Eye on Oracle

May 15, 2008  3:50 PM

Has Oracle misled us about 11g?

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

Is Oracle 11g not yet as successful as we may have been led to believe?

According to Pythian Group CEO Paul Vallee, the answer is yes. Vallee claims his research shows that Oracle 11g is being adopted at slower rates than earlier Oracle databases – and Oracle Corp. will neither comment nor provide numbers showing otherwise.

Pythian Group is an enterprise database management service that manages 718 production databases for 56 Oracle customers. Vallee says that only 3 out of the 718 databases are running 11g (which was released last July).

As I wrote last month, IDC reported that Oracle has increased its database market share. IDC analyst Carl Olofson said Oracle told him that 10% of users expressed intent to upgrade to 11g. According to Olofson, “that would be an unusually high adoption rate for the first year.”

In the Network World article, Vallee says that, based on his numbers from Pythian, “he can say with 95% confidence that no more than 3.66% of Oracle databases are running 11g. With 50% confidence, he says it’s unlikely that even 1% use 11g.” Vallee calls Pythian “a robust sample” of Oracle customers, sufficient for use in statistical studies.

Vallee acknowledged that it might be unrealistic for Oracle to know exactly how many customers are using 11g, but the number of support requests they receive for help with 11g would be a good indication.

However, Oracle declined a request by Network World to provide any support numbers. They also declined to comment on Vallee’s claims, “instead providing links to a few documents, none of which show how many Oracle customers have adopted 11g.”

There’s nothing unusual about a slow adoption rate for a new release – so why would Oracle be reluctant to admit one? (If Vallee’s findings are valid). And, while it may be true that “organizations worldwide adopt Oracle 11g,” just how many organizations is it, exactly?

May 14, 2008  8:46 AM

Does Ellison deserve to be No. 1?

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

Know who was just ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ list of top-paid CEOs in technology companies in 2007, with a one-year net compensation of almost $193 million?

Here’s a hint: it’s not Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was knocked down to No. 11 after holding the top spot in 2006.

So, who took Jobs’ place? That would be Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who also ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ list of overall best-paid CEOs (a list on which Jobs ranked No. 120).

The rankings were based on “the overall compensation for the past year for executives, factoring in salary, cash bonuses, vested stock grants, stock gains and exercised stock options.” Nabeel Gareeb of MEMC Electronic Materials and John Chambers of Cisco Systems rounded out the top three of tech CEOs.

It’s interesting to take a look at what the blogosphere has been saying about Ellison’s “victory.” Silicon Valley reporter Sarah Lacy says that “he may not deserve how much he’s making, but he deserves to be one of the most highly paid CEOs in the Valley.”

She goes on to list Ellison’s accomplishments, including that he both “gets where technology is going” and “gets where technology business is going.”

And to all the Ellison loathers out there, Lacy (who seems to question why she isn’t one herself) had this to say: “But shareholders are not electing him president or best friend. They’re paying him to be a good CEO, and he may be one of the only ones worth what he’s being paid.”

CNET News.com blogger Charlie Cooper has a different take on things. He says that a CEO’s success should be measured by their company’s stock performance, and given Oracle’s stock performance over the last 10 years, Ellison is not worth $193 million (even though many readers leave comments criticizing the data he presents).

What do you think is the best way to measure the worth of a tech CEO? Does Ellison (or anyone, for that matter) deserve to make $193 million in a year? Or, do you think such rankings don’t even matter at all?

May 7, 2008  10:12 AM

What’s OAUG making at the “Knowledge Factory”?

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

I recently wrote about a post by Infoworld blogger Sean McCown, who argued that the real difference between Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle is the accessible community that Microsoft has built for its users.

But would a newly released tool from the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) change McCown’s mind about a supposed lack of community resources for Oracle users?

On April 16, OAUG announced the launch of its Knowledge Factory— “a centralized, dynamic platform for user-submitted content that provides a comprehensive knowledge-sharing resource for the organization’s members,” according to the press release.

The web-based forum is completely community-driven and allows its members to discuss and exchange advice on Oracle-related topics, search a library of articles and submit their own articles, as well. Some of the Knowledge Factory’s other features include a blog and discussion area, enhanced member profiles and an OAUG Conference Paper Database.

We have a similar community-driven forum here at TechTarget called the IT Knowledge Exchange (ITKE). It’s a place where you and your peers can ask and answer questions, get advice and read blogs written by other industry experts. You can also browse information by topic; for example, check out the Oracle-related tags found here.

Where do you go for Oracle information and advice from peers? (If you go anywhere at all?) Do you find community-driven environments like the OAUG’s Knowledge Factory useful? And, if you have used this forum already, what have your experiences been like?

April 29, 2008  10:52 AM

Oracle builds on database lead

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

The RDBMS market grew about 12% in 2007, with Oracle once again emerging as the market’s top vendor.

According to the “Worldwide RDBMS 2007 Vendor Shares” report that IDC released last week, Oracle not only increased its share of the market to 44%, but this 13% growth outpaced that of the overall market. A fact Charles Philips was eager to point out recently at Collaborate.

What factors influenced these increases, both for Oracle and the market as a whole?

According to IDC, much of Oracle’s growth was due to these reasons: the sale of options for Oracle database (i.e. RAC, Audit Vault and Database Vault), and the “unusually high early adoption rates” for the recently released Oracle 11g.

Four vendors besides Oracle dominate the market: Microsoft (who lost share this year), IBM, Teradata and Sybase. IDC attributes their overall growth to increasing competition for the midmarket segment and increased emphasis on security, data compression, and features that “offer greater flexibility and manageability in deployment.”

The IDC also predicts long-term market growth for the future. They see an increase in competition between medium-sized businesses and say that “capabilities such as Web service support, XML data support, and support for blended management of unstructured and structured data should give vendors of such capabilities a competitive advantage.”

Does Oracle deserve the top spot? Does it even matter anymore or are the database wars over?

April 25, 2008  1:27 PM

Documenting an 11g upgrade

Barney Beal Barney Beal Profile: Barney Beal

An upgrade to Oracle 11g (or any database upgrade for that matter) requires careful attention to planning and documentation, as Maria Anderson pointed out in her session on upgrading to 11g at Collaborate.

Maria strongly recommended keeping a document with all the contact information of people working on the upgrade, commands and stop and start times. It serves as an audit trail for compliance purposes, helps with change management and lets you easily retrace your steps if something goes wrong.

Well, Maria was kind enough to share the template she used for her 11g upgrade. You can download it here for your own use.

And, if you have any suggestions for other useful information to include or comments about how documentation helped (or saved!) your upgrade project, please share them.

April 23, 2008  9:08 AM

Oracle’s challenges in the channel

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

Oracle yesterday added 33 new applications to Oracle Accelerate, its partner program, bringing the total number of available solutions to 123. Accelerate allows Oracle to work with its partners to develop applications for small and medium-sized businesses.

So how does Oracle’s partner program measure up to rival SAP?

Warren Wilson, research director at Ovum, compares similar referral programs recently launched by each company. According to Wilson, while SAP’s goal is building long-lasting relationships with its channel partners, Oracle has its eye on mainly one thing: money.

“Oracle’s lead message is the money,” he said, although he couldn’t determine which company’s method (focus on money vs. relationships) is more effective.

Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) said recently that it sees channel management as Oracle’s greatest challenge. They say that Oracle “intends to drive 50% of license revenue through partners; however, it still relies on its direct sales team to drive most of the revenue, and the indirect channel only contributes 44 % of new license revenue.”

Another partner-related problem they see is a shift in management, with the recent departure of several key Oracle executives managing alliances and the channel.

TBR concludes by saying that in order to reach their target of 50 % partner-generated software license revenue, “Oracle would need to shift nearly $550 million from direct sales to indirect channels to balance the contribution percentages.” TBR believes the challenge is made more difficult as Oracle attempts to restart growth in software license sales in the current difficult [financial] climate.

What do you think — will Oracle be able to change things around? Or are its partnerships fine as is? Do you think there are actually bigger (and more important) challenges?

April 17, 2008  2:30 PM

Eating a whale sandwich — a real-life Fusion roadmap

Barney Beal Barney Beal Profile: Barney Beal

I caught an interesting session this week at Collaborate with Floyd Teter, who’s with the Jet Propulsion Lab, a bunch of scientists in Pasadena, Calif. working for NASA.

Teter’s presentation mirrored much of what I’d heard in an earlier session Nadia Bendjedou’s “10 Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for Fusion Applications.” That presentation has apparently been making the rounds. It’s been done before with some tweaking, such as the 10 Things PeopleSoft users can do … and 10 things E-Business Suite customers… sessions we’ve covered before, yet it’s a useful one, nonetheless.

Teter’s session has one major difference, however. He’s actually a customer preparing a roadmap to Fusion applications for his business.

Well, one major difference and one minor difference. Teter’s is a much more humorous presentation (be sure to carefully read his “safe harbor statement” if you’re ever in one of his sessions). In addition to serving as systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Teter is the chair of the OAUG’s Fusion Council so he’s pretty attuned to what’s happening. His roadmap is based largely on the aforementioned “10 steps” presentation. He advocates a small, incremental approach. Still, there are some differences.

First of all, there are some things that make the Jet Propulsion Lab unique. A scientific organization, it works on consensus– everyone has to agree– so projects can take a long time. Additionally, it’s not chasing customers, it’s chasing government funding that tends to go down each year, Teter said. Each business owner can make their own business process, so integration and flexibility are very important. Primarily an Oracle shop, the lab runs E-Business Suite 11.5, but “whether you’re on JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, E-Business Suite or Siebel, it doesn’t matter,” Teter said. Preparation is key.

Teter offered a few more nuggets during his session:

  • “This thing is a whale sandwich. You take this one bite at a time.”
  • On the PL/SQL developers at the lab— “All those folks have grown up in a procedural language and getting them to make the leap to object oriented is a nightmare. I’ve been at it three years now. If I’m lucky, 15% have made the leap. The other 85%? If they don’t make the leap, I’m going to have to look elsewhere.”
  • On Oracle Portal to Web Center — ” I still haven’t heard of a migration path.
    Workflow Oracle does not support the migration to BPEL.”
  • On Mod PL/SQL — “It’s gone in R12. We use Mod PL/SQL in my shop a lot.”
  • On loose coupling and its place in Fusion— “I’ve integrated two applications on two databases and I have a couple pieces of point-to-point integration. If Oracle comes out with a change to database design, as long as they’re just adding new stuff, I shouldn’t have to worry about them. It’s a lot like working with Lego bricks — I can pull out a piece here and put it in over there and my basic structure is still intact.”
  • On the first Fusion Application release— “One of the things you need to know about Fusion Applications is the first full release will not be a full replacement for E-business Suite or anything else. We already know manufacturing is not on the table for the first full Fusion release.”
  • On why he’s making the upgrade to E-Business Suite 12— “There is still a chance my business will not go to Fusion at all, they’ll stick on E-business suite until someone tells them they have to move. I think I can do that better from release12. Plus, on R12, I get the benefits of Fusion middleware.”Finally, perhaps the most useful piece of information Teter offered is a look at the documentation he’s done for the Jet Propulsion Lab’s Fusion roadmap. You can find it at his blog at http://orclville.blogspot.com/search/label/Roadmap. There’s one condition.

    “There’s a reason I share this thing,” he said. “Feedback. I’m no genius. Ask my wife. I know I’ve missed some things. If you see something that looks like a gap, tell me.”

  • April 16, 2008  11:35 AM

    CaSe SEnsITive PasSWoRds and other Oracle 11g features

    Barney Beal Barney Beal Profile: Barney Beal

    Last year, much of the attention at Collaborate focused on new features coming in database 11g.

    Now that it’s been released and digested by early adopters and beta testers, people are getting a handle on what they like. Case sensitive passwords in the database seem to be an early winner at sessions here in Denver.

    It was one thing Daniel Morgan, of the University of Washington, an Oracle ACE director and beta tester, mentioned in a session he led “11g New Features for Application DBAs and Developers.”

    “They have now changed passwords to be case sensitive and it’s about time they did,” Morgan, a member of the Puget Sound Oracle User Group, said. “One of the problems we’ve had for a long time is case sensitivity. People could put them in any way and they seemed to work.”

    It also caught the attention of Maria Anderson, of Petro Canada, who led a session on avoiding the pitfalls of an 11g upgrade (we’ll be posting an article on that session later this week).

    Real application testing has been a hot topic with 11g as well, but something Oracle is doing just fine getting the word out itself.

    “I figure Oracle sales people are really good at their job, they can talk about real application testing,” Morgan said.

    Another feature that stands out for Morgan is the flashback archive.

    “This is one of the best new features in 11g,” he said. “Flashback archive solves a problem that came with the creation of flashback.

    “Every table we’ve done in Oracle has always been a query as of system change number — a point in time. With 10g Oracle introduced flashback query so we could see as of particular time stamp.”

    For example, a DBA who forgot to run a daily report at 9 a.m. for their manager could use flashback query at 2 p.m. and set the parameters to get the 9 a.m. information.

    “With 11g, flashback archive allows you to take undo information as it’s evaporating out of undo table space and put it into an archive and track it,” Morgan said. “You can check it as far as 100 years back.”

    April 15, 2008  3:28 PM

    Phillips slams SAP, brags about databases at Collaborate ‘08

    Barney Beal Barney Beal Profile: Barney Beal

    Oracle may not be done yet.

    In his opening keynote address at Collaborate ’08 here in Denver, Oracle president Charles Phillips outlined Oracle’s strategy to dominate the database, middleware and applications markets.

    The database market seems to be well in hand. To applause from the audience, Phillips cited recent Gartner figures that said last year was the first time Oracle had more database market share than IBM and Microsoft combined.

    “If you’re an Oracle database customer, you can rest easy,” Phillips said.

    Not that there was much chance of Oracle’s database business folding. Nonetheless the 7,000 members of Oracle’s three major user groups, the Independent Oracle User Group, the Oracle Applications User Group and Quest, still like to hear that their vendor is staying aggressive.

    Oracle needs the user groups to help keep people informed, Phillips told the audience. No small task considering there are now 6,000 products at Oracle and more companies are joining the fold every day, willingly or unwillingly, a point Phillips joked about in his address.

    “There’s a new person almost every day at Oracle because of the acquisitions,” he said. “So if you’re not a customer yet, we’ll get you sooner or later.”

    That’s what happened with BEA. Five years ago, Oracle decided to enter the middleware market, perfect timing given the emergence of the Internet and industry integration standards.

    “Now we’re over $1 billion in revenue [in middleware],” he said. “We surpassed BEA and now we get to buy them. That’s the way it works.”

    The moment also presented Phillips with an opportunity to brag about Oracle’s application integration architecture (AIA) strategy announced last year at the show. AIA provides packaged, SOA technology, built on standards-based middleware, to integrate Oracle applications. Initial packages focused on some of the most common integrations, like order to cash integrations between Siebel and Oracle E-Business Suite. More packaged integrations will be released later this year.

    An Oracle address can’t go by without a swipe at SAP — and AIA provided Phillips the perfect opportunity.

    “If we don’t have [the integration] you want, you can take the platform yourself and build it,” he said. “That includes legacy applications and the mother of all legacy applications, of course, is SAP. In the course of all these acquisitions, [companies] are finding they’re Oracle applications shops now, they’re just using SAP for general ledger.”

    Future development, Phillips said, will focus on marrying Web 2.0 features into both Oracle’s enterprise and industry-specific applications.

    “You look at off-the-shelf applications and off-the-shelf is only about a third of what you do every day,” he said. “We hadn’t been addressing these industries.”

    Finally, in the one bit of news released yesterday, Phillips announced Oracle is extending Premium Support for Oracle E-Business Suite 11.5.10 another year later than planned, to November 2010.

    “When we said we were going to end support, we heard you’re not quite ready to upgrade,” he said. “Based on the input you’re giving us we do listen, we do react.”

    April 9, 2008  8:59 AM

    Is Yahoo the next PeopleSoft?

    Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

    Last month I posted about a New York Times article in which Larry Ellison touted Oracle’s acquisition strategy. He wondered why more companies didn’t follow in his footsteps by pursuing hostile takeovers.

    Now, Microsoft has made an announcement which Ellison will surely be pleased with (according to his own professed strategies anyway). Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave Jerry Yang and the Yahoo! management team this ultimatum Saturday morning: unless you agree to a deal within the next three weeks, we will go hostile and take the bid to a proxy fight.

    Analysts are now comparing Ballmer’s words to Ellison’s five years ago, when Oracle issued its hostile bid to PeopleSoft. In Market Watch analyst Therese Poletti’s article, Yahoo seems headed the way of PeopleSoft, she compares Yang’s spiteful attitude to that of PeopleSoft head Craig Conway:

    “[Such an attitude] is a dangerous position for the well-known Web pioneer. Conway lost his job when — in the heat of the merger battle — he made untruthful statements about his company’s business to analysts. Conway later admitted in a deposition that those statements were ‘absolutely not true’ and that he was ‘promoting, promoting, promoting.’

    The same could be said about Yahoo. In March, Yahoo released a presentation to investors with what many have since described as unrealistic expectations and forecasts…”

    Although Ellison’s bid for PeopleSoft was ultimately successful, this acquisition was a prolonged, two-year process, much of which took place in court and resulted in the falling of Oracle stock prices and PeopleSoft sales.

    The damage was done on both sides, but Oracle came out the victor. And Poletti thinks Oracle’s success is indicative of that of similar corporations:

    “The software giant’s track record has suggested that companies with deep pockets and resolve eventually get what they want regardless of the preferences of their adversaries.”

    What do you think– Is Yang digging himself into a deeper hole by not giving in? Is his battle simply a losing one, whose fate is bound to mirror those of companies bought out by Oracle? If you were in Yang’s position, what would you do?

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