Monday, November 12, 2007

Charles Phillips meets with Bloggers and Discusses Fusion, SaaS, SAP and more

Today, Oracle took a significant positive step in blogger relations and reached out to Enterprise Irregulars - arranging a sit down with Oracle President Charles Phillips shortly after his keynote where he announced Oracle VM - Oracle's entry into the multi-billion dollar virtualization market. The blogger meet up was twice as much fun for me since I am proud of my affiliation with both Oracle and Enterprise Irregulars. The meeting lasted 45 minutes as Charles took questions on several topics that included - innovation, Fusion, SaaS, SAP and Cognos.

Irregulars with Charles Phillips

I found the session very interesting - Charles clearly had great command of Oracle's business strategy, the rationale behind acquisitions and posited interesting perspective on issues facing Oracle customers. For example, he emphasized that Oracle has more than 1.8 million users of its SaaS applications - but also took issue with multi-tenancy being narrowly equated with SaaS which he argued was a vendor strategy for keeping costs down and not a customer requirement.

Charles also talked about how he learned from GE's success in acquiring companies and retaining and growing top talent. Oracle keeps acquired software businesses as intact teams creating "business units" allowing the acquired management teams to continue to run the business.

In response to another question, Charles mentioned Oracle has now surpassed SAP to become #1 practice for Deloitte in North America. On the topic of Cognos being acquired by Oracle, Charles said "Not surprising, it would have been hard for Cognos to float around by itself. This is good for us – IBM does not have a good record of retaining talent from acquisitions and SAP is also struggling."

Here are the key posts that resulted from this meeting (which I will update over the next 2-3 days).

Dan Farber (ZDnet Editor-in-Chief and fellow Irregular) posted Oracle’s Charles Phillips: Fusion on track and SaaS for all. Here are some excerpts, I find interesting:
Phillips said he modeled managing different businesses within the Oracle business on GE’s structure. “We give them autonomy and enough authority so they feel like they are running the company,” he said.

...

Oracle has acquired companies large and small over the last several years to fill out is product portfolio. In some sense the strategy is about acquiring innovation, and talented developers, via smaller companies, but it is more directed toward acquiring market share with the larger acquisitions.

...

“We will make sure all of our products are able to run as software-as-a-service,” Phillips said. “We give them choice, and we think we can run it better than customers.” Oracle is looking at providing hosted applications for financial and retail customers with point-of-sale systems.

Jeff Nolan writes Into the Lion’s Den: Oracle OpenWorld. He has an interesting perspective as a former SAP executive and a leading voice in Enterprise 2.0.

Today was a milestone day for me in my professional life. After nearly a decade of SAP, culminating in my stint with the “attack Oracle” team, I ended up at Oracle OpenWorld as their guest sitting across the table from co-president Charles Phillips. BTW, OOW is frickin huge… I thought the Sapphire events were impressive but OOW is much larger and goes for the full week.

...

Phillips echoed sentiments I heard at SAP that customers don’t want end-to-end multi-tenant hosted solutions. In fact, he argued that because Oracle offers a private database option that they are uniquely able to capture government and other accounts that are prohibited from allowing their data to be on hosted datacenters. Quite honestly, I found this hard to believe but was unwilling to argue the point absent of factual data to support my own position.

One comment that he made about subscription pricing caught my attention, he said (to paraphrase) “if you look at the numbers you will find that saas subscription models are more lucrative after 2 1/2 years than perpetual licenses”. I would like to see that data, but tend to agree with him even absent of the data.

...

Karen (Senior Director, Corporate Communications) is definitely not what I expected from someone with Oracle Marcom… no taser strapped to her hip, no brass knuckles at the ready… just a competent hard working professional.


I am looking forward to see what other blogger attendees Michael Krigsman, Brian Sommer, Josh Greenbaum, Sadagopan and Vinnie have to say about this update.

Summary

This was overall an exciting step forward for Oracle in working with the blogger community. Even though the opinions on this meeting will be diverse, there was near unanimity amongst the attendee bloggers that we need more of this - interaction with vendors that our readers (and software customers and users) care about.

Kudos: Special thanks to Irregulars Jeff Nolan and Vinnie Mirchandani that worked with Karen Tillman, Jake and others at Oracle to make this a reality.

(Disclaimer: Please read full disclaimer below. All opinions expressed here are my own personal views.)

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