Oracle's quarter was dominated by talk about Exadata and hardware, but there were a few signs that CEO Larry Ellison was preparing to position his Fusion applications as an alternative to on-demand rivals such as Salesforce.com and Workday.
Now Oracle's definition of the cloud differs from the software as a service competition. Ellison talks in terms of both public and private clouds. Oracle's Cloud Office effort lacks a public version.
This cloud debate---best illustrated by the ongoing banter between Ellison and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff---is likely to intensify. The SaaS guys will talk about the real cloud. Ellison will talk servers as being the cloud.
Where will Oracle's Fusion apps fit in? Fusion apps, which arrive early in 2011, will be positioned as both cloud and on-premise apps. By offering both, Ellison is hoping to outflank SaaS rivals.
Here's what Ellison said:
Next calendar year, we're going to be talking a lot about Fusion how we've got this new generation of applications by the way that runs on premise and in the cloud, in the public cloud, as well as private clouds on premise, public clouds. Nobody has this. I mean, SAP Business ByDesign runs just in the cloud. SAP's traditional applications run just on premise. Fusion runs both places. You decide where you want to put this. You can't do that with Salesforce.com. You can't do that with Workday. A lot of these guys. So we've got this brand-new, extremely modern java based suite of applications called fusion that runs in the cloud, runs on premise. It's going to dramatically strengthen other position against our cloud based competitors like Salesforce and Workday and our traditional competitor, SAP. So we think you're just seeing the beginning of us gaining share in applications. That's going to really take off next year.
The big question is whether customers will see the on-premise and cloud deployment options as a big win. If they do, Oracle will have Fusion well positioned. But there are so many details missing regarding code bases, business models and whether Oracle will really cannibalize its on-premise versions. In the meantime, we're awaiting details on how cloud and on-premise Fusion apps will work together and hosting specifics.