Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Integrated Systems Engineering Redux

Today, Oracle is presenting a webcast describing their strategy for the company going forward after the Sun acquisition. In the first 20 minutes there was much discussion about delivering integrated systems: applications + database + OS + hardware. This is a tremendous value proposition. It is such a tremendous value proposition that it could have been taken from the slides we put together 8 years ago in Sun's Integrated Systems Engineering group.
We had difficulties with the business of delivering such integrated solutions. Sure, there were a few technical difficulties, but working together with the different engineering groups at Sun and Oracle, we were able to deliver a good technical solution. However, the business challenges of working across different product groups and companies were insurmountable at the time. In the end, the Integrated Systems Engineering group was disbanded and the products were EOLed.
In my position as Chief Architect for the Integrated Systems Engineering group, I had the pleasure of working with many talented engineers and product marketing teams. But the experience taught me that very good technical solutions may not be successful because of the rest of the business activities needed to ensure the right products offering the right value are delivered at the right time to the right market. And those products include much more than a what a systems engineering team can integrate in a lab. This is why I entered the EMBA program at USC's Marshall School of Business. I already knew how to integrate complex systems and make them simple to install and manage. But I did not know how to take such a product and make it successful in the market. I'm a lot smarter now.
I wish Oracle well in their future endeavors. The value proposition is good. The need exists. The challenges are difficult. If they can overcome the non-technical barriers, the future looks bright.

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