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Friday, September 20, 2013

Oracle’s Next Cloud Moves

In a couple of days, Oracle is going to go all in on the cloud, with many new products and features, and a “the customer gets to choose” strategy for how rapidly its buyers make the biggest step in tech in over the last two decades.

“We won’t force a binary call” between internal computer servers or software running in another company’s cloud, said Mark V. Hurd, Oracle’s co-president. If people want to keep applications behind their corporate firewall for now and migrate to the cloud later, he said, that is fine.

For a company that still counts on the “behind the firewall” software for most of its revenue, that long view that applications will go to the cloud is a big deal. It is also another sign from the big enterprise technology incumbents that times have changed.

On Sunday, Oracle will kick off its annual customer conference, with an expected attendance of 60,000 people, with a speech from its founder and chief executive, Lawrence J. Ellison. Mr. Hurd will speak on Monday.

Among the announcements: All of Oracle’s applications have been streamlined to run within advanced in-memory computers. “In some cases, they are 100 times faster,” Mr. Hurd said in an interview.

Software developers will also be able to use both databases and Java programming tools in the Oracle cloud. That means they will be able to develop new applications more cheaply and easily than in the past, when they had to work with local servers, then upload the software to the cloud.

This builds on a June announcement with Microsoft that Oracle software, Java, Oracle’s database and its WebLogic server would all run on Microsoft’s Azure cloud and on Microsoft’s server virtualization software.

“We’ve changed a lot of things bringing business transformation to the cloud,” said Mr. Hurd. “We’ve spend a lot on research and development.”

There will also be updates and product releases from Taleo, a personnel-management, cloud-software company that Oracle bought; a new e-business suite of products; and better integration of communications and social media interactions from Eloqua and Acme Packet, two other Oracle acquisitions. Oracle will also discuss new versions and performance metrics in Exalytics, its data analytics product, and Endeca, a personalized retail application.

The bands Maroon 5 and The Black Keys will also perform on Wednesday, but don’t expect much new there. This crowd likes the standards.

Many more spending and product announcements are likely, as Oracle presents its new face and raises its competitive game against pure cloud software companies like Salesforce.com and Workday, which not coincidentally announced an alliance on the eve of the Oracle show.

“We’ve invested in separate global business units” capable of moving companies to cloud software at different speeds, depending on geography, industry, and regulatory needs, Mr. Hurd said. “We’re still in the early innings of this stuff. Suites of capabilities will be important.”

Like never before, though, the competition is coming at Oracle from even the smallest places, Mr. Hurd acknowledged. “Markets like Brazil have their own apps companies selling into the cloud,” he said. “China has apps companies for midmarket companies.” The largest companies in China still like the more expensive Oracle products, he said, both for reliability and the status of having a well-known provider.

They do for now, anyway.