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Deputy mayor of London wages war on Oracle

Caroline Baldwin

Deputy mayor of London for business and enterprise, Kit Malthouse, has waged war on the database giant Oracle over its licensing fees.

The deputy mayor said there was an opportunity for a new data company to come into the market and “crack the lock” Oracle has over the government.

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“Like most people in government, I’ve been screwed by Oracle,” said Malthouse.

He explained to the audience of the Big Data Breakfast in London on the morning of 18 June that during his time as chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), the organisation was running vast amounts of data on Oracle’s platform.

“Of course, our licence came up for renewal, and we said ‘Look, it’s austerity Britain and we’re a great customer, can we have a reduction?’” said Malthouse. “And they told us politely to ‘get stuffed’.”

He said it is not just the MPA that has been affected, but the Inland Revenue and the health service.

“Oracle seems to be the only people who can handle data on the vast volume,” he said.

“But there’s an opportunity there. I want someone in London to crack the Oracle lock they have.”

Speaking to the audience of the big data event hosted by WANdisco and Tech London Advocates today, Malthouse called on the tech startups and entrepreneurs of London to create a new company to challenge Oracle’s dominance in the data market.

“I hope we’re planting an acorn somewhere in London that will take it down,” he said.

Talking about the power of big data and open data, Malthouse said police had been learning systematically how to use data.

“We learned in a Tom Cruise weird way that we could pretty much predict not only where a crime was going to happen but what time of day, largely what day of the week and more often than not who was likely to be the criminal.”

Malthouse encouraged the audience to increase the amount of homegrown talent by offering up apprenticeships to train young people from the UK.

He said that around 170,000 apprenticeship places have already been created in London, but he wanted to increase that figure to the target of 250,000.

He noted that companies including IBM, Microsoft and WANdisco have agreed to help create an additional 2,000 apprenticeships.

David Richards, founder and CEO of WANdisco, said: “Our Big Data Apprenticeship Scheme is a symbol of the sort of hands-on skills we should be teaching young graduates. It is a crying shame that unemployment figures among computer science graduates remain so high during a national resurgence of our technology sector. We’re trying to lead by example and start the process of change in the training of our young employees.”

WANdisco has committed to hiring four local school leavers or graduates to train them in the skills needed to develop and build big data products using Apache Hadoop.


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