Enterprise computing IS the cloud

Summary: Cloud strategy is now indivisible from enterprise computing - can Oracle retain its vast customer base in this new era?

The Oracle occupation of downtown San Francisco buildings is over, but the sea and air invasion continues. After painting the town red with Open World conference events, the city's busiest events weekend (thanks to the fog free Indian summer we San Franciscans enjoy this time of year) includes lots of America's Cup yacht racing action on the bay.

The video clip above of the defending cup holder Oracle team capsizing but subsequently going on to win Saturday's event is a good analogy for how many enterprise software customers see all the big incumbent tech vendors in the race for future relevance. They're heavily invested in past technologies and watching the race for any errors and where the future high ground is.

The 'cloud' air war now effectively IS enterprise computing: any differentiation from the old networked on-premise data center world of vast extranets was rendered moot by Oracle's wholesale adoption of cloud rhetoric and perceived future client needs last week.

Like the yachting America's Cup which Team USA/ Oracle currently hold, the vast installed Oracle client base is Oracle's to lose. SAP may be the largest provider of discrete business applications but Oracle's customers are used to a soup to nuts relationship from bare metal up to business process, and based on my conversations with various random Oracle users last week they appear confident about their future with the Oracle juggernaut.

Where Oracle are vulnerable in a down economy is the relative lack of huge global companies left to supply: small and medium business have headroom to grow, typically at the expense of incumbents. Many of the success stories in the SMB sector have the rapidity of cloud strategy along with SaaS lower costs and agility to change at their heart. Larger companies are fostering small business units and encouraging start up style innovation outside of the mothership infrastructure as they look for growth opportunities.

The cultural identity problems for the large IT players - Microsoft, IBM, SAP and Oracle (MISO) - are massive: their DNA is rooted in the last century and try as they might to reinvent themselves, their rank and file integrators and users are set in their ways.

Fusion is a very sophisticated and solid - although complex- set of offerings and Oracle continue to do a terrific job rolling out their 21st century solutions...the 'but' is that the client user base is small and the vast majority of Oracle customers didn't appear particularly interested. The fact that the Fusion apps were all showcased in the smaller Moscone Conference West venue while the huge hall in the main conference center had two sets of showcase areas for everything else spoke volumes about where the business is today.

For fiscal Q1 ending Aug. 31, Oracle claims $222 million in cloud-based revenue. That's a fraction of$8.2 billiontotal sales but the first time Oracle has disclosed cloud revenue.Company President Mark Hurd stated Oracle's cloud business this quarter is at a $1 billion run rate.

Servicing yesteryears portals and existing plumbing is understandably why most attendees were in San Francisco, and tech conferences are just as much about existing users as showcasing what's next for them and impressing Wall Street analysts. The reality however is that no one knows what the future holds for big tech in a world of month by month Software as a Service subscriptions an business disruption at all levels. The big financial companies are experimenting with Google, Amazon and Facebook style massive datacenter design models - Goldman Sachs are experimenting with Facebook'sOpen Compute project for example, as alternatives to the proprietary world of Oracle.

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Enterprise computing IS the cloud

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