Mark Hurd, co-CEO Oracle took to the Oracle Open World 2015 stage for this morning's keynote, dressed for battle and ready to take on all-comers. Predicting a fabulous future --- if you are Oracle, Hurd said that by 2025:
- 80% of production apps will be in the cloud
- Two suite providers will have 80% of the market
- 100% of new dev/test will be cloud
- Virtually all enterprise data will be stored in clouds
- Enterprise clouds will be the most secure IT environments.
At first glance, these predictions sound eminently reasonable except for one thing. Ten years is a lifetime in technology. We have no idea what will happen in the next two-three years, let alone ten years out.
The suite play sounds solid, a theme which is echoing across the halls at OpenWorld but it is one where Oracle is playing catchup. Workday, NetSuite and before it, SAP have all made the same claims. But I question whether that is ever a reality except in the SMB market where the idea of cobbling best in class applications makes little sense.
During the post keynote Q&A, Hurd was adamant. In reference to a recent event where he heard a speaker talk about the reality of companies using '150' cloud applications, he said:
You’re out of your mind - you don’t want to take your on-premises complexity and put it on the cloud.
Sorry but that's already happened to some extent. The most common back office landscape we see today comprises SAP (on-premises financials, manufacturing and possibly cloud HCM), Workday (HCM) and Salesforce (CRM.) Others noticed that Hurd avoided the question of what happens in those large enterprises:
— Tom (@navanman) October 26, 2015
In the Q&A, Hurd's response was enigmatic if disjointed:
Those existing on-prem customers will move at their own pace. If we didn’t announce we’re going to feature string apps like HCM then - here's an example. One of the neatest releases has been PeopleSoft 9.2. In some cases it [new releases] keep them on premise. We want to move them at their pace.
Hurd knows as well as any tech vendor executive that the moment you open the door to a technology shift, that same door opens for competitors. Buyers then move into feature/function comparison mode. Unless Oracle is super confident it has the full stack then there is the risk that otherwise loyal customers will walk. I would have been much more impressed if Hurd had talked more loudly to the end-to-end customer experience story which is unfolding in the new product announcements. To wit, Oracle has announced a slew of important new cloud applications that include: Planning central Manufacturing Order management enhancements Procurement Project portfolio management Learning Visual analyzer (a direct competitor to Tableau) We are told there will be further announcements to the customer experience and we've already seen what looks like a much improved UI.
Does that combination make for a compelling offering at the high end of the enterprise where the big money is made? The market will decide but Hurd is already declaring victory in all three major cloud segments: IaaS (infrastructure), PaaS (platform) and SaaS (applications.)
That's one heck of a stretch, and we haven't got to the hardware piece, where Oracle has already failed to convince.
Amazon is so far ahead of the rest of the field, and Microsoft Azure is coming fast in IaaS. As far as I am aware, there are precious few resources for developers on cloud PaaS, while the SaaS apps are mostly making ground in the mid-market and not among the top end customers. More to the point, history does not favor an approach that tries to pick off every piece of the available pie. In that sense, Oracle is acting defensively but potentially spreading itself awful thin.
Disclosure: Oracle is a premier partner at time of writing and covered most of my travel expenses for attending OpenWorld.