Eye on Oracle

February 27, 2012  8:16 PM

Larry Ellison — Philanthropist?

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

When you think of philanthropic CEOs, who crosses your mind? Bill and Melinda Gates? Sir Richard Branson? Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps? Larry Ellison usually doesn’t even register. Equities.com has released their list of the five most charitable CEOs in America. Much to the surprise of many, on the list was Larry Ellison.

“Firmly a member of the 1 percent, Larry Ellison’s passions include yachting, driving his exotic cars, and flying his private jets… However, before you grab the torches and pitchforks, know that Ellison has pledged or donated over $800 million to charity over the course of his life,” the article reads.

In 2010, Larry Ellison became one of the 40 billionaires to sign Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge. On the Giving Pledge’s website, Ellison writes that virtually all of his assets are in a special trust, and that he plans to one day give away 95% of his wealth to charitable causes.

Is Ellison’s pledge for real, or just a publicity stunt? Does Ellison have a secret philanthropic side that just happens to clash horribly with his public image? It’s tough to say, but something to keep in mind is that the man in question is a person with an estimated net worth of $28 billion — $800 million, while still a hefty sum, may not be the sacrifice to Larry Ellison that it would be to us mere financial mortals.

Still, sometimes credit is due where credit is due — as bombastic as Ellison may be, it seems he is committing his share of good deeds.

February 23, 2012  3:06 PM

Oracle continues attack on third-party support providers

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Oracle has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming that two third-party support providers violated Oracle’s intellectual property, with the case being similar to ongoing legal battles Oracle has with Rimini Street and SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow.

Oracle claims that Norcross, Ga.-based ServiceKey and Wilmington, Del.-based DLT Federal Business Systems Corporation (FBSC) downloaded Oracle support and technical documents so it could then turn around and provide them to its customers, a move Oracle says is illegal. Oracle claims companies duped by the two defendants included the U.S. Navy and the Federal Drug Administration.

The lawsuit also claims that several unnamed parties, called “Does 1-5” in the complaint, used ServiceKey and DLT Oracle Support credentials to illegally download material.

Oracle is calling what the two companies did a “gray market conspiracy to sell support on Oracle hardware to customers with no active support contract with Oracle that would permit the customers to access or use Oracle’s support website,” according to the complaint.

“Neither the Defendants nor the customers that contracted with them directly had any right to access and/or download software patches or updates from Oracle, but Defendants falsely told their customers that Defendants could provide access and support,” the lawsuit reads.

The case is similar to lawsuits Oracle has filed against Rimini and TomorrowNow. Back in 2010 Oracle sued Rimini Street, claiming the company was using Oracle customers’ support logins to illegally download support materials and then provide third-party support to them. Rimini countersued Oracle, saying they were being anti-competitive. And a couple years prior to that, Oracle sued SAP over its subsidiary TomorrowNow, claiming the company engaged in copyright infringement and illegal downloads. Both cases are still in the courts.

February 15, 2012  7:11 PM

RightNow- Oracle’s foothold in CEM

Lena Weiner Lena Weiner Profile: Lena Weiner

Last October, Oracle acquired RightNow for $1.5 billion. At the time, the move was rather unexpected on Oracle’s part, and left many industry insiders scratching their heads.

Now that the dust is settling, however, the strategy and intentions behind the RightNow acquisition are finally coming into focus.

Customer service has historically been a weak point for Oracle. “Customer service isn’t the strongest suit for Oracle,” said Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research.

Oracle does have strong call center technology in Oracle Contact On Demand, however. Was the intent behind this merger providing Oracle with the cloud framework it needed to challenge long-time rival Salesforce.com in the areas of customer experience management and multi-tenancy? Is Oracle looking to compete with other firms in the realm of customer experience

RightNow is known for providing customer-centric service, including utilizing social networking, live chat service and guided assistance. In the last few years, Oracle has purchased multiple firms for the sole purpose of gaining the rights to that organization’s particular product. For example, in June of last year, they purchased FatWire for access to their content management systems; Pillar Data Systems in order to have a strong storage foundation that July; and Datanomic that same month in order to have a base in data quality. RightNow fits right in as a part of their pattern of purchasing an entire firm in order to move into a market or compete in a new area.

Does Larry Ellison see RightNow as the key to doing battle with Salesforce?

Almost certainly. Forrester analyst Dianne Clarkson was quoted as saying, “RightNow has a lot to offer Oracle. Along with salesforce.com, we called out RightNow as a SaaS solution that was faster to deploy and easier to change than traditional on-premise offerings. RightNow is well positioned to give Oracle a customer service offering for the mid-market.”

It will be interesting to watch how this situation continues to unfold. Stay tuned…

January 31, 2012  2:51 PM

SAP could license HANA to Oracle

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott said in an interview published Monday that he could see SAP’s High Performance Analytic Appliance (HANA) being licensed to Oracle, one of its main rivals in the database and business applications space.

According to Reuters, McDermott told a German newspaper that the possibility exists.

“The question is whether Oracle can imagine it,” he said.

McDermott’s comment about “whether Oracle can imagine” the possibility of running Oracle applications on SAP HANA seems a bit ridiculous. Oracle applications already run on competing appliances such as Teradata and IBM Netezza. Also, SAP applications run on Oracle Exadata. It seems a strong possibility that Oracle would be open to the idea of Oracle applications running on SAP HANA.

SAP HANA could give Oracle shops another choice when it comes to appliances. HANA lines up against Oracle’s own in-memory appliance, Exalytics, as well as lining up indirectly against the Oracle Exadata database machine. In a recent SearchOracle.com survey, about 6% of Oracle shops said they would consider SAP HANA as an alternative to Exadata. That isn’t a lot, but it’s important to remember that SAP HANA just came out at the end of 2010.

January 26, 2012  4:52 PM

Oracle vs. SAP…in databases?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

In a press conference yesterday, SAP Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe declared that the company will be going after Oracle…in the database market.

According to a Wall Street Journal blurbon the press conference, Snabe said that SAP is “ready to go for leadership in two new categories; namely the database business and the cloud business.”

The database business is one in which Oracle owns almost 50% of the market share. SAP, at about 2%, is barely a blip on the screen. And yet no one should be that surprised by Snabe’s comments. SAP is lining up its in-memory High-Performance Analytic Appliance (HANA) against appliances from Oracle such as Exadata and Exalytics. SAP has been pushing the in-memory database message for a while now, and is placing a bet that more companies will move toward in-memory for better performance.

Can SAP become a leader in databases? It is certainly possible, and not without precedent. IT companies rise and fall, and sometimes it happens quickly. I remember a few years back when Sun Microsystems started getting into the x86 server space. The company quickly built up its share competing against the likes of big boys IBM, HP and Dell. Then as Oracle acquired Sun, the company’s share in the x86 server market is going down just as rapidly, as Oracle is uninterested in selling low-margin x86 hardware. So certainly these are grand proclamations by SAP, but still worth keeping an eye on.

January 16, 2012  1:09 PM

Oracle to issue 78 security fixes

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Oracle is scheduled to release 78 fixes on Tuesday as part of its quarterly security patch update.

Oracle MySQL will receive the most fixes with 27, while Oracle Sun products will have the highest security vulnerabilities. The patch will be for the following products:

  • 27 for MySQL
  • 17 for Sun products
  • 11 for Fusion Middleware
  • Eight for JD Edwards
  • Six for PeopleSoft
  • Three for E-Business Suite
  • Three for Oracle’s virtualization software
  • Two for Oracle Database
  • One for Oracle’s supply chain software

The remaining security patch releases for 2012 are expected on April 17, July 17 and October 16.

January 12, 2012  3:57 PM

Oracle Exalytics hardware pricing to start at $135,000

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Oracle changed its price list this week, adding prices for its Exalytics business intelligence appliance and the TimesTen in-memory database software to go with it.

As Chris Kanaracus from the IDG News Service noted, the price list change suggests that an announcement for general availability of Exalytics should be coming soon. According to the price list, the Exalytics hardware costs $135,000. That includes a single 3U Oracle-Sun server with four 10-core Intel Xeon processors and 1 TB of memory. Support and licensing for it runs another approximately $30,000 per year.

But then we get into software pricing for the machine. The TimesTen software is $366 per user for named-user plus ($300 for licensing, $66 for support) or about $42,000 per processor. There’s more. According to the price list notes, Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite is required for Exalytics, with the number of licenses matching that for TimesTen. According to a different Oracle price list, BI Foundation Suite is about $4,500 per user or about $550,000 per processor. Yeah. It adds up quickly.

That said, this is all list price. Customers can often negotiate 70% discounts or even steeper.

January 11, 2012  4:00 PM

Third-party Oracle support shows increased interest

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Rimini Street Inc., a third-party Oracle support provider, this morning posted revenue numbers for the fourth quarter last year and for all of 2011. Both were up about 30% compared to the prior year’s period.

The numbers show that many Oracle (and SAP) end users are trying to get more life out of their software than Oracle and SAP often want. They also show that there are plenty of IT pros out there who have come around to considering and using third-party support, something that really wasn’t considered just a short time ago. Rimini supports Oracle Database and a host of Oracle applications such as E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and Siebel.

In general, more Oracle end users are considering third-party support providers. In a 2010 survey, 32% of SearchOracle.com readers said they always consider third-party support. That number jumped to 41% in 2011.

According to the numbers, Rimini Street had about $33 million in revenues last year. Now let’s be honest: That is an absolute drop in the bucket compared to Oracle’s overall revenues, and even compared to Oracle’s support revenues. Just to give you an idea, Oracle’s licensing and support revenues last year was close to $16 billion. That’s with a B, compared to $33 million with an M. And if you talk to Rimini executives, they’ll say as much. For them, it just means they still have plenty of room to continue growing.

And if you think Oracle isn’t noticing companies like Rimini, you would be wrong. Oracle is spending a lot of money to sue Rimini Street, claiming Rimini has stolen Oracle software and support materials through Rimini’s clients. Rimini is denying the charges, of course. The lawsuit was initially filed in 2010. There are more hearings set on the case this year.

January 3, 2012  4:36 PM

Top 5 Oracle stories on SearchOracle.com in 2011

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Well, it’s 2012! But please allow me one quick look back. Here is a list of the top 5 Oracle stories on SearchOracle.com in 2011, ranked both by news importance and page views on SearchOracle.com. These are in no particular order.

Exaportfolio and other hardware

First is Oracle’s additions and updates to what I’m calling its Exaportfolio. Exadata, Exalogic, and now, Exalytics. Exalytics is built for business intelligence, and has the TimesTen in-memory database built into it along with Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite. It is yet another attempt by Oracle to sell its integrated appliances. It also previewed its Big Data Appliance meant to run Hadoop and Oracle’s new NoSQL Database Enterprise Edition inside. Are you thinking of buying up one of these integrated appliances?
Read our Exadata and Exalogicserver guides, and check out why Exalytics might be a better comparison to SAP HANA than any previous Oracle appliance.

And don’t forget about the other hardware announcements Oracle made this year: the Sparc SuperCluster and the Oracle Database Appliance.

Fusion Applications

The year 2011 was yet another year for Oracle Fusion Applications. For most it meant another year of waiting for Fusion to come to fruition. But there were some stories that trickled out of actual companies using Fusion Applications in production through Oracle’s early adoption program. Principal Financial Group was the first, as Oracle started telling its story earlier in the year, and then Principal expounded on it later, when Oracle Fusion Applications became generally availableat Openworld. In other case, Patrick Gresham, the enterprise applications manager for a fast food chain, detailed how his company decided to move to Fusion. Finally, at Openworld some Fusion CRM early adopters told their stories.

That said, there are still many concerns around whether most customers are ready to adopt Fusion.

Oracle Support

Customer and technical support is a challenge when dealing with most vendors, but it appears to be even more acute when it comes to Oracle. Earlier in 2011 we published a story questioning whether the phrase Oracle Support is an oxymoron. Readers came back at us with a flurry of comments, most of them negative. Experts at a local Oracle users group meetinglater in the year echoed readers’ feelings. At Oracle Openworld, we scored an interview with Oracle President Mark Hurd, where we asked him about it. His response? That support is critical to Oracle.

Oracle reaches for the cloud

At Oracle Openworld, the company announced Oracle Public Cloud. Initially the Oracle Public Cloud will include two Fusion Applications, CRM and Human Capital Management. In the future it is also projected to include a social network and Oracle Database, among other things. Needless to say many experts said Oracle was a bit late to the game, what with Amazon and Salesforce.com among others having already dived headfirst into the cloud. There were also stories of Oracle customers dipping their toes into cloud computing. AT&T is eyeing hybrid cloud computing, for example. And Floyd Teter, a well-known name in the Oracle applications universe, said that Fusion Apps being available in the cloud is a big deal.

Oracle is still also trying to push Exalogic as a “cloud in a box,” and consultant Eric Guyer scrutinized that claim. Other Oracle experts opined in August on Oracle’s place in the cloud, before the Public Cloud announcement.

Watch out for Oracle license audits

Another story published by SearchOracle.com in 2011 that gained some headway was our two-part series on Oracle licensing audits. The first warned the reader about audits, outlining how they usually come about and the reasons behind them. The second went into further depth about an Oracle license audit – what happens during them and how end users can avoid license auditing traps. The stories led to editor Mark Fontecchio being invited to present during a Miro Consulting webinar on license auditing.

December 22, 2011  3:26 PM

Oracle holiday wish list

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Earlier this week we sent out a note asking Oracle end users for their holiday wish lists. We got a wide range of responses, including requests for big box items like Exadata all the way down to detailed features such as schema-level privileges. How about you, what are you hoping out of Oracle in the next year? Comment here or email us at editor@searchoracle.com. Here are some responses:

Oracle becomes OpenSource – maybe Santa has the power to deliver…

1. Oracle 11g XE for 64-bit Windows!
2. Give me back the “old” Java-based “Enterprise Console Manager.”

Exadata !!!

APEX for my Oracle DB reporting.

Schema-level privileges.  Come on, it’s been decades.
Also how about: Alter username rename to new_username.

Ironically, I do not have a Christmas wish list for Oracle this year.  While a bit on the pricey side, I must say that the Oracle relational database software, which is what we primarily use and are running Oracle11g Release 2 on Linux and Solaris, has been very stable, scalable, and performs reasonably well.  I am pleased with Oracle’s quarterly critical patch update schedule and process, and have come to depend on Oracle as the workhorse database engine alongside SQL Server 2008 R2 and MySQL.  So I guess my only wish is that Oracle continue to advance and improve the relational database product line and doesn’t break anything in the process.

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