A squabble over interoperability between Microsoft and Oracle highlights the delicate industry balancing act of cooperating with rivals without giving away competitive proprietary information.
If the battle escalates, the end-user could become a casualty.
Microsoft said at Internet World this week in New York that its Transaction Server will work with Oracle databases but not as well as with other relational databases, because Oracle wouldn't cooperate with Microsoft.
"We need cooperation" between the industry giants, says Paul Kenny, Unix/Oracle manager for the Texas Department of Insurance, in Austin. "If Microsoft is going to be an open platform, I guess that means cooperating with former competitors, or future competitors, in the case of the NC [Network Computer]."
The compatibility issue arose a month after Microsoft criticized Oracle for refusing to give its database to the Redmond, Wash.-based giant for interoperability testing on Windows NT Server 5.0. David Vaskevitch, database and transaction products vice president at Microsoft, urged developers at its last Professional Developers Conference to complain to Oracle.
Vaskevitch says the problem with Oracle has existed for almost two years and he is "puzzled by Oracle's behavior on this."
Oracle called Microsoft's charges ludicrous, and says the NT Server situation was a matter of not having enough advance notice or information. Overall, Oracle treats Microsoft as it does any other competitor with whom it must cooperate, said Mark Jarvis, vice president for server marketing at Oracle.
"We're very tuned in with the NT Server group, because Microsoft wants NT Server to succeed, and we want Oracle databases on NT to succeed," Jarvis says. "But obviously there's no love lost between the Oracle database group and the SQL Server group, because we're competing for the same business."
"Microsoft is known to look at products, and Oracle fears that," added Rich Finkelstein, president of Computer Consulting, in Chicago.