It was classic Larry Ellison on stage, part brilliant computer scientist, part hammy comedian, always entertaining.
Oracle OpenWorld, his company's mammoth annual convention that virtually shuts down the heart of San Francisco's SoMa district, will continue through tomorrow.
But Ellison's keynote presentation yesterday pretty much solidified the intended message for the capacity crowd: Oracle, which trailed its rivals to the cloud, now wants to be king of the cumulous.
Doubters will remain after the party is over, particularly as the company struggles to appease Wall Street analysts who've grown wary of disappointing earnings and a slumping stock price. Despite this week's pep rally, shares were off another 3 cents at $38.25 in after-hours trading following Ellison's presentation. That's more than 12 percent below their 52-week high in June.
Ellison began his pitch with the new Oracle platform, which he noted is the same platform Oracle uses internally for development. "Most (Software-as-a-Service) SaaS companies don't offer you Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), period," Ellison noted. "The few that do don't offer you the same platform they build on."
"Salesforce builds and runs its applications on top of Oracle databases," he said. "SAP builds and runs its applications on top of Oracle database. NetSuite builds and runs its applications on top of Oracle databases. So do we, and so does just about everyone else."
Ellison, who spent more than half his 70 years as CEO of Oracle, recently switched to CTO and executive chairman. He joked about the career transition through a five-minute demonstration of how to move a large database from an on-premise system to the new Oracle Database-as-a-Service (DaaS).
"Now that I'm CTO, I have to do my own demos. I used to have help and now it's gone. Nobody works for me," he quipped.
"I love my new job, by the way."
Click, Click, Click, Done
The crowd laughed. Then Ellison clicked a few links to complete what used to be a highly technical IT task that required custom coding. On Oracle, it's now comparable to running a backup on your home PC. When he finished, he signed on to an adjacent cloud-based system to prove it worked.
"I'll sign in as John Smith. They took away my CEO title. They took away my name," he joke again, adding, "It's been a rough few weeks."
Then he rattled of the advantages of Oracle 11 and 12. For one, when you migrate your data to the cloud, Oracle automatically compresses it by a 10:1 ratio, which makes it run much faster, he said. Oracle also encrypts the data for added security and will automatically apply patches, further saving time and making the system easier to use, he continued.
Because the database in the cloud is virtually identical to the on-premise version, all of on-premise apps will run in the cloud — with what Ellison promised were "major gains in efficiency."
"All the tools that work on top of Oracle on-premise work on Oracle in the cloud," he said. "Pushing a button allows us to modernize your application without you doing anything."
It was time for the final demo. "I am now Jason Lee, retail store manager," he said. He then showed some of the social features of the system, conducting an election for a fictional employee of the month.
Ellison pointed out that businesses like to think they have all their data in one place, but most don't. They may have it in SQL, Hadoop or NoSQL databases. And they may have several databases in each.
"The solution to that is we're going to put SQL language on top of Hadoop. We're going to put SQL language on top of NoSQL," he explained. In essence, that "creates the illusion that all the data is in one place ... and we give you extreme performance. This runs very, very fast."
Oracle's Other Stuff
Hours before Ellison's appearance, Thomas Kurian, Oracle's SVP for product development (right), reviewed some of the other 290 software products the company has introduced this year during his own keynote address. He broke them into several groups that embrace big data, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), PaaS and SaaS -- cloud, cloud, cloud. Here's a sampling:
Big Data Discovery: Oracle now offers visual browser-based tools that allow users to review, analyze and repair data in Hadoop. Faster database speeds allow the visualization, making the tools more friendly to business users, including those using JDEdwards, PeopleSoft or other Oracle cloud groups like marketing.
Mobile: Oracle focused on three problems: mobile access to systems, building apps and security. The new products allow users to build a single code base, tailor it to specific data group and apply it across different operating systems and devices. It allows single sign-on so that users can use the same passwords inside and outside the office. Finally, it created a "secure container" inside mobile devices to hold corporate apps and data that can be wiped clean if the device is lost or the user leaves the company.
Cloud: He noted the cloud-based twin of the on-premise database allows for "portability" so that data and apps can be transferred back and forth from the cloud to on-premise, making it easier for developers to test products. Social business users now have access to an in-house collaboration network on which they can share any of the data from corporate apps, including spreadsheets or documents. Kurian said millions of customers are already using that feature. The cloud services also sync data across devices and allow that to be shared in secure workgroups.
Kurian noted 90 percent of all data was created in the past two years and that data is expected to grow 50-fold by 2020. Oracle's strategy, he said, is to harness that data with Hadoop, store it in warehouses and make it available to business users through visual analytics tools.
Business is Technology
Even before Kurian's speech, Didier Bonnet, SVP and global practice leader for Capgemini, put the importance of technology into perspective. Bonnet just co-authored the book "Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation," which included four years of research on 500 leading companies that represent about 94 percent of business.
The study found that companies classified as "digital masters" grew about 9 percent faster than the average while "beginners" trail by 4 percent and technology "conservatives" followed by 10 percent.
"We really believe we're at an inflection point in how business and technology work together," he said. "We really, fundamentally became convinced that tech is the biggest thing in business today. Whether you're a strategist, a supply chain driver or helping to drive the customer experience, you can't disassociate the two."
Title image by Tom Murphy / CMSWire.
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