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Oracle set to build out cloud service capabilities, rivalry with Salesforce.com

Chris Kanaracus | Oct. 3, 2012
Oracle is planning to broaden the footprint of its cloud software portfolio with seven new services covering developer team services, analytics, collaboration and other areas, Executive Vice President of Product Development Thomas Kurian announced Tuesday during the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

Oracle's cloud also includes a central identity management system and a console based on Oracle's Enterprise Manager for "complete self-service," he said.

Kurian and another Oracle employee demonstrated how a system administrator could probe through and drill down into a graphical rendering of the Oracle cloud's topology, examining not only application performance and hardware metrics, but also business processes, such as how many marketing campaigns had been launched from a CRM (customer-relationship-management) application within the past day.

Ellison is expected to discuss the Oracle cloud's built-in social networking technology during a keynote later Tuesday, but Kurian also touched upon the topic briefly.

"If you've got happy customers, they spread the word about your products and services, and likewise if you've got unhappy customers," and social media allows this to happen at much greater scale than in the past, he said.

Oracle's social tools will allow users to engage with customers on social sites, analyze social data for business-related insights, and collaborate more effectively with fellow employees, he said.

This strategy, once again, shares many similarities with Salesforce.com's, underscoring a rivalry that has resulted in both companies making a series of similar acquisitions to boost their social software arsenals.

But Kurian took a different tack than Salesforce.com when discussing the Oracle SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications available through its cloud.

"We don't want our customers to have fragmented data and fragmented business processes because your ERP happens to be in one cloud, your HCM happens to be in another cloud," he said.

That may have been a subtle dig at Salesforce.com, which has ventured into some application areas outside of CRM but mostly seems to be building out a best-of-breed ERP (enterprise-resource-planning) suite via partnerships and integrations with the likes of Workday.

It was interesting to see, however, that Kurian's references to Oracle's cloud applications didn't focus strictly on its next-generation Fusion line, said Forrester Research analyst China Martens. "The customers talked about the Fusion Apps they were using in the videos, but the Oracle slides weren't branded 'Fusion Apps,'" she said via email. "I expect that makes it easier to incorporate Oracle's SaaS buys, whether Taleo or all the recent social purchases into its cloud apps vision."

It also "keeps the tent wider for 'cloud apps,'" letting Oracle lump in hosted versions of E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft, Martens added.

 

 

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