SAN FRANCISCO -- While Oracle CEO Larry Ellison spent most of his keynote speech on Wednesday ranting about the problems he has with Salesforce.com, somewhere in there was an announcement about Oracle's new Public Cloud.
Starting with the Fusion Applications, this is touted as a "complete suite" of more than 100 modules, centered around financial management, human capital management, supply chain management, project portfolio management, procurement, customer relationship management, as well as governance, risk, and compliance.
All Fusion Applications have been designed to work on "popular" mobile web browsers, and Ellison cited specifically the iPad and iPhone. Android was curiously left out of that announcement -- at least during the keynote.
That's probably because Java (which is the source of a major legal rift between Oracle and Google right now), is the core strength of Oracle's cloud strategy. Oracle is arguing that its cloud infrastructure is better than the competition (primarily Salesforce.com) because the applications and the cloud are standards-based, meaning they are written in languages such as Java, SQL, XML, Web Services, etc., so these should all be easily transferable (in theory) to Amazon's cloud and others.
Another point that received more attention at Thursday's session was the Infrastructure-as-a-Service element, which is an area that gets less attention for Oracle, but it's still key to the overall value of the cloud stack.
Oracle recommended at least two operating systems here, starting with Oracle Linux, which has been designed for clustered environments with a low cost of deployment. The alternative is Oracle Solaris 11, which reps called "the only OS out there today" capable of handling hundreds of terabytes of memory and huge amounts of I/O with 10 times faster provisioning.
Ellison and other Oracle executives were even more technical in explaining this product during the sparsely-populated Public Cloud keynote on Thursday morning (right after Oracle's extravagant celebration the night before on San Francisco's Treasure Island) . To make it simpler, this cloud is made up of two stacks:
Fusion CRM, HCM and Talent, along with the social network
Database, Hava, data and security services
All of this should run on both Exadata and Exalogic, and Oracle execs repeatedly drummed in that these systems are elastic and scale very easily.
"There's no disruption when you move to the cloud," asserted Amit Zavery, vice president of cloud strategy at Oracle.
Oracle promises a "simple pricing model," which is based upon a monthly subscription with multiple tiers for growth options. There's also a 30-day trial period for all services.
Somewhere in all of this is also the new dryly-named Oracle Social Network. The name in a nutshell is the problem with Oracle and even Oracle OpenWorld this week. It was just plain dry. Although he was in the midst of really just promoting his own company and Silicon Valley bickering, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff nailed this point when he said that Oracle OpenWorld, “has mostly been about a next-generation, mainframe computer.”
But back to the nitty-gritty of the Oracle Social Network. Ellison and company posit that this platform is unique because Oracle has integrated business intelligence into the applications more than anyone else.
The user interface looks like it was designed five years ago, but it does have all the standard enterprise elements that it needs to get started so that users can interact with both co-workers and customers.
The selling point is that the Oracle Social Network is enriched with third-party CRM and HCM content. So that could consist of customer data (customer's own accounts, contacts, leads, etc.), trusted data sources, crowd-sourced data (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Spoke), demographic data, and highly-qualified leads delivered through the cloud.
But overall, Oracle just isn't selling either the cloud or the social network it has designed in a way that will get customers or analysts excited. That isn't to say that these solutions aren't great, and Oracle has definitely delivered a well-rounded package.
It's one thing to toss out tons of specifications and all that mumbo-jumbo, but it hasn't been able to advertise these products in a way that the competition (especially Salesforce.com) has by explaining what beneficial end results these solutions can produce.