- Sales & CRM
- Business Intelligence
Yesterday, Larry Ellison, Oracle's CEO, pivoted on his past by declaring that: "We made a decision to rebuild all of our applications for the cloud almost seven years ago."
That would then mean his recent and past pronouncements about the cloud as 'gibberish' were....err...gibberish? But seriously, once you get past the inevitable rhetoric and hyperbole that accompanies Ellison's on-stage performance there is something there worth looking at in Oracle's public cloud offerings.
First, let's give credit where it is due.
So, at that fairly superficial level, there is plenty to admire about Fusion on the Oracle public cloud. Unfortunately, Ellison spoils it by over egging the story, bending the truth, hiding behind FUD and other entertaining tactics that only serve to confuse.
For example, he claims that Oracle 'will' have the most comprehensive set of enterprise applications in the cloud but then says it already has over 100 cloud apps. Notice the subtle shifting of the gears? But when you go to the public cloud website and sift through what they are offering there are only 13 Fusion CRM apps and nine Fusion HCM apps on display along with what looks like a solitary social network play.
In the Java section there are is little detail while in the Database area, the company talks about: "The Oracle Database Cloud Service includes a set of business productivity applications. All of these applications are easy to use, support mobile devices, and can be provisioned in seconds."
I don't see how this all adds up to 100 applications and none of them are available now. When you sign up for the free access trial, Oracle talks about database and Java availability sometime in the July/August time frame. CRM and HCM will come 'later' but there are no times set for those releases.
Past experience suggests this will be much later but I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
Right now, if you sign up you can expect a sales call so this is not about getting free access but about having a sales person schmooze you into making a decision. Even then it is not clear whether all comers will automatically get access because Oracle has said it will ramp up in a controlled manner. My sense is that a controlled rollout is needed because reading what Oracle says about virtualised instances, there is no true multi-tenancy. That means Oracle has to find ways of being super efficient at updating customers. It gets around this by saying it will give customers up to a year to upgrade rather than forcing the upgrade which is what often happens in multi-tenant environments. There's just one problem with that. I don't know of a single case where an upgrade wasn't welcomed by Salesforce.com and Workday customers - the obvious targets for this offering.
The flipside is that Oracle needs to be architected the way it is so that it can offer multiple methods of deployment. Some of my colleagues like that choice. I think it is road to nowhere because the multi-tenant benefits far outweigh multiple deployment methods.Oracle argues this is what customers want, but that only holds good for today.
Ellison's first and much anticipated tweet said: "Oracle's got 100+ enterprise applications live in the #cloud today, SAP's got nothin' but SuccessFactors until 2020." It's hard for me to know where to start with this one. I can't find 100 applications and analysts have been told they will be provided with a list. Why wasn't that list available for public scrutiny at the time of launch? It's such an obvious a question that Oracle should have anticipated it. Second, to claim SAP has 'nothing' is simply not true.
Last year, SAP sold Business ByDesign to more than 1,000 customers. Less than 400 are live but even that is more than Oracle is claiming today on relatively limited Fusion functionality. Then there is pricing. Nothing, nada, zippo. This has been a topic of much chatter (sic) in back channels. From what I understand, Oracle is remaining very tight lipped over this topic. That is unusual because Oracle has for years put its price book into the public domain. However, as any seasoned negotiator will tell you, that's meaningless because the company routinely discounts and bundles up its offerings. The cloud works differently and I don't see how Oracle can remain coy on this topic for very long.
Sooner or later, customers will reveal what they're being asked to pay and we'll all know whether Oracle is turning out competitive offerings or whether it is simply transferring its on premises pricing (or rather maintenance) model to a cloud equivalence.
Overall? Oracle is trying to find a middle road of transitioning from an on-premises vendor to one that can simultaneously play in the cloud space. There is plenty to admire but this is very much a first step which, I suspect, is designed to pave the way for more at Oracle Open World, later in the year.