Oracle is set to flesh out its Cloud Computing commitment at its forthcoming Oracle OpenWorld conference later this month with socially-enabled applications also on the agenda.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison – the man who once dismissed Cloud as water vapour – is now a dyed-in-the-wool advocate of the delivery model – or at least the Oracle version of it. With rival Salesforce.com stealing the Cloud thunder this week at its Dreamforce conference, Ellison has been setting out his own stall.
“At Oracle OpenWorld, we'll announce the addition of Infrastructure as a Service to the Oracle Cloud,” he said. “With that addition, Oracle will be providing its customers with all three tiers of Cloud Computing: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
“Our new Infrastructure as a Service offering provides secure, virtualised, compute and storage services. In the Oracle Cloud [with] an identical infrastructure service installed in our customer data centre as an Oracle-managed private Cloud, customers can easily move their applications from traditional custom and packaged applications to our modern Fusion SaaS applications, back and forth between the Oracle Cloud and their private Cloud.”
As for the other planks of the Oracle portfolio, Ellison stated: “Our PaaS offering includes the most popular database in the world, Oracle, and the most popular programming language in the world, Java. Those two industry-standard platform services, combined with our new social network service platform, gives our customers the tools they need to rapidly develop modern applications that run in the Cloud.
“Our SaaS offering includes complete application suites for CRM, HCM and ERP. Today, Oracle delivers more SaaS applications than any other Cloud service provider in the world,” he added. “We actually decided, almost seven years ago, to develop our Fusion Applications, a new generation of applications [when] there was no term called Cloud. It was simply called SaaS. So we decided to offer those new applications as a service. We started developing it seven years ago.”
For all this new-found enthusiasm, Cloud revenues are still a small part of the company’s overall finances. In the most recent quarter Oracle reported combined new software licence and Cloud subscription revenues of $1.6 billion of which the Cloud revenue accounted for $222 million.
The social aspect
With social business dominating the agenda at Dreamforce, Ellison also took time out highlight Oracle’s own play in this space. “Last year, we announced basically social network services as a part of our Cloud platform,” he said. “Now there's two ways to look at social. You can look at social as a separate application. In other words, as a SaaS application, which our friends at Salesforce.com put it in their architectural slide.
“We actually put social at the platform level. It's really a tool that allows you to socially enable any application that you're building. So you would use Java, the Oracle database and our social network services to build a modern social application with social characteristics.”
In other words, social is a tool in the Oracle lexicon. “Social is not an application, a stand-alone application,” Ellison explained. “It's integrated with the platform and all of the applications you build on top of that platform become social.
“What I mean by that is then you can communicate. If one group is using an HR application, another group is using a sales application, those social applications and the HR people can communicate directly with the salespeople and so on. So we put it at the platform level as a tool, not as a stand-alone application level. And we think that architectural difference is a big deal.”
But even if the definitions are different, Oracle does share Salesforce.com’s belief that social is hugely important for future growth. “The social platform adds value to all of our applications,” said Ellison. “So it adds value to our HCM applications. It adds value to our sales applications. It adds value to our service applications. It's adding value and allowing all of these other applications to integrate and communicate.”
Social enablement is also helping to contend with the threat from Cloud challengers, he confirmed. “It's made our HCM applications more competitive against Workday. It makes our sales applications more competitive against Salesforce,” said the Oracle boss. “So we sell more of those. It's more of a differentiator and advantage.”
And in a week when Salesforce.com launched its Marketing Cloud push, Ellison laid claim to having skin in that game as well. “[We have} social at the centre of our marketing applications where we listen to the Twitter feeds, we look at the Facebook posts, we let companies analyse what people are saying about their products and services in other social networks. And then we present that information and insight to them and let them take action on that.
“For example, it comes directly out of our social analysis tools and you can feed it directly into service, into our RightNow service,” he added. “Or we have tools, social tools that allow you to build a Facebook presence, a store on Facebook. So it makes it modern marketing, very social-centric. That's not the only place we're using social -we're using it across all of our apps - but I suppose it's most conspicuous in modern marketing.”
So an OpenWorld built around Cloud and social is on the horizon. One person will be missing of course. Following last year’s public falling out between Oracle and Salesforce.com at OpenWorld, the latter will not be having a presence at this year’s show.
“We are not invited back to Oracle Open World this year for some reason, I don't know why?" quipped Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff at Dreamforce. But doubtless he’ll be watching from afar to see the rival firm’s version of an agenda that has a lot in common with his own.