There’s plenty going on at Oracle, says Mark Hurd
Oracle‘s chief operating officer Mark Hurd poured cold water on speculation he was being invited to take over at Dell, which Michael Dell wants to take off the stockmarket into the hands of private investors.
Emphasising his commitment to Oracle, he mounted a firm defence of the company’s cloud strategy, with increased presence in physical data centres, and more acquisitions of cloud based firms to come in the future. Despite closer integration between software and services at Oracle, he argued the company actually offers the customer more flexibility to “do IT their own way”.
The Dell you say!
“I am very happy at Oracle, and I have no interest in the role at Dell,” said Hurd, in a press Q and A session at an Oracle Cloud event in London. Investor Carl Icahn is attempting to disrupt Michael Dell’s bid to take Dell private, offering an alternative bid, based on recapitalisation from Southeastern Asset Management – and without Michael Dell at the helm.
Hurd was quick to dismiss suggestions he was being groomed to lead Dell, a PC maker making a transition to a full spectrum enterprise systems and services company – though he would be well qualified. He formerly ran HP, and is now managing Oracle’s combination of enterprise software and hardware .
Announcing Oracle’s new UK-based data centre specifically designed for cloud services on the UK government’s G-Cloud framework, he talked about the need to have physical data centres that meet the needs for data repatriation and governance rules.
Hurd promised Oracle would make 20 acquisitions this year, but would not say whether these would be in cloud or other areas. “We’ve focused on some social acqusitions and SaaS,” he said. “We’ve been active in filling in our portfolio.”
With a continuing business based on licenced on-premise software, Oracle has to address the potential conflict between this and the cloud software option, which can be delivered for a monthly fee on the Oracle cloud, or on a private cloud.
His answer is that Oracle is already a big cloud player – with $1 billion in cloud revenue – and offers customers a choice between the different options: “Anything we do for customers on the Oracle Cloud, we will do in the private cloud. We think this is a major differentiator. You can now buy on Oracle Cloud, a private cloud, or on-premise software.”
Oracle allows hybrid environments, that combine on-premise apps with cloud apps for the same thing, instead of having to rip-and replace one to move to the other, he said.
Underneath that, Oracle’s SPARC based hardware is crucial to its own data centres, and available for customers, he said: “”We build our cloud on engineered systems. We use a standard configuration, using Exalogic appliances and Exadata storage.” And this is based on a modernisation of the product line.
The SPARC processor family has been emerging from a period in which it was eclipsed by IBM’s Power RISC chip, he said. The T4 chip, launched in 2011, is “already the fastest growing Unix box in the industry”, he told the press, having replaced the “frankly long in the tooth” T3. That has now been followed by the T5, launched in March, running two-and-a-half times faster than the T4,
Even while allowing users to select best-of-breed products from other suppliers, he thinks they will prefer Oracle for three reasons: integration (“we do the work for you”), performance (“for some cases, Exadata speed has gone up by 2000 times”) and support (“we can respond in nano-seconds”).
Oracle has to deal with Wall Street too
So, Hurd believes that at Oracle he has a more interesting technological job to do. But, even here has has some of the issues that forced Michael Dell to attempt taking Dell private.
Dell believes that the investors on Wall Street are focused on the short term goals reported in quarterly financial figures. Oracle may also fall foul of this, since its decision to offer users the choice of buying software on an op-ex basis on the cloud, instead of as a capital expense, may have a big impact on its cash flow.
“We think this is the right thing to do,” he said. “We are driving the market forwards.”
But do Wall Street analysts understand this? Will they accept a slowing of revenue for a long-term benefit?
“I don’t know what they are thinking,” said Hurd. “I have enough trouble running the company.” “One of the greathe isn’t interested in the Dell
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