Oracle claims complete cloud suite
Takes an axe to Salesforce with CRM and social apps
OpenWorld 2012 On Monday, Larry Ellison told attendees at OpenWorld 2012 in San Francisco that Oracle was a reluctant entrant into the cloud market, pushed on  by the wishes of its customers. Just one day later, his company claimed its new public cloud applications suite is the biggest in the business.
VP of Oracle Product Development Thomas Kurian used his Tuesday OpenWorld keynote to debut seven new cloud services that can integrate with the company's on-premises software. These cover storage, backoffice, and messaging functions – and Oracle is also looking for partners to add to its portfolio.
Oracle will now have a triple play of infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service, the company said, claiming a first for the industry. Larry & Co. also promise an aggressive roll-out of new services and full support for mission-critical applications, with a spread of hosting options.
To this end it has added five new datacenters (two in the US, two in Europe, and one in Asia) to give users local control over where their data is held, and improve reliability. Oracle claims 25 million users of its cloud products, spread over 10,000 paying customers. It's also incentivizing its partner network to add more.
Developers are being promised a common development environment and greater sharing of code. Partners will be able to sell cloud apps, and a small number of resellers will be certified to offer both its SaaS offerings but also their own code via the Oracle platform.
In addition, ISVs will get a new system to allow them to transfer either on-premises custom code or software hosted by other providers onto Oracle's own systems. This will also involve a level of code sharing that Kurian likened to an industry app store, though he declined to go into much detail.
Kurian spent most of his keynote focusing on two key areas: CRM and social media management – coincidentally the heart of arch-rival Salesforce.com. Kurian managed to make it through his entire pitch without mentioning that company by name, but he did use his pitch to show off a suite of cloud apps aimed at chopping Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's crew off at the knees.
The two companies do agree on one thing: social networking has to be integrated. Kurian claimed that one bad customer review online reaches 1,350 people via social media, and companies need to be ready to "reach out" to upset users and turn them into happy customers. Sales teams can also use social media to hone pitches and gain sales, he said.
But Marc Benioff might be ruing quite how long  he spent praising the usefulness of social media in CRM at the DreamForce conference last month. He promised that its cloud offerings in the area would be ready to go some time next year, but Kurian is planning a somewhat speedier deployment
"You can go to cloud.oracle.com and later this week we're going to give customers who want to try our database and Java service a month's free trial of those services," Kurian promised, with the option to buy on a monthly payment schedule or longer-term contracts. ®