Oracle president Mark Hurd outlined the company’s "holistic aggregate strategy" and positioned the company as a partner able to solve for both cost and innovation due to trends like big data.
Combined with, Oracle is repositioning the company to one focused on buzzwords like cloud and big data as well as being a best-of-breed vendor who happens to sell you a stack of hardware and software. The catch is that Oracle has to walk a line between being perceived as an innovation partner and selling tech execs a stack of stuff led by Oracle's 12c database and the latest Exadata system.
It's a line that all the big vendors---HP, IBM and Oracle---have to walk. Hurd's outlined Oracle's strategy in four pillars:
- A best of breed stack;
- Integrated systems;
- Industry specific applications;
- And cloud delivery.
The other wrinkle throughout those pillars is that customers can choice to run Oracle on-premise, in a private cloud, public cloud or some hybrid approach.
Hurd also outlined how Oracle can be a bit of all things to all people. There are applications, cloud offerings, engineered systems, better performance via Exadata, compression, in-memory technology and service.
The positioning twist for Oracle is notable. In recent years, Oracle would have been happy to roll out its latest Exadata, tout performance gains, bash a few competitors and call it a day. Oracle is going to a higher level now at least in terms of messaging. The general theme is that Oracle is aiming to solve your cloud and big data pain points.
Of course, the big question is whether CIOs, who are used to paying maintenance fees to Oracle for years, will buy Hurd's line that the company can offer superior total cost of ownership.
"We don't have a customer that I know of who doesn't simultaneously have an innovation agenda and an austerity agenda," said Hurd.
In a nutshell, Hurd captured how the CIO role today can really stink. On any given day, the CEO is telling the CIO he needs to solve for mobility, grow revenue and help the company market to customers. On the flip side, the CFO is cutting budgets 5 percent. "The only way around that is to build two agendas and attack them simultaneously."
Oracle's goal is to take its portfolio and align it to customers.
The move to position Oracle as a key partner who can sell you a stack, boost performance and cut your costs as you innovate has a few question marks. Here's a look at the key questions:
- Does the overall idea of a vertical stack---software, hardware, cloud and engineered systems---still work in an environment where APIs can create a stack as a service and give you vendor diversity?
- What are the numbers behind the TCO claims and are CIOs looking at that metric?
- Does vendor diversity matter to CIOs? And if so does Oracle's integrated stack messaging work against it?
- Will storage costs be a big data theme? Oracle spent a lot of time after Hurd spoke to cover Exadata's X3 system. The promise: Oracle can improve your storage cost and improve performance. "You can change the economic model for storage dramatically just through compression," said Hurd.
- Will CEOs and CFOs see the Exadata message through a business transformation message? The challenge here is that business leaders are questioning hardware and looking to the cloud.
- The bottom line is that Oracle is pitching customers and telling them that they can leverage the company's $5 billion spent on research and development. The tradeoff is vendor diversification. We'll know that tech execs are taking that trade-off once Oracle's hardware revenue starts growing again as a high-margin business.
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