Oracle Corp president Charles Phillips used the opening keynote at OracleWorld in San Francisco to reinforce the Oracle stack message, stressing the benefits of using a stack that has been engineered to work together over a multiple vendor construction, and its role in improving the enterprise application ownership experience.
We want to change the ownership experience completely, he said, addressing the ongoing issues of cost and complexity. We are trying to systematically reduce risk, systematically reduce cost, and improve the experience of owning software.
The message bears a striking similarity to one of PeopleSoft’s key initiative in the period before its unsuccessful fight against acquisition by Oracle. The difference is that where PeopleSoft could only address application issues, Oracle is able to incorporate middleware and database technologies as well as application level activity.
We want to redefine it [the ownership experience], said Phillips, adding that the only way to do that was to engineer the entire stack, to build an architecture that had these type of principles and supporting technologies designed in, and is what Oracle Fusion architecture is trying to achieve.
The aim is to build it in at the factory, he said, then it will be able to do things that cannot be done with a stack made up from varied middleware technologies. It is up to customers to decide whether the result creates enough value to offset using multiple vendors’ systems, he added.
A key OpenWorld message is that Oracle applications, both home-grown and acquired, will be able to leverage the Oracle technology stack and that by building application on the stack Oracle can address the poor ownership experience common with enterprise applications. They all improve each other. That is unique to Oracle, Phillips said.
Oracle has a tradition of building aspects of what is normally considered to be middleware technology into its database, and vice versa. And the company is demonstrably extending that approach to the application layer, indicating that the full benefits of the Oracle approach will only be achieved when the full stack is in place despite enabling alternative technologies to be used in place of Oracle’s own.
Middleware is critical to Fusion applications. You cannot understand the applications without understanding the middleware, said Phillips. Functionality important to the application layer such as security including identify management and role based security, system availability and tools to support compliance are being built into the middleware layer, to be accessed by the application as enterprise services.
Phillip also reiterated Oracle’s acquisition position. He stressed that the company buys best-of-breed and what we do right away is add value. That includes certified global support and quality assurances, integration teams to create integrations with other enterprise applications, and adding multi market capabilities like multiple currency and multiple language support. Due to their size, the acquired companies could not have been able to deliver these features alone, Phillips said.
Typically smaller software vendors spend a third of their R&D budget on middleware, he added, and usually it is not optimal. Oracle said it offers the ability for applications to leverage the complete Oracle stack.
For its part, Oracle said it gets best-of-breed, focused technology and expertise, and additional research and development to supplement its internal R&D efforts, as well as the technology to enable it to scale in vertical industry sectors.
We have never had true technology in [vertical] industries, Phillips said. It is unclear how it will play out but it does not matter because we can afford it and will continue to invest. The reason to continue to invest is to solve the biggest problem in enterprise applications … the enterprise software ownership experience. We know there is a big opportunity if we can solve it and we think we can.
On the question of how it can afford the acquisition and subsequent acquisition integration strategy Phillip said the secret is one word scalability. Once you reach a certain point you can add incremental value with little cost he said.
In practise this means Oracle runs its business on a single instance – even though it took four years to get there which eases the process of integrating acquisitions because they can be plugged into its existing back-office operation.
Using its own experience to illustrate the benefits of an engineered architecture Phillips pointed to Oracle’s use of a single core foundation using Oracle middleware and database supporting infrastructure. We are the only company that has that and is in the enterprise application business. We are unique, he said.
Although it is still playing the open-standards card, the company is becoming more overt about the potential benefits of taking a complete stack that has been engineered to work together and in doing so is emphasizing the major difference between itself and SAP on one side and IBM on the other.
Oracle still has to deliver on the applications side before it can prove its point, of course, but its story is gaining coherency and its technology stack is coming together, enabling it to gain mindshare against SAP.