Packet Rat: California meets the dark side of the Force

GCN Illustration by Michael J. Bechetti

The Rat has been following events in Sacramento, Calif., with interest, and he doesn't mean just the Kings' progress in the NBA playoffs. There's an even more entertaining game going on in the Golden State capital: the Oracle Hot Potato.

Oracle Corp., through reseller Northrop Grumman Information Technology, sold the state $95 million worth of database software, seemingly more than the state could possibly need.

What's more, California officials never solicited competitive bids and apparently didn't follow due diligence. Now fingers are pointing and heads are rolling. Gov. Gray Davis has even given back a $25,000 campaign contribution from Oracle.

How did this happen? The Rat has his suspicions. As he stood in line with the ratlings to see 'Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,' he was struck by a sudden insight.

Some in the software biz regard Microsoft Corp. as the Evil Empire, but Oracle's Redwood Shores, Calif., headquarters looks more like the Death Star than anything in Redmond, Wash. And Oracle chief Larry Ellison, self-styled samurai and would-be MiG fighter pilot, wears a lot of black.

'Ellison has got to be a Sith lord,' the Rat muttered.

'Really?' his excited offspring asked. 'A real live Sith lord? Does he have spikes coming out of his head?'

The Rat explained that he was speaking metaphorically. But he wasn't so sure that the comment couldn't be taken literally. Ellison must have performed a Jedi mind trick for Oracle to get the California contract.

Here's how the Rat imagines it went down:

'Well, this proposal is great,' says the director of acquisitions for California's IT Department.

'Of course, we'll need to get some competitive bids,' the deputy director says.
Ellison, listening in by conference call, waves his hand in the air and says, 'You don't need any competitive bids.'

'We don't need competitive bids,' the director repeats. 'There are no other products that meet our requirements.'

'Now, we will have to do a thorough check of the terms of this contract against our requirements,' the deputy says.

'Absolutely,' his chief agrees.
Again Ellison waves his hand. 'You don't need to check the contract.'

'On the other hand, I'm certain Oracle and its resellers have the state's best interests at heart,' the chief says.

'I'd like at least to get some information to back up your savings claims,' the deputy tells the reseller team.

'We'll get that for you,' the lead consultant replies. As he turns to leave, he suddenly lurches into the air, chokes, then drops to the floor.

The associate's cell phone rings. 'We're going to have to get back to you on that last thing,' he says to the California officials before he drags his late boss out to a waiting black limo.
Of course, this is only a theory, mind you.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at [email protected].

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