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Oracle was transitioning to the cloud "before the word even existed" says CEO Safra Catz

Scott Carey | Feb. 7, 2017
The company has been mocked in the past for being late to the cloud

Oracle's transition to being a major enterprise cloud vendor took another step forward yesterday as co-CEO Safra Catz addressed widely held perceptions that the company was late to embrace cloud computing.

Catz who is widely considered to be founder Larry Ellison's right-hand woman following her 18-year stint as an executive at the company said in London yesterday that Oracle has been preparing for a shift to the cloud for several years now.

"We at Oracle have always been blessed by having a founder, CTO and chairman who is always looking way into the future," she said. "Many of you know Larry directed the entire development organisation to build what we called SaaS-ready, business online and platform as a service before the word cloud even existed.

"Over a decade ago, after we started our acquisition spree, our goal was to rewrite our entire product line. We telegraphed and took an important decision even then to what the future was going to be like now, because we had a focus on what technology should really be helping enterprises do."

The enterprise software giant appears to be trying its hand at revisionist history here. Ellison and his company has been mocked in the past for being late to the cloud, dating back to an infamous video where the ex-CEO said that the cloud is just "water vapour".

Head of technology and cloud for UK, Ireland and Israel at Oracle John Abel told Computerworld UK after Catz' keynote that he always asks customers what they think of Oracle when they first meet and that they tend to say: "Database company, late to cloud."

Abel's job is then to explain that it is, in his words, "a database company, who put in $5 billion worth of R&D spend and ten years of cloud development".

"That is the problem we have: we just don't tell the customers enough," he said.

Abel added that the sales culture at Oracle is "changing aggressively" to meet demands from customers.

"It is much more moving to consultative selling than typical product selling. A lot of the cultural shift I am doing at Oracle is going from a product culture to a solution culture."

Catz' also spoke during her keynote about a changing "engagement model" at the company when speaking to customers about the cloud.

Oracle is a company which is renowned for its tough negotiation style when it comes to contracts. Catz appeared to engage with this perception directly, saying: "In the cloud, customers don't want a six-month contract negotiation with us, six months sounds ridiculous. In the days where a five-year implementation was the rule of putting in a new system, six months maybe sounded reasonable. Now when you can go from beginning to end in a month, or four months, the very concept is absurd."


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