SAN FRANCISCO---Once again taking over downtown San Francisco this week, newly-minted Oracle chief technology officer Larry Ellison opened the annual Oracle OpenWorld expo on Sunday.
As many analysts expected leading up to this weekend, Oracle put its cloud business into the spotlight first.
Ellison commenced by describing 2014 as a turning point for Oracle -- most especially its cloud business. He admitted that it "dawned on" him and the rest of Oracle a few years back that the hardware giant would need to deliver all three layers of cloud services.
"We had no choice. We had to deliver SaaS, PaaS and Infrastructure-as-a-Service together because of a promise we made to our customers 30 years ago," Ellison insisted.
At the SaaS layer, Ellison asserted Oracle has the largest portfolio in the industry, many of which were either developed in-house this year or brought in through acquisitions.
He further boasted that Oracle is the "only high-end level competitor to Salesforce.com," admitting they're "fighting it out" on various service applications.
"Salesforce.com is very good at helping you keep track of opportunities," Ellison remarked, touting that the difference with Oracle is that its service and marketing clouds "help engineer sales campaigns and provide reference databases and all the tools your salespeople need to go out and pursue new opportunties."
With that in mind, Oracle previously launched Field Services, comprised of 113 SaaS products with 14 new service cloud applications. Another new area for Oracle's cloud touches upon social campaigns and listening through its recently-launched Data-as-a-Service layer, consisting of 49 SaaS and DaaS products for the time being -- 36 of which are new this year.
Ellison preceded to list off dozens upon dozens of new cloud apps that have been trotted out in the last year, adding that the company has added more than 2,000 new SaaS customers in the last year as well.
"We are selling more core HCM than anybody. We are, for the first time, competing successfully with incumbent, Salesforce.com," Ellison said.
But the big changes unveiled at OpenWorld on Sunday are coming in where Oracle is most well-known: the database level.
Ellison outlined the evolution to this installment as the "fourth generation" of computing, framed around multi-tenant database cloud services.
In a nutshell, Oracle is promising that with the Oracle Cloud platform upgrade, customers can move databases and cloud apps to Oracle's cloud without a single click of a button and not having to change "a single line of code."
"Not only does it move but it gets modernized, and that's a big deal," Ellison affirmed. "You can move any database application to our Infrastructure-as-a-Service."
The upgraded Oracle Database Platform-as-a-Service, grounded in Java and WebLogic, offers identical capabilities as the Oracle Database on-premise, meaning customers get their own OS and VM instances with capacity and compute on-demand.
Automation is a big selling point as well. The Database PaaS includes automated backup, recovery, patching, monitoring, and more.
Promising more details during his second keynote this Tuesday, Ellison noted customers also have the ability to move anything back or "someplace else."
Lamenting that "backup appliances are not designed for databases," Ellison also introduced the Zero Data Loss Recovery Applicance.
Acknowledging the clunky name and even bellowing "I named it before these two guys got promoted" in reference to new co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, Ellison briefly described that this automated system's name is self-explanatory.
Other updates in-store for the Oracle portfolio include improvements to the Exadata in-memory platform, including performance improvements for query acceleration engines at the silicon level for Oracle Database 12c. Putting the whole thing on silicon, Ellison said it should make these processes 10 times faster.
Answering preemptively as to why Oracle is doing these things now and not back in 2012 when it first unveiled its cloud platform, Ellison shrugged, "It's hard."
That still didn't stop Ellison from taking a few jabs at competitors. Moving on from Salesforce.com (and even its "first customer", the CIA), Ellison asserted Oracle databases power every cloud on the planet -- "except Workday," he quipped -- particularly skewering SAP's cloud foundations.
Looking forward, Ellison projected that that database will become Oracle's biggest cloud business.