Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco is the most important annual business and technology conference for Oracle customers, prospective customers, and partners. It offers thousands of educational sessions, hundreds of demos and hands-on labs and exhibitions from more than 450 partners and customers from around the world showcasing applications, middleware, database, server and storage systems, industries, management, cloud, and infrastructure solutions-all engineered for innovation. In 2014, there were 60,000 attendees (and more than 7 million online) from 145 countries. This supplement gives an outline of the major Oracle news announced at the event. Cloud was the main focus – read on to get detailed insights into the stories from the show.
NEW PERSPECTIVES ON CLOUD COMPUTING
Larry Ellison, Oracle’s co-founder and technology visionary, gave a capacity crowd plenty to get excited about at his opening keynote of Oracle OpenWorld 2014. 2014 marked “an inflection point” for Oracle, he told the standing-room only group of more than 11,000, “a turning point, really” in terms of the company’s delivery on its promise to innovate in every aspect of cloud computing.
Ellison, who recently stepped down as Oracle’s CEO to become Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer, began his session by alluding to Oracle’s decades-long commitment to allowing customers to update their applications to next-generation platforms without having to rewrite a single line of code. He closed by saying that ensuring the security of new and future cloud services will be “job one here at Oracle, and that’s the promise we make you for the next 30 years”.
In 2014, in particular, “we’ve been very, very busy”, Ellison said, pointing to three areas of cloud services where Oracle has expended considerable effort and investment.
In terms of cloud applications, or SaaS (Software as a Service), Oracle has “the largest portfolio of applications [in the cloud] of anybody”, Ellison said. He discussed the company’s work moving industrial-strength ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) applications to the cloud, claiming the technology high ground there. “We are the first mover in this space, and we are continually adding products,” he said.
Oracle has been catching up to rival Salesforce.com in sales cloud applications-despite its rival’s 15-year head start, he said. At the same time, Oracle’s human capital management suite, which incorporates “core HR”, or enterprise-level human resources capabilities, is an industry leader, Ellison said, in particular because “our HCM is tightly coupled with our social tools.” Throughout his speech Ellison drove home that point, that Oracle’s cloud offerings incorporate advanced capabilities, especially for social networking and mobile computing.
For example, when it comes to providing customers with a cloud-based application development environment-what’s known as platform as a service (PaaS)- Ellison was enthusiastic about his company’s progress in building up its platform. He pointed to multitenancy, high-speed analytics, and social and mobile capabilities that “endow apps with modernity”, which customers will make use of automatically when they employ the cloud service.
As expected, Oracle is making available its flagship Oracle Database 12c as a cloud service, which Ellison predicts will become the company’s most significant cloud offering. “Our ISVs have been waiting for this, our customers have been waiting for this,” he said.
The enterprise database as a cloud service means customers can migrate any of their Oracle applications and databases to its cloud “with the push of a button”, Ellison said. That, and “Not only does it get moved but it gets modernised”, he said.
Ellison also talked about a third area of enterprise cloud services, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which gives customers access to compute resources (including virtualisation) and data storage capacity over the Internet. Ellison said Oracle would make its IaaS as low-cost as any of its competitors. “Our job is to do [IaaS] with better security and better reliability at the same price,” Ellison said.
Ellison emphasised the extent of Oracle’s cloud infrastructure, which includes 30,000 computers and 400 petabytes of data supporting 62 million users a day. “Our cloud is bigger than people think, and it’s going to get a lot bigger,” Ellison predicted.
Q&A WITH MARK HURD, CEO, ORACLE
Mark Hurd, Oracle CEO, gave a comprehensive and wide-ranging briefing to journalists at Oracle OpenWorld, covering several important aspects of Oracle’s view of the Cloud.
How is Oracle changing the face of Cloud?
Mark Hurd (MH): “If we were concerned about that, we wouldn’t have the incredible speed of releases of new products in SaaS (software as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) that we do,” Hurd said. “We’re focused on going where the customers are going and where we think IT is headed.” Oracle generates considerable revenue with its on-premise apps, Hurd pointed out, and will continue to do so. Nonetheless, technology transformation cannot be denied. “We think that the growth for us in the future is [in] driving the cloud,” Hurd said.
Are large enterprises really moving to Software as a Service in the same way that smaller companies are?
(MH): “When it comes to technology transformation, big companies are in something of a bind, Hurd noted. Many depend on aging, highly customised applications that are difficult to swap out. “This is a big transformation for these big companies,” he said. “The problem is, they don’t have bigger budgets and they’ve got to go to standard capabilities. And that’s why you see them transforming, in many cases, one app and one process at a time. But make no mistake, they will transform, and when they do they will bring the whole market with them.”
Are businesses looking to Oracle to become their primary or even their only cloud service provider?
(MH): “n many cases, SaaS cloud providers are narrowly focused vertical suppliers. “But companies not only work vertically, they have to work horizontally,” Hurd said. So instead of a plethora of niche cloud providers, savvy companies are realising they need to “pick a couple of really key partners,” he said. “And we’re the only one today that comes with the breadth and depth of capability that can provide that kind of support.”
Oracle’s role in the Internet of Things:
(MH): “You’re going to see more and more things hooked to the Internet that are data driven but that aren’t driven by humans,” Hurd said. “And now the economics are such that people can look for these granular connections of data points to make better decisions faster.” Oracle offers capability at every level of the Internet of Things- the embedded-device level, with Java, and at the analytics level, with its Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, and everywhere in between. “We can help automate from the point of contact all the way through the control and analysis of that data, and [in] different decisions being made as a result of that data,” Hurd said.
To what extent do customers need to move workloads back and forth between the cloud and on premises, as enabled by Oracle Cloud platform?
(MH): “Building applications involves several stages, at least one of which- development and testing- lends itself to the cloud, while the actual production environment may or may not be in the cloud. “It’s very likely that you may still have that production capability on-premise, and for compelling reasons,” Hurd said, including regulatory issues and data privacy. “The ability now to build and move those applications across dev test and across production is going to be very cool.”
On Oracle’s expanding Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings:
Oracle is providing low-cost compute resources and storage capacity as part of its “complete cloud” strategy. “Our view is to allow our customers to scale compute, to scale storage, within the context of our platform and our SaaS capability,” Hurd said. And because Oracle will make it easy to employ those resources, customers will take advantage. “I don’t think they’re going to want to build out an application, get Java, and get Oracle, and then go to Amazon for some compute and storage. Some may, and if they do, that’s great. But we want to make it easy for them- that’s why we’re