Oracle - Looking Back to the Future

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Oracle Corporation today announced a new strategy of tighter development and more R&D to follow its newly-approved plans to acquire Sun Microsystems. The plan is to push into high-end data centers and cloud computing with packaged software and hardware from the combined companies.

Oracle executives spent more than five hours to roll out much-repeated themes of investment, consolidation, and pitches for resumes for prospective new employees.

One slide that appeared repeatedly was for new Oracle and Sun products that were "complete, open and integrated," and engineered to be "tested, certified, packaged, deployed, upgraded, managed and supported together."

Chairman Larry Ellison said Oracle would be hiring 2,000 new employees to doubly offset headcount cuts at Sun, and President Charles Phillips said Oracle's combined R&D spending would reach $4.3 billion in 2010, compared to $2.8 billion in 2009.

But it was Ellison as usual who took the spotlight at the end of the event and opened with a message that harked back a half century.

"Our vision for 2010 is the same as IBM's vision for the year 1960, which was to go ahead and deliver a comprehensive, integrated suite of technologies," Ellison said. "It's not like this hasn't been done before. This was done very successfully by IBM in the 1960s and that strategy made IBM the most important company in the history of the earth. We're going to adopt it."

He went on to say that, though much had happened in the last 50 years, having all the pieces build by a common set of collaborative engineers gives Oracle a "huge" advantage in the market. This, he said would be empowered by the Sparc chip, the Solaris operating system, Java, MySQL and other products in Sun's patent library along with Oracle products. Ellison said elements of encryption and compression could now be moved directly to the processor, that parts of the database will find its way into the operating system and that this will help run high-end systems run faster and be more fault tolerant at lower cost.

Despite the high-performance emphasis throughout the day, Ellison said Oracle would still be happy to sell its database and middleware for use on generic hardware. "We're in both businesses," Ellison said.

Ellison said he didn't get the big fuss over cloud computing and that the concept goes back to WWII ENIAC days, and that Oracle software or middleware is behind longstanding cloud-based services like Hotmail, iTunes and "We've been in cloud computing for at least 15 years," he said. "I'm sure the articles [will say] Larry Ellison just doesn't get it. But who cares? We'll continue to sell computers and databases and middleware, and that's all the cloud is."

Finally, Ellison offered some forward-looking financial thoughts to the audience of employees, partners, analysts and journalists. He said the company is hiring, not firing and that Sun would be grown to profitability rather than cut to it.

"We'll be profitable in February. Well be profitable in March. We'll be profitable in May, he said. "I mean the Sun business will be contributing to Oracle profits in the first full month we own the company. For the first full year we own the company starting in June we will make at least $1.5 billion in operating profit as we promised."

Oracle also announced that the top 4,000 Sun customers previously sold to and serviced by partners would now be supported directly by Oracle.

Oracle passed its last likely hurdle for the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems a week ago when European antitrust regulators gave their approval to the deal.

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