The Oracle enigma

It has been quite a month for cloud computing. NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson announced their “thirteenth consecutive quarter of more than 30 percent year-over-year revenue growth.” Amazon Web Services announced 78% revenue growth increase year over year. Microsoft reported 18 million Office 365 subscribers and healthy Azure growth. One of the only good bit of news to come out of SAP TechEd this week was that its BYD cloud offering, which has become a bit of a stepchild as SAP fawns over its acquisitions and HANA, is healthy.

Contrast all that to IBM’s 14th straight quarter of year-to-year revenue declines.

So, in the run up to Oracle OpenWorld this week, I would have expected to hear all kinds of as-a-service announcements and press. Instead, Oracle has let its accountants and attorneys dominate the airwaves with on-premise stories.

I sat in court during the recent Rimini trial thinking this cannot be good  for Oracle’s cloud positioning. Why is Oracle letting its attorneys talk, on public record, about IT practices from a long forgotten era when it should be talking about containers and multi-tenancy? I can only imagine the laughter in the halls of Salesforce and Workday when they heard Oracle executives brag on the stand they never lose customers. I can see Oracle customers cringe when they read how its attorneys talked condescendingly about customers who dared use their right to look at choices. Oracle seems to have forgotten these are still its customers. In SAP Nation, I profiled customers who have moved to Rimini and who continue to say nice things about SAP products. Some even talk about using the savings to buy newer SAP offerings. Ditto with Oracle customers. Bizarre as it may sound to Oracle executives, Rimini is actually keeping these customers “in the fold”. Subtlety, not hostility, to these customers will pay off much better.

The jury awarded Oracle a nominal judgment which likely is for less than it has paid in legal fees. Instead of letting the story die, Oracle continues to pursue legal action and harp about “massive theft”.

I don’t get it. At its Cloud Summit earlier this year, Oracle showcased the broadest range of SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and DaaS products in the industry. It told Fortune earlier this year, “on average on a daily basis, 62 million people log in and use our cloud for various things.” They have so much positive to talk about.

In the meantime, not a day passes by where I do not hear about a SAP or Oracle customer who is been threatened with a “compliance” review aka audit. The growing consensus is both vendors may say all the right things about the cloud but they are clinging to their on-premise past. Except that they dread an IBM-like string of quarters.

There are many Oracle haters out there. I have never understood them. Over 20+ years I have come to meet a large number of its employees. Most are smart, likable people. Oracle, to me, is a very talented football team which just cannot seem to avoid stupid penalties and turnovers.

I am looking forward to hearing much more about various aspects of the Oracle cloud this week, and tuning out all the details of its self-inflicted wounds.

(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)

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