During his Oracle Openworld keynote, Larry Ellison outlined his major initiatives for the next 24 months. As I wrote earlier in the week, Oracle is becoming more stateman-like, talking about giving user choice, lifetime support (for a price as yet undetermined) and being a model open standards citizen.
It shows that Ellison and team aren't living in a reality distortion field. The consolidated business they have forged by rolling up ten companies in nine months-- and taking on responsibility for thousands of new, and potentially hostile, users--requires a different mindset and more than superficial attempts at diplomacy.
Ellison the conquerer and sometimes bawdy sailor has turned into Ellison the statesman. He told the throng at Oracle Openword, "We would love for you to pick our components and database, but we have to compete on reliability, performance and security," Ellison said. He said that Oracle will certify non-Oracle databases (DB2 for I-Flex and Retek applications), but said the company needed more time to decide whether Fusion applications would support non-Oracle databases. " The issue going forward is portability or a little extra performance and security," Ellison said. "We'll make a decision after a long careful process. It's a toss of the coin right now." He also said that Oracle has no interest in coercing customers to move to Oracle's applications. "We want to make it easy to move to Fusion, as an attractive destination, but we don't want to make it difficult [for customers] to stay with the applications they are comfortable and happy using."
Ellison also promised to redouble efforts in the on demand area, and offer a complete range of hosted and on premises applications, depending on what customers want. He was asked about Siebel On Demand, which runs on on IBM's infrastructure and DB2. "If customers want multiple database support, we certainly will with Siebel On Demand Fusion updates," he answered.
In the Q&A period he was asked about competitors, and was quick to point out that Oracle has lots of competitors, including Microsoft, SAP, salesforce.com,NetSuite (which he basically owns), and Infosys. Ellison also gave some knocks to SAP's NetWeaver, claiming it has almost no marketshare in the Java middleware market compared to Oracle middleware. SAP is versions behind Oracle Fusion in supporting SOA, Web services standards, he added.
Ellison also talked about moving away from per-processor pricing to per-employee or revenue-based pricing. "As you get bigger or smaller, give us more or less. This licensing model works better for most people than what we currently have."
If Ellison and Oracle can actually deliver on the goals set out for being most open in an open standards world and giving customers what they want, when they want it, the company will set the standard for others to follow...