Oracle president Mark Hurd. Image: CBR (c).
Oracle is now claiming it is the largest cloud provider on the planet. So when I met up with its president Mark Hurd recently, I asked what salesforce.com's CEO Marc Benioff would make of that claim. The reply? "I don't know, and I don't particularly care."
Strong words perhaps, but that's not surprising given the fact that Oracle says it has spent several years and "billions" of dollars investing in cloud, and reworking client-server applications for the cloud era.
Announcing its cloud strategy, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made a typically bullish statement of intent: "Almost seven years of relentless engineering and innovation plus key strategic acquisitions; an investment of billions: we are now announcing the most comprehensive cloud on the planet Earth," he said. "Most cloud vendors only have niche assets. They don't have platforms to extend. Oracle is the only vendor that offers a complete suite of modern, socially enabled applications, all based on a standards-based platform."
Oracle calls its Exadata and Exalogic Engineered Systems 'cloud in a box', so presumably includes sales of these in its calculation of its total cloud revenues.
It'll also be adding in revenues from acquisitions such as on-demand customer experience player Rightnow, which it bought for $1.5bn in October 2011. It bought cloudy human capital management firm Taleo for $1.9bn in February this year, and in May Vitrue, a cloud-based social network marketing type-o'-thing. It also claims to have customers running its database in the cloud, but as you can see from its main Oracle Cloud page, it's the acquired pieces that are front and centre.
Anyway, Mark Hurd doesn't care what Marc Benioff thinks, and furthermore is adamant that, "Our cloud revenue is materially bigger than their SaaS revenue."
The posturing between Oracle and salesforce.com is always slightly ironic, given that salesforce.com is a large Oracle customer - it runs its platform on the Oracle database - and Hurd knows it: "We have plenty of customers, including salesforce.com, using our products," Hurd said. "As I say, cloud is materially bigger than SaaS."
But while Hurd may not give a flying yellow rubber chicken for what Marc Benioff thinks, salesforce.com has a few words of their own to share about Oracle's cloud strategy.
Salesforce.com's EMEA chairman Steve Garnett reignited his firm's war of words with Oracle in May this year, telling CBR that Larry Ellison's cloud vision is nothing more than outsourcing, and that recent acquisitions show a lack of faith in its existing portfolio.
Garnett was speaking to CBR at salesforce.com's Cloudforce event in London, where he also suggested rivals such as Oracle and SAP will have to totally revamp their strategies if they want to continue to be successful in today's cloud-focused enterprise.
"It was only a few years ago Larry Ellison was calling cloud computing 'water vapour' and saying that Fusion was the solution to everything and then they go and buy RightNow and Taleo. That says a lot about their belief in Fusion. SAP said they had it all cracked and then they went out and bought SuccessFactors," he said.
"If Oracle is going heavy in cloud does that mean they're going to get rid of Fusion? I don't think so," Garnett added. "They spent five years building it. Are they going to throw it away? If it means they are going to say 'you can run our Fusion stuff in your cloud', that's not cloud computing; that's outsourcing."
Garnett told CBR that while there is no clear definition of cloud, some vendors are simply jumping on the bandwagon while not offering true cloud computing. He described it as, "Agile marketing by hardware and software vendors. A year or two ago most of them were anti cloud, then they realised the success that the likes of us were having and now they're all cloud computing companies."
"If you're buying hardware, it's not cloud computing. If you're buying software, it's not cloud computing. I don't understand all this hype about private clouds or someone saying 'I'll run your cloud for you'. That's outsourcing. We've had that for 30 years. To really get the advantages of cloud computing you have to run a multi-tenant architecture," he added.
In its latest quarter, salesforce.com announced revenue of $695m, up 38%. It did post a GAAP net loss of $22m, mind you. But it's raised its full year guidance to $3bn. What does Oracle make from cloud? We don't know, but more than $3bn, if Hurd has his sums right.
Related: Oracle, Ellison and Hurd - the dream team?
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