Oracle OpenWorld: Oracle wants to 'sell cars, not bits of cars'

Oracle wants to sell you cars, not bits of cars. That was the theme of a remarkably low-key presentation by Oracle presidents Safra Catz and Charles Phillips...

Oracle wants to sell you cars, not bits of cars. That was the theme of a remarkably low-key presentation by Oracle presidents Safra Catz and Charles Phillips on day two of the San Francisco Oracle OpenWorld conference.

Phillips and Catz gave a rundown of the products - complete with sales pitches and demos from product managers - that have ended up in Oracle's portfolio, either through internal development or as a result of Oracle's acquisitive spending spree of recent years. That buying splurge has seen 59 takeovers adding 3,000 products to the Oracle family.

The reason for this portfolio expansion is a desire to ship customers 'the whole car', not parts of a car that they then had to assemble in their garage, said Catz. "We can't send a complete car unless we have all the pieces," she said. "We are making sure we have the parts to send you a complete solution so you don't have to do it on site. The pieces matter, but fitting it together is where all the value is.

"If consumers bought cars like most enterprise users have bought technology, they would have to order thousands of little pieces, have them shipped individually to their garages, then have to hire a mechanic and welder to assemble it," she said. "Then, just as you are ready to pull out of the driveway, a warning light would go on for a patch or an upgrade. The only good thing would be that it would be green, because you would never get it out of the garage."

But changing this state of affairs meant changing the mindset of vendors such as Oracle, she said.

"We realised most of the hard work is with you, the customer. Us and all the other software vendors were sending you little pieces of technology all these years, and it was at your site that you had to make it all work together," she said. "What we thought was this didn't make sense. Long-term, companies like us had to take more responsibility to make it work together. We want to make sure that for those of you who want software already integrated, we provide that for you."

As part of this integration theme, the firm also announced Application Integration Architecture 2.5, a new release of its integration technology for linking Oracle applications with other Oracle software and with applications from other vendors, most notably arch rival SAP.

Oracle AIA is made up of process integration packs (PIPs), essentially adapters for connecting operational applications. AIA now supports applications in the utilities, retail, health sciences and manufacturing industries.

Phillips added that the pursuit of the complete 'car' was driving the firm's acquisition strategy.

"That is what all those acquisitions have been about - so we can send you a complete car," he said. "We have 20,000 developers working year round to integrate acquired products. We do what we have always done: make the products better. After 59 acquisitions, we think we have a track record of doing this."

But he insisted that the firm did not simply buy its way to greater market share, noting that Oracle has an annual R&D budget of $3bn and more than 20,000 developers, a figure that will be increased assuming the firm's takoever of Sun Microsystems is approved. According to Phillips, much of that R&D budget goes on providing enhancements requested by customers.

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