Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd was in pugnacious form when he sat down with a small group of UK reporters last Friday. The former HP CEO gave a robust defence of Oracle’s shift towards cloud computing, its merger-and-acquisition strategy and its research-and-development spending.
Hurd, taking half an hour out from visiting local customers, begun by discussing the transition from on-premises IT to cloud computing.
“We’re in the middle of a significant transformation of the company and you’re beginning to see the evidence of it,” he said, adding that of the three tiers of cloud, software as a service will trump infrastructure as a service and platform as a service in importance. “If you own the apps, you own the entire stack,” he said. “We’ve now rewritten all our software for the cloud.”
Hurd added that Oracle had increased R&D spend, investing over $5bn to revamp its offerings for browser-based services. That investment has paid off and been supplemented by M&A where Oracle has focused on leaders rather than filling gaps, he claimed.
“We actually buy companies because it aligns to our strategy [and] it makes financial sense,” he said. “We have typically been first movers and we typically buy … really good companies.”
While the former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison once mocked the hype over cloud computing as “pure gibberish”, Oracle has taken big strides to embrace the shift with new datacentres, internally developed cloud versions of products and acquisitions such as Taleo, RightNow and a pending to deal to buy ERP/e-commerce firm NetSuite. Hurd predicts that 80 per cent of enterprise IT will move to the cloud by 2025 and areas like testing and development can go 100 per cent to the cloud.
Asked whether Oracle might make a bigger splash in consulting services, Hurd noted the services model had been impacted by the cloud trend. “The role changes … you can extend but can’t customise an app in the cloud.” Could Oracle make a big acquisition in the sector as has occasionally been rumoured in the past? Hurd would only say that Oracle will provide “sufficient resource” to meet opportunities.
Asked about Oracle’s ability to compete with Amazon Web Services, Hurd said Oracle is not interested in a price war.
“It isn’t for us about a war. We’re executing our strategy and our strategy isn’t to go to war with bare metal but provide a complete set of capabilities for our customers and be best of breed in everything we do.”
Hurd, who asked to go off the record several times in the session, would not formally comment on Dell’s recent capture of EMC. But when asked about Michael Dell’s belief that enterprises will buy from fewer suppliers, he said: “I buy into simplicity” and added that “We think customers don’t want to have 10 clouds.”
Hurd also took aim at the perception that Oracle could be a bruising company for customers to do business with.
“Many of [these stories] are perpetuated by our competitors but our view has been to make it easier and easier for customers to do business with Oracle.”
A project called the Accelerated Buying Experience is “designed to eliminate all the friction we possibly can” and align with a “new world” where transactions are smaller and deals will move more quickly.
The old world where there is a “do-it-yourself mentality” and IT has been developed as “complex Lego sets” is going but “there’s still learning” to be done, he added.
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