Ellison hawks Oracle's cloud stack, calls out Salesforce.com

Oracle offers customers an integrated, more modern architecture than the competition, Ellison says

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made a vigorous sales pitch on Tuesday for his company's next-generation Fusion Applications and underlying technology platform, saying they constitute a more modern approach to cloud-based software than offerings from rivals like Salesforce.com.

While Ellison didn't provide much news during his talk at OpenWorld in San Francisco, his remarks served to crystallize Oracle's market message for SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a service).

Ellison began with a boastful claim to Oracle's place in industry.

"Oracle has more SaaS applications than any other vendor," covering sales, human resources, ERP (enterprise resource planning) and more, he said. "Everything you need, top to bottom, to run your enterprise in the cloud."

He noted that "every time you acquire a SaaS application you also acquire the underlying technology."

He went on to describe Oracle's platform, which includes Oracle's database, application server, OS, servers and storage. "It all comes together. It all has to be there for the cloud to work."

Ellison gave an update on the progress of Fusion Applications, which became generally available last year. Some 400 customers are licensing the software, with about 100 having gone live.

Out of those, about 40 percent are using Fusion CRM (customer relationship management) and another roughly 40 percent are running HCM (human capital management), according to a slide shown during Ellison's presentation. The rest are running Fusion ERP modules.

Two-thirds overall are deploying Fusion in Oracle's cloud, Ellison added.

Many customers who now prefer to run applications either on-premises or via dedicated hosting are going to adopt Oracle's Private Cloud, another offering announced this week that essentially duplicates Oracle's public cloud behind a customer's firewall.

But in any event, "you can make one decision and change your mind" since Fusion Applications can be moved between deployment models without changes, Ellison said.

"We're the only one who gives you a choice of deployment," Ellison said, noting that Salesforce.com customers don't have the option to move its cloud applications into their own data center.

Customers could do initial testing on the Oracle public cloud and then do a production deployment on a private cloud, he added.

While some may see Oracle's full-stack approach to the cloud as the ultimate vendor lock-in, Ellison said all of Oracle's technology is based on open standards such as Java and Linux.

"Standards are still important," he said. "Just because we're in the cloud we don't forget everything we've learned over the past 20 years of computing."

He also sought to dispel any notion that cloud services amount to magic for customers.

"Just because the application is in the cloud doesn't mean you don't have to do any work," he said. "You're still going to have to interconnect these applications. Therefore we provide a platform to do it."

While Fusion Applications' SOA (service-oriented architecture) makes it easier for customers to make these connections, there's more to it than flipping a switch, he said. "Otherwise Deloitte wouldn't have a big cloud practice. Accenture wouldn't have a big cloud practice. They must be doing something."

Ellison repeated statements he made earlier in the week regarding a new multitenancy feature in Oracle's upcoming 12c database. The feature will allow a number of "pluggable" databases to reside in a container.

This approach is superior to the form of multitenancy used by most SaaS vendors, according to Ellison.

"We think you should not commingle two customers' data in the same database," he said. "You can still share hardware, have shared resources and operate efficiently. We just don't think you should write an application with multitenancy at the application layer."

NetSuite and Salesforce.com pioneered cloud software, being formed in the late 1990s, but "that was a while ago," Ellison said. "They built multitenacy into the application layer because they had no choice."

Fusion, in contrast, is "extremely modern," Ellison said.

Ellison wrapped up his speech with a discussion of Oracle's Social Relationship Management product family.

"There's a lot more data out there than there used to be, and all that data properly processed will give you business insights about your customers, business insights about your products," he said.

Ellison described how Oracle's social technologies could detect customer discontent or confusion on a social network and then help companies quickly respond to specific customers. To improve its hand in this area, Oracle has made a number of acquisitions, including Collective Intellect and Involver.

In a demonstration, Ellison showed how a marketing manager for Lexus could use a group of Oracle technologies to plow through nearly 5 billion Twitter messages and determine which Olympic athlete would be the best person to represent the automaker in a campaign, based on audience interest.

OpenWorld continues through Thursday in San Francisco.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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