SAN FRANCISCO—Oracle OpenWorld 2014 at the Moscone Center is first about entertaining many of the company's 400,000 customers. Secondly, it's about setting the scene for new sales and marketing deals. Thirdly, it's about the Aerosmith concert. Finally, it's about news.
Frankly, when Co-President Mark Hurd sat down onstage in the morning keynote and asked the CIOs of GE, Xerox and Pearson: "Well, what's happening at your company?" it didn't take a detective to see there wasn't much news on the docket.
If you listened in to the company's earnings call on Sept. 18, then-CEO (now CTO and Board Chairman) Larry Ellison pretty much explained Oracle's news in a paragraph: "We're your data center, we're your database company, we're your server company, we're your storage company, we're your networking company," Ellison said.
"We think we have all the assets to become the one big company that can make the transition to cloud. This is our great opportunity, and we're not going to miss it."
Technically, the company this week did announce some new Oracle Cloud platform services; the debut of the Oracle Analytics Cloud, the direct result of the acquisition of RightNow in 2011; a new version of the Exalytics In-Memory Database machine; and other new products and services. In all, Oracle made about 20 announcements.
New Products, Services Are Expected
However, all new-product announcements aren't necessarily news; companies are supposed to come out with new products.
Here are a few key facts about Oracle RightNow Analytics Cloud, perhaps the most important product news of the conference:
--This includes business intelligence as a service. Based on Oracle's own IP, Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service enables users to combine data from diverse sources—including cloud, on-premises, and third-party applications—to create interactive analytic applications.
--Oracle BI Cloud Service allows customers to deliver analytics to small groups, business departments, or the entire organization, with no capital costs.
--It allows users of all technical skill levels to create useful analytics applications by providing a platform that is quick to start, easy to adopt, mobile, and flexible.
--It can embed transactional analytics for line-of-business SaaS users into Oracle SaaS applications, providing reports and analysis in real time. Coverage includes Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud, Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud, and Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud.
Joins AWS, Azure, HP in Cloud Pricing Wars
Looking at the overall picture, Oracle now offers infrastructure, platform, and software as a service whereas it didn't see any of them as profitable business ideas five years ago. So it is, in fact, changing with the times, albeit much slower than most smaller and younger companies.
To its credit, Oracle also has become a participant in the current cloud pricing wars by revealing that it would match AWS's Database-as-a-Service pricing, dollar for dollar.
AWS famously has dropped its cloud service pricing 43 times since it went online in 2006. Does that mean it was way too high priced at the outset? Quite possibly, although the cloud was an unknown market in 2006, and who knew what to charge?
It's strange to see Oracle getting into the ring with a company like Amazon, which has a 10- to 12-year head start on the cloud. But it's happening.
"In the classic case of Innovator's Dilemma, Oracle must protect its highly profitable core business while trying to build a newer business in the cloud," industry analyst Ron Miller wrote in his Intronis blog. "They have to convince their sales teams, their engineering teams, and their marketing teams to alter the company DNA and change completely. It's not easy to do, and Oracle has struggled."
It remains to be seen how successful Oracle can be in this Brave New IT World. If the past is a guide, then the company will find a way to succeed.