Book: Softwar – an intimate portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle

This is blog entry I wrote over a two years ago – before this blog has even started. Now I found it on the disk during cleanups and found out it is still valid. The iPod mentioned was my first, now long dead first generation Shuffle.

Here it comes:

Spent most of Friday night and part of Saturday reading this book. I did not really expect to finish it, considering the size (~ 500 pages) and the fact that I am not such a great fan of Oracle products – especially not the Oracle Apps. But it turned up to be way better that expected. I mean the book, albeit I partially improved my opinion about the 11i. Technologywise, it is still kind a dinosaur, but now I can more appreciate the sheer size of the problem these guys were trying to address. But back to the book.

The author IMHO did a pretty good job being fair observer. On almost each page, there are comments and notes written by Larry Ellison, which often provide a view from the alternate reality. That was the best part. All summed up, I learned a lot. I did not know before that many of the dot-com eBusiness big names such as Ariba, i2, Siebel were actually founded and run by ex-Oracle employees, usually senior sales folks (e.g. Tom Siebel). Understanding the history of Oracle, from first commercial non-mainframe relational, database through applications up to latest entrance into J2EE world with licensing Orion and making it OC4J, was very illuminating and I quite enjoyed it.

This guy (I mean LE, not the author) is really interesting and definitely smart. Not exactly that type of personality I would enjoy spending a lot of time with, but certainly somebody you will not forget. I did not know about the yachts, 40 acre house with artificial, earthquake-resistant 5 acre lake and a Zen garden. Some people indulge themselves with toys such as iPods and notebooks, some with 300 foot yachts and jet fighters. I hope that Larry enjoyed them as much as I my iPod :-).

Some of the Larry’s comments are really funny:

“People regularly mistake obedience for intelligence. That’s why we think that dogs are more intelligent than cats. .. A dog will fetch a stick every time you throw it. A cat will look at you and wonder: If you wanted the stick, why did you throw it away in a first place? Get it yourself, idiot.” (page 335)

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