Eye on Oracle

May 28, 2013  5:00 PM

Server revenue down overall; Oracle server hardware loses share

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Gartner reported server revenue and shipment numbers today, and the numbers don’t look good for Oracle server hardware. Here’s a look at revenue, first off:

Oracle has dropped from the fourth spot last year to the fifth, behind Fujitsu, this year. Gartner reported that x86 server revenue was flat, while Unix servers dropped off a cliff 36% in revenue. Since Oracle is focusing on high-end Sparc Unix servers and appliances, it makes sense that its number suffered. And now for shipments:

As you can see, Oracle isn’t even on the chart. Again no surprise, since the company is de-emphasizing volume commodity servers. Any way you cut it, however, the numbers don’t look good for Oracle. At the company’s most recent quarterly earnings call, executives said it barely missed closing some deal in the last quarter. We’ll see if the numbers rebound, but generally they’ve been on a pace downward.

April 29, 2013  1:47 PM

The Oracle Fusion Applications subway map

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Created by the International Oracle User Council (IOUC). Hat tip to this Oracle blog for bringing it to our attention.

March 20, 2013  9:10 PM

Oracle reports down quarter all around

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

In past quarters, Oracle has had to explain why its hardware revenues continue to slide off a cliff. This quarter, however, revenues are down almost across the board.

Total revenue for the company was down about 1.5% compared to last quarter, and down about 1% compared to the same quarter last year. Even if you were to take hardware revenues off the ledger, the company’s revenue was still down compared to last quarter and only up 2% since last year.

Hardware revenue declines are sure to take up the bulk of the media reports. They are down about 8.5% just since last quarter, and down close to 23% compared to the same quarter last year. President Safra Catz said that in part had to do with Sparc customers waiting for new servers to come out before buying.

CEO Larry Ellison has repeatedly said that the company will see “growth in our hardware business” by the end of its fiscal year, which is the end of next quarter. (Edit: Ellison said during today’s earnings call that the big hardware turnaround would now happen in the second half of this calendar year…) Ellison may end up being right just because hardware revenues have hit such a long and extended valley. At some point you would think it has to level out and go up again. Its $1.24 billion in hardware systems and support is the lowest since the first quarter of 2010, which non-coincidentally is the same quarter that Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Here’s a quick line graph of Oracle hardware system and support revenues since it acquired Sun:

February 6, 2013  9:56 PM

Oracle vs. HP, part 2- or, why the corporate world still looks a lot like grade school

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

Regular readers of my blog will probably remember me comparing that whole Oracle vs. HP “thing” to a school-yard scuffle. Well, the kids are at it again- now, HP is wailing on Oracle, Oracle is yelling “mercy!” and no one cares, because, well, it feels good to see a bully get theirs.

At least, that’s my analogy of the situation. I’ll admit that I took some artistic license there.

Long story short, Oracle attempted last week to end its bitter trial against HP, hoping to appeal the case sooner rather than later and skip the little part of the trial where the judge decides how much and what exactly Oracle owes HP for basically trashing their reputation and attempting to steal their customers (as HP sees it, anyway- Oracle’s side of the story is that HP’s Itanium chips were simply an inferior product and they chose to forgo supporting them).  According to some sources, HP is seeking as much as $4 billion. Is this the Silicon Valley version of taking all the bully’s lunch money while the hall monitor holds them down?

Whether it is or not, the judge did not comment as to why they rejected Oracle’s petition to end the trial. As a result of this action, however, Oracle will have to wait until after the entire trial ends to appeal anything— and it’s likely they will appeal the multiple issues (compensation, guilt, and so on) all at once.

I hate to speculate (ok, that’s a lie, I love to speculate), but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if with all of Oracle’s recent legal battles, they’ve burned through a large amount of tolerance and sympathy that the US legal system might have for them. It will be interesting to see how the courts treat Oracle in any upcoming legal battles in the next few years.

January 30, 2013  9:30 PM

Oracle releasing a better way to track health and safety issues?

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I worked as a burger flipper at a regional fast food chain. While there, I found countless ways to injure myself, from getting splashed with hot oil to shutting my fingers in the cash register to a very dramatic fall I took slipping on ice cream that a coworker forgot to announce had dropped on the floor while my vision was blocked by a dozen cheeseburgers I was carrying, all of which went flying through the air as I landed flat on my back.

Being 19 and very naive at the time, I didn’t think much of reporting any of these incidents to the authorities, much less using my experiences to help the organization I worked for to track their health and safety issues. In fact, I don’t think they really cared. Some companies do care, however (or, at very least, want to cover their asses and avoid getting sued), which is why Oracle just introduced the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Integrated and Comprehensive Solution for Health and Safety Incident Management during its annual JD Edwards Summit, currently taking place in Broomfield, Colo.

The first major software company to offer this sort of tracking software, Oracle is touting this as a way for organizations to record and analyze health and safety incidents, with the aim of preventing them in the future. In an online video posted on YouTube, Louise Farner of JD Edwards explains that this tool can be used to track all sorts of variables.

“Our new solution provides a comprehensive way to track health and safety incidents of all kinds—not simply those of injured employees,” she said. “You can also track near misses and potential incidents. JD Edwards Health and Safety Incident Management provides for the entire process, from the initial reporting of an incident through reporting it to OSHA and analyzing it to gain valuable insight.”

Farner added that the software can track environmental incidents such as chemical spills, as well as track witnesses and equipment involved, among other things. A sister product, One View Reporting for Health and Safety Incident Management, gives additional information on each incident.

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Integrated and Comprehensive Solution for Health and Safety Incident Management allows whoever is in charge at the location of the incident to report it via tablet, and then immediately sends emails to “those that need to know” (I’m not sure what that means, but I’m betting HR is involved). It gives you a Google Maps view of where the incident took place, suggests that you indicate whether drug and alcohol testing has been involved and lets you track the projected cost of the incident. It also has a nifty safety scoreboard that displays the number of days since the last incident. Using Oracle BI capabilities, it also allows you to analyze what kinds of incidents are most prevalent.

This all sounds intriguing to me, and I’d be curious to know how well it works from any early adopters out there. If you’re using this product or thinking of adopting it, please let me know your thoughts– email me at lweiner@techtarget.com

January 25, 2013  4:17 PM

Upcoming Oracle Cloud news?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Just got this message yesterday:

Please join Oracle President Mark Hurd and Oracle Executive Vice President Thomas Kurian for an Oracle Update for the Media. The Conference call will provide a brief recap of Oracle’s business strategy and provide an update on Oracle Cloud.

The conference call is Monday afternoon. I’m not sure what the conference call will be about, but I have a couple guesses. Perhaps Oracle will be announcing more functionality with its Oracle Cloud, or maybe more modules will be generally available. Just as likely will be that Oracle will talk about its Eloqua acquisition and how it plans to absorb that company into the fold. Any other guesses?

January 16, 2013  3:30 PM

Big data scientist parses NFL play-by-play data on MySQL

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Just in time. The National Football League is holding its conference championship games this weekend, and Scott M. Sawyer has a lot of obscure data about how one team might win over another.

During the day, Sawyer is on staff at MIT’s computing and analytics group. His research areas include big data and parallel algorithms. But in his spare time lately, he’s been building a web app to parse NFL play-by-play data from 2002 to the present. The result? Some interesting findings:

  • Since 2002, running the ball on 4th-and-1 works 71% of the time. It only works 66% of the time if you include pass plays. Conclusion? Run it on 4th-and-1.
  • Since 2002, the New England Patriots have scored on 40% of drives when down one score with 5 minutes or less left in the game. League average: 34%.
  • The Baltimore Ravens, in their first match-up against the Denver Broncos, actually had more success against the pass than the run, an interesting statistic considering how Peyton Manning is quarterback of the Broncos.

What Sawyer did is, conceptually, fairly simple. He took NFL play-by-play data from 2002 to 2012, which had been compiled into comma-separated value (CSV) files by Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats. The files add up to hundreds of thousands of rows in an Excel spreadsheet. Each row represents a play in the NFL that season, and includes which team was on offense, which on defense, what quarter it was, how much time was left in the quarter, and field position. Then there is a cell for the play itself, like this: “(13:13) (Shotgun) 12-T.Brady pass deep left to 34-S.Vereen for 33 yards, TOUCHDOWN.”

Sawyer then described what he did with all those CSV files. He spent a few hours writing some Python code, and parsed each row. He filtered out non-offensive plays such as kicks and penalties, determined whether each play was a pass or run, and noted the yardage gained or lost. He then rated each play as a success or a failure. A play was successful if it resulted in a first down, scored a touchdown, or gained at least four yards on 1st or 2nd down.

Sawyer then put all of that data into a MySQL database.

“I don’t expect to make money on this project, but I don’t want it to cost a lot either,” he wrote to me in an email. “I use inexpensive shared hosting, and MySQL is the best choice for delivering stats to a lot of visitors with minimal CPU cycles.”

Sawyer added that MySQL is already installed and configured on his web host, and he is using extensive indexing and query caching to reduce the load on the web server.

Though the data was captured in CSV files, some might consider the cells to be big data in part because of the unstructured text descriptions of each play. Sawyer doesn’t believe it’s there yet. He said the total “text corpus” of plays is about 64MB, which is tiny. He reduced this to about 30MB after parsing the descriptions, but then that went up to 100MB after ingesting it into MySQL and using indexing.

That said, Sawyer is not done. He expects the data to get bigger as he brings in more sources – weather at the game, for example, or the results of analytics.

“If you really want to predict winners, you’re going to need a lot more information,” he wrote. “But we’re not talking terabytes and petabytes anytime soon.”

January 16, 2013  1:23 AM

Oracle issues quarterly security patch

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Oracle on Tuesday released its quarterly patch update. It includes 86 security fixes and runs the gamut of Oracle products, including database, middleware and applications.

All the fixes address security vulnerabilities that Oracle has rated from 0 to 10 on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System, or CVSS. The vulnerabilities in this patch with the highest score – that is, the highest severity – are for Oracle Database and MySQL. The most severe is for Oracle Database Mobile/Lite Server, previously known as just Oracle Database Lite. The risk is rated the highest it can be, at 10, and according to the patch update,”may be remotely exploitable without authentication, i.e., may be exploited over a network without the need for a username and password.”

Other high-severity vulnerabilities are for Oracle Database on Windows, and MySQL on Windows.

Here’s the breakdown of all the security fixes:

  • Eighteen for MySQL
  • Thirteen for Oracle Enterprise Manager
  • Twelve for PeopleSoft
  • Ten for Siebel
  • Nine for E-Business Suite
  • Eight for Sun products, seven of which are for Solaris
  • Seven for Fusion Middleware
  • Five for Oracle Database
  • One for JD Edwards
  • One for VirtualBox
  • One for Oracle Supply Chain Management

The next security patches due out this year are on April 16, July 16 and Oct. 15.

January 11, 2013  4:05 PM

New year, new releases from Oracle

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

I’ve sometimes wondered if companies, customers and developers feel like it’s New Years’ when looking at a new release of an old product. Here’s a chance to do everything all over again. Old edition glitchy? Bad user interface on it? Got a big wish-list from the end users? Here’s your chance to start over—not unlike New Years.

So, it’s not unfitting that Oracle released the latest versions of both Oracle Transportation Management and Oracle Global Trade Management so soon after the beginning of the new year, on Monday, Jan. 7. The new versions are designed to work with Oracle Fusion Applications, which will be a nice plus for everyone who uses Fusion or those in non-heterogeneous IT shops.  Some new features in this version of Oracle Transportation Management include carrier bid optimization and management, fleet management, BI enhancements and new dashboards.  Oracle is touting the major benefits of Oracle Transportation Management to be reduced transportation costs, increased customer service levels and improved environmental sustainability (how the heck an ERP system leads to greater environmental sustainability is beyond me, but um, sure, if they say so, I guess).

Oracle markets Oracle Global Trade Management as a first-of-its-kind supply chain management system. That sounds a little more revolutionary than it may be, but at least they aren’t suggesting it will reverse the aging process or cure cancer (or lead to greater environmental sustainability, for that matter).  This version introduces Oracle Customs Management, which is intended to help users “manage customs clearance screenings,” enhanced tariff visibility for duties and taxes and new license management features. Supposed benefits organizations adopting this product might expect include accelerated cash flow, streamlined processes due to automation, better visibility of trade data and most other benefits expected of supply chain management program adoption.

I’d be curious to know if any of our readers are using the newest releases of these two Oracle products. If so, what kind of experience are you having with them? Are they easier to use, less glitchy, more bloated? Have you actually found any indications that they really do lead to greater environmental sustainability? I want to hear about it! Either leave a comment on this blog, or send an email to Editor@SearchOracle.com

January 3, 2013  6:35 PM

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water…

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

Oracle’s gone and done it again. Just when small cloud-based firms think it’s safe to go in the water, Oracle does their best imitation of Jaws and gobbles them right up.

This time, the victim is Eloqua, a multi-national, formerly publically held cloud marketing and marketing automation firm. Eloqua enables users to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across different kinds of media and weigh the interest of different sales leads. All the usual talking heads seem to agree that Eloqua was a great catch for Oracle, as marketing is anticipated to take up a large part of the content management industry. Business intelligence is just part of marketing’s job nowadays. It’s going to be important, even for giants like Oracle, to have the best brains and best technology ready to go in the BI, social CRM and online marketing spaces. Also, online marketing being a growing field, it makes perfect sense for Oracle to start beefing up on that front right now. Additionally, Eloqua had a very impressive client list, including household names as Comcast, Johnson & Johnson and Harvard Business Publishing. It’s not like Oracle was hurting for clients or anything, but being able to cross sell to some of these folks almost certainly caused dreams of sugar plums to dance in Larry Ellison’s head. True, Eloqua’s expenditures have been higher than income over the past few years, but with Oracle’s capital, that will be so inconsequential, we can pretty much just forget about it.

The strongest motivator for Oracle, though? Oracle wants to be able to compete with (and beat) Salesforce.  Salesforce and Oracle compete directly in CRM and social sales, and Oracle knows that they must develop an edge in order to outmaneuver their rival. While their recent acquisitions gave them a pretty nice cloud portfolio, this addition rounds out their competitiveness in the growing field of online marketing. Well played, Oracle, well played.

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