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Oracle's Game Plan


The three day Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco just finished. Like a lot of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software conferences it wasn't hard to separate the fact from the fiction. However, trying to understand how the conferences main messages merge into users utilization of existing ERP software products can take some guesswork. The four primary messages from Oracle to the attendees of this conference were about virtual technologies, green technologies, software as a service (SaaS) and Oracle's new 11g database technology.

Oracle clearly has an aggressive push and not so clearly understood vision for virtualization. Oracle kicked off the OpenWorld keynote speech with the Oracle VM (virtual machine). This virtualization tool is based on the open source Xen hypervisor and from most announcements it appears Oracle's business model around this tool is the typical virtual support, maintenance and professional services. Virtualization has become mainstream and the database implications with virtualization are fairly obvious. However, I'm not really sure why Oracle chose to make yesterday's news their opening announcement - particularly as they seem to be riding the coattails of another product without adding any substantive value. Maybe there's more to come on this.

Even if only in talk, Oracle has finally picked up on the green wave. Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun and a guy who really does advance green causes, used his keynote to candidly share with the crowd that the "eco" in 'ecofriendly' actually stands for economic and not ecology. As a personal advocate of green technologies I appreciated his straight forwardness as I firmly believe green technologies will not gain mainstream adoption until they deliver financial economies and savings. Fortunately or unfortunately the economies are coming primarily as the results of non-stop demand for increased computing cycles along with continued demand (growing above supply) of energy pushing costs to unpredictable levels.

Larry Ellison demonstrated three new Sales Force Automation (SFA), SaaS-based, Fusion applications during his keynote address. Oracle went a step further stating that every application the company creates from 2008 forward will be SaaS-ready. Most who follow Oracle and hosted software view Oracle's comments as nothing more than lip service. While Oracle makes its business applications 'saas available', this strategy is little more than creating another sales outlet for licensed software. Outside of the Siebel OnDemand product the company acquired, Oracle's hosted offerings do not offer subscription pricing, short term period to period contracts or other commonly available SaaS features (available from competitors) thereby missing most of the saas value proposition.

Finally, Oracle claims the new 11g database makes big strides in terms of simplified implementation, administration and maintenance. I still have Oracle 9i and 10g databases so my quest following this OpenWorld conference will be to evaluate the benefits, costs and upgrade paths in advancing to 11g. Perhaps that evaluation will be the subject if a future blog post.

Posted by: Jeffrey on 11.16.07
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