Oracle Openworld just finished in San Francisco - and it was the event it promised to be - not big, but mega - in all aspects - size, attendees, number of sessions, steps walked between meetings (I even walked myself some blisters...), number of press releases etc. But let's look at the good and the bad.

Oracle's vision has been formulated and commented on many times - it is to create an integrated stack from low level storage services - even tape - all the way up to complex advanced analytical applications. In between the company already offers everything an enterprise may desire for any automation need.

It is Oracle's believe that by designing and building all these software layers in combination with its own hardware - it will be able to achieve better price performance than any of the (less well integrated) competitors. And this is very well compatible with the core corporate DNA of Oracle - of reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) through its products and services.

Top 3 Positive Signs

The unveiling of Oracle's in  memory plans is a key stepping stone to get Oracle's strategy going. And it's less the features and capabilities of in memory - that by itself are nice and compelling - but the nature of the delivery - that is non invasive, I called it organic in my first take here. For Oracle's vision to materialize both on the drawing boards of its engineers, its production code and the customer adoption - it matters greatly, that the upgrade to the latest version of key products like the database are not invasive, do not require additional coding beyond the task of upgrading. This will accelerate adoption.

The next one is, that Oracle seems to have understood that it needs to maintain its technology provider role - even in the cloud age. And while that self understanding peeked through e.g. with the Microsoft and partnership agreements and announcements from June of this year - it was visible also in the keynotes of Thomas Kurian and Larry Ellison (the one that Kurian held for him). If Oracle manages to get a relevant piece of the license revenue from the cloud infrastructure providers trough any of the dozen or so XX as a service products - it will be positioned well for the future where it can play in the public cloud, it's own public cloud and on premise.

Finally we also had the chance to speak to a number of Fusion HCM Cloud customers - either implementing or being live running on Fusion. The sheer number, their experience and commitment were  more positive than what we had expected based on the previously general available information and sentiment in the marketplace. It's important for Oracle to see traction of its top of the stack products, the Fusion applications, especially in an embattled marketplace like HCM.

Top 3 remaining concerns

We have blogged before on how the BigData trend has the potential to disrupt Oracle. If the growing number of BigData players manage to move close enough to real time and support of transactional processes, they form a threat to Oracle's core and bread and butter - the database. And while Oracle has made a lot of progress with its BigData appliance - the BigData threat is potentially less of a technological threat but a commercial threat, being mostly open source based.

Which leads us to the second concern, centered around open source. Oracle is setup to extract significant amounts of payments from its customers. Needless to state the company provides value to its customers, but Oracle has mastered the art of price differentiation - never (or seldom) charging too match to stymie the uptake of new technology but equally avoiding any association with being a cheap offering. And while that is a fair strategy and probably the core to it fueling a massive R&D budget - it  makes Oracle vulnerable to low cost or even free open source competitors.

And lastly - Oracle is building a massive technology stack - probably the most extensive one ever build. We know IBM did the same, but we dare to say in a less complex and dynamic age. The sheer magnitude of engineers involved, interfaces, testing, documentation, training etc could make an endeavor like Fusion fail. Providing non disruptive path to get to Fusion is a key aspect - but that's not always possible for technical reasons or for decisions taken in the past. Ironically the sheer magnitude of the effort both labor wise and financially, is also a barrier to entry for most competitors and specifically for open source based products and their communities, that simply do not have the resources.


It is difficult to distill an event like OpenWorld into a short blog post (but writing double the amunt would not have made it easier). Clearly Oracle is on a roll and at this point the positive signs prevail over the warning signs... but given the complex and dynamic environment Oracle competes in - that can change any day.

In the  next quarters the company will have to sort out its hardware business and create customer success around its Fusion Applications. Nothing validates a technology stack  more than the products sitting on the very top of it.