Oracle's Larry Ellison: I paved the way for NetSuite and Salesforce.com
31st May 2012
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All Oracle's CRM and ERP will be in the Cloud as the firm prepares for a major Cloud Computing strategy announcement next week with CEO Larry Ellison now loving the word 'Cloud'.
“We’re announcing on June 6 the general availability of the Oracle Cloud,” Ellison said at the AllThingsD conference on Wednesday. “So for the first time, you’re going to have the complete ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) suite available in the Cloud.”
That might come as news to NetSuite of course, but back to that C-word. “I'm no longer resisting the name. Call it what you want," admitted Ellison. “They don’t call it the Internet any more. They call it Cloud Computing. I like the word ‘Cloud’ because it’s a charismatic brand.”
But while Ellison has given up his antipathy to the Cloud terminology, there are certain beliefs to which he adheres, most notably his antipathy to the multi-tenant architecture of the likes of Salesforce.com. Oracle’s offering will centre on
user-controlled virtual machines for each customer.
"We have a much more modern version of the Cloud,” Ellison claimed. "In a multi-tenant model you get the new version when they tell you, when you are in your own virtual machine you upgrade when you decide. The nice thing is you don't always have to upgrade."
Despite a highly public falling out last year at the Oracle OpenWorld conference – when Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff found his keynote bumped from the schedule - Ellison says he still regards his former staffer as a friend, but dismisses any notion that Salesforce.com has led Cloud Computing.
Indeed Ellison claims the thought-leader mantle for his own. "NetSuite was my idea, I called up [NetSuite co-founder] Evan Goldberg and said were going to do [enterprise resource planning] on the internet," Ellison said. "Six months later Marc Benioff found out what NetSuite was going to do and he copied it. He said that is a great idea but rather than do ERP on the web he said let's just try and replicate Siebel. He's done a great job with Salesforce.com.”
That’s a version of events that others might not entirely recognise, but there’s no disputing that the kernel is correct: for his public Cloud antipathy, Ellison did back the growth of Software as a Service through majority holdings in NetSuite and a minority stake in Salesforce.com. So what was the beef with the word Cloud?
"What I objected to was the idea that there was this incredibly new thing called 'Cloud Computing’,” explained Ellison. “But before it was called that, there were Salesforce.com and NetSuite and all of these other things. People were saying it was totally new and different, but actually it was a continuous evolution, with application moved from desktop to the network, all beginning with the Internet."
Ellison is more dismissive of the efforts of SAP in the Cloud. "It took us six or seven years to rewrite everything for the Cloud. SAP didn't do it,” Ellison said, claiming that SAP won't be competitive Oracle's new offering for nearly a decade. "SAP announced they will have nothing new until 2020. They are buying Ariba, and they bought SuccessFactors. SAP's business is ERP and they have nothing new in the Cloud for at least eight years and I'd argue nothing for 10 to 12 years.”
The rhetoric that has broken out over Cloud Computing is just the latest sign of what really makes Ellison tick: competition. “Life’s a journey,” he said. “I think we’re all curious about each other. This is a journey of discovery about our own limits. I’m fascinated by technology. I enjoy the competition, I enjoy the process of learning. I don’t know what I would do if retire. When I go sailing the problem is I’ll look around (and ask), ‘Anyone want to race?’ I just like competing.”
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