects, in the longer-term, cloud computing offers an alternative model, whereby we attach to infrastructure and services outside of our own domains on a flexible, as needed basis and where in theory at least, we do not need to make traditional IT investment on this scale at all anymore.
In the end, a lot of this discussion comes down to security and trust in the solution/vendor and the ability to meet our mission needs cost-effectively without a lot of tinkering to try to put the disparate pieces together.