In the past it has often been difficult to get information out of Oracle. In fact, it was often the case that enterprises outside of the US knew more about what was happening at Oracle than those within, as executives toured the globe for the launch of one product or another. However, Mark Hurd, President of Oracle, has said he will remedy that by giving regular press briefings. The first one held last night focused on the cloud, Oracle’s business vision for the cloud, and that old chestnut from yesteryear, Sun.
The briefing lasted all of 30 minutes and, as Hurd himself said, contained very little that was new. In spite of this, the fact that Oracle has taken this step in itself is a welcome move forward and one that needs to be encouraged with Oracle, as well as a few of the other IT giants. He was joined by Oracle executive vice president Thomas Kurian.
Over the course of the half hour, Hurd and Kurian outlined some of the releases that we can expect over the next few months without being very specific about them.
Oracle Cloud Services
The cloud and Oracle's cloud business was the main item on the agenda. Hurd explained that in the coming months the lines between public cloud services and the private cloud will become more and more obscured as Oracle continues to expand its range of cloud services across SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
Highlights to watch for include the introduction of new social cloud services as well as developer services to ride on top of its PaaS offering, which will complement the Data and Java services as a service.
As a business strategy this means that Oracle aims to deliver everything for every part of the stack from microprocessors to databases and to middleware. So far, it seems, the strategy has been successful as Hurd says that Oracle now has 10,000 cloud customers that cover 25 million cloud users globally -- nine of the top ten SaaS providers are powered by Oracle, he said.
To power this, Oracle now has two data centers in Europe and two in the Asia Pacific region on top of those in the US to cater for international demand and data needs, although it seems unlikely that it will be able to manage with this as demand for cloud services and data storage grows.
In addition to the PaaS and SaaS offerings, Hurd and Kurian spent time explaining Oracle IaaS -- an on-premises, subscription-based solution that customers can scale up or down based on their needs at a given moment.
Addressing issues around Oracle’s cloud strategy announced in September, executive vice president Thomas Kurian outlined some of what Oracle sees as the highlights since then.
It released a whole range of new releases for its SaaS offerings in all the main business areas that Oracle currently plays in like sales and marketing, talent management, HR and ERP. He also said that over the coming months users would also see more integration across the Oracle cloud platform.
It also announced releases of its social relations management and social engagement products.
One other issue that came up as a question and which in light of the turbulent times surrounding HP was particularly interesting, was the question of Sun and that acquisition.
According to Hurd ,Oracle has now reached a point where it is close to resuming growth in its hardware business three years after the Sun deal, which cost it US$ 7.4 billion.
By now, Hurd says, Sun has more than paid for itself with the cash flow exceeding the value of what it paid in the first place.
Given the technologies that it acquired as a result of the buy -- Java developments tools, server technology/hardware -- this should hardly be surprising, but it is good to know.
.While hardware system sales declined at the end of the second quarter ending November 30, it still accounted for 8% of total sales, which with services and hardware support added in, it ammounted to15% of revenues for the quarter.
This, as well, in an economy where we have already seen a decline in hardware sales for companies like Dell or HP as some of the US’s bigger European customers have been holding onto what they have until the upturn kicks in.
But it’s not just about economies. Oracle has been putting a lot into selling hardware with Oracle software with products. Exadata and Exlogics is a case in point, while Oracle at the same time has discontinued the OEM sale of other storage systems from other vendors.
Overall, Engineered Systems look like they are beginning to create serious market traction with 70 percent sequential growth in sales bookings in the second quarter.
While interesting, the call was short on specifics, but it's a good start. Oracle has promised calls similar to this in the future, when we hope to learn more of Oracle's future plans.