Oracle Open World 2011 – Initial Thoughts

I did not attend Oracle Open World this year, but don’t let that stop you from reading this.

I have been tracking Oracle for a long time, read most of what has been published about the show, belong to sufficient related communities and know many people who were there that I can form a very educated initial thought as to what happened.

I will leave the mommy-and-daddy-are-getting-a-divorce fight between Larry and Marc aside, as the nice circus act it was; I am not an entertainment reporter and have no interest in it, nor do I see conspiracies or meanings beyond what it was: business.  Kudos to both for making the most of it, but has no consequences or meaning beyond the circus it was.

Back to Oracle Open World – I hope you don’t expect too much analysis right now.  There was so much announced and shown that it will take a few weeks to process it.  Same as with Salesforce, which I am just about done with the analysis of the announcements and their position.  It is easy to repeat what was said, but takes time to process, to follow-up with the right people to understand it better and to generate valid opinions.  That will come, with time, as it will for Dreamforce. To me, it is not about who is first but who adds value.  I’d like to be in the second group.

Let me summarize the announcements and first reactions. Four things I got from this show:

  1. Hardware is the way for the future of Oracle (together with software, of course).  Lots of emphasis on hardware and appliances, something I somewhat get excited about (I am a geek after all) and the specs do make my mouth water.  I don’t agree that the solution to the world’s data  and analytics problems  are solved by throwing “bigger iron” at it.  We solve data problems by being smarter, not by sheer brunt.  While I like the hardware specs, I think there is too  much emphasis on it — on all sides.  By contrast, I spent some time at Teradata Partners this week as well, and it was more about the smarts of the software than the hardware underneath – and that sounded so much better to me, closer to reality for the large majority of the market.
  2. Fusion Apps are ready to go.  There are some 100 modules announced as GA at the show, including CRM.  Good grief it took far longer than most ever thought.  I remember forecasting at most 4-5 years for first version back in the days of the acquisition of PeopleSoft, but could not foresee at that time it would take this long.  Six+ years later, the framework and the basic modules are ready. Initial review are not the kindest, but having the framework ready is more important, IMO, than first-generation applications.  I will spend more time diving through the framework, but if it delivers as expected, it will be very interesting to see how it gets combined with the Cloud and Social Network and deployed.
  3. Oracle Public Cloud was announced.  Lots of buzz and cool words thrown around including multi-tenancy, elasticity, True Cloud, and many more.  This is the one that will take longer to figure out as it was sneaked-in (few people knew before hand what was actually being done) and it is mostly on paper right now (according to my sources, “sometime next year” is the release date. Unfortunately, that sounds a lot like “fifty percent done”).  I am glad to see a good story being told by Oracle  .  If you have questions between now and then about what is being said, feel free to contact me.  This is the one that is going to take the longest, and curiously – not the one that offers the most hope for Oracle in my view (that’d be Fusion for now).
  4. Oracle Social Network was also announced.  There is so little to say about this, that the demo was a video instead of the product.  A few people I respect saw it, and the verdict is — not quite ready for primetime.  Also available next year – sometime.  I am glad that Oracle decided to move forward with a lot of the early work they did around Social (they were one of the first companies to put a beachhead in that world, but sadly not much more since then).  I just want to deep dive on this one.  If the promise of social being part of PaaS comes to be, it could be a major coup for them in the Enterprise Software world (especially if they later couple it with Fusion).

I am quite excited for Fusion (for their customer base and their core market) and encouraged that they are finally putting an ante on Cloud and Social – but would not expect too much in either (not their core product).  I think this show was a bullseye for where Oracle is and is aiming to be in the market.

The silly competition with SAP and Salesforce is not as relevant as the battle of the egos would lead us to believe.  Look at the core revenue sources for each of them to understand that the show is not much more than that.  Any vendor that has sufficient smarts to stay relevant knows that they need to focus on their core, unique market that brings in that 60-70% of revenues (and probably larger percentage of the profits) as well as try to carve new markets from the remaining, competitive,  30-40%.  We tend to focus too much on that smaller part of the market where we should analyze vendors’ performance in that larger swath — which is obviously not as glamorous or interesting.

But I digress.

There is so much more work to do understanding and diving behind the announcements and getting those two market swaths to a better light. I Would not want to simply repeat what was said.  Look for some interesting analysis to start coming out next week but not from me yet — it will take me a few more weeks (including a visit to Redwood Shores I was promised).

Thanks for reading.

The Social Wars Trilogy

I must admit I am not very good at giving credit where Twitter is due.

I click on links from my many Tweetdeck columns simply to open articles or blogs and never remember who recommended it in the first place.  For that, and for not knowing who pointed me to this trilogy, my apologies to all who feel slighted – just my foolish manners of work.

Having said that, thanks much to whoever pointed me to this trilogy.  In a three-parts series, Mr. Venkatesh Rao offers a very interesting view of the changing world of Enterprise Software and how we should adapt to the new way of working.  I wanted to highlight it here so it would not be lost in the myriad of tabs you all have open in your browser.

Below are the three links, enjoy.