Oracle Cloud Strategy Fail

Oracle rose to database dominance by making their software freely available. Anybody can download a $100K+ enterprise edition database and use it for personal learning as long as he likes.

The Oracle Cloud offerings, on the other hand, are strictly limited. You need to provide both a mobile phone number and a credit card number in order to get a miserly 30-day trial. Once you’ve spent your 30 days, you’ve used the one chance you get in this lifetime to learn Oracle’s 50+ cloud offerings.

reality_distortion

Contrast this with the approach taken by Amazon: A free tier without time limitation, and a generous 12-month trial for many of the other services. They took a page from Oracle’s playbook, offered free access and became dominant in the cloud space.

Oracle defends their stinginess by saying that it’s too expensive for them to offer free trials. And apparently, they believe they don’t need to offer good trials because their cloud is faster and cheaper.

Unfortunately, the ability of Larry Ellison to distort reality is limited. Oracle has a negligible market share in IaaS and PaaS and since they won’t invest a smidgen of their $60 billion cash hoard in better trials, they are likely to remain a bit player in this space.

I’ve used my own phone number and credit card, and my wife’s phone number and credit card, so I’m now out of options for learning more about the Oracle cloud. But I’m learning AWS.

 

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Oracle Critical Patch Update

Oracle has released the latest quarterly critical patch update (CPU). The database gets off lightly this time with two moderate severity vulnerabilities in SQL*Plus and the Oracle JVM. On the other hand, Oracle Secure Backup is not very secure with a bug that can be remotely exploited without authentication. Bad.

The Fusion Middleware stack gets 31 fixes, of which 20 are in the bad group of remotely exploitable without authentication. There is a lot of WebCenter stuff as well as some WebLogic and little Oracle Service Bus. Read the notes and update your environments.

Almost all of the Oracle applications (E-Business Suite, Siebel, J.D. Edwards) are also vulnerable, many through the critical Apache Struts 2 vulnerability (CVE-2017-5638). Oracle has fixed everything related to this Struts 2 bug in this CPU, but if you are running anything else based on Struts 2, make sure you update to a non-vulnerable version.

Why Does Oracle Exist?

At an Oracle Partner event this week in Croatia, I got the latest updates on Oracle’s products. And it hit me that nobody, not even Oracle, understands why the company exists.

I looked at their website but was unable to find a mission statement or discern any coherent vision. It seems Oracle exists simply because it does.

Back in their database days, they wanted to manage all the world’s information. But in their current incarnation, their vision more cloudy than cloud.

Why on earth does an enterprise software company like Oracle dabble in chatbots? Why are they building an IFTTT clone? Why are they running “Oracle Code” events and talking about everything but Oracle software? Why are they coming from a sub-one-percent IaaS market share and announce their intention to rule the IaaS world?

What Oracle should do is:

  • Build on their strength in SaaS. I believe they are on track to living up to Mark Hurd’s vision of being one of the two SaaS vendors  with 80% of the market (and no, SAP won’t be the other one)
  • Provide PaaS trials limited in power, but not in time. Nobody can figure out how to use Oracle PaaS offerings in meager 30-day trials
  • Concentrate on real differentiators like Application Builder Cloud Service (and stop trying to provide their version of every cloud service in the universe).

Oracle is a great software engineering company. I hope they figure out why they exist.

Oracle Stock Rises on Cloud Surprise

Stockbrokers were taken by surprise by Oracle’s Cloud revenue when Oracle announced quarterly results last week, and Oracle stock duly jumped by seven percent. It has fallen back somewhat since but is still up three percent.

ORCL

(source: Yahoo Finance)

Oracle Cloud revenue is up by 63% and now makes up 13% of Oracle’s $9.3 billion quarterly revenue. It is not clear how much of this is the “cloud credits” that is reportedly bundled into renewal and new on-premise deals. It will be interesting to see if customers find a good use for these credits and will buy more once they are used up.

As an ERP and database company, it would make the most sense for Oracle to push their strong SaaS and PaaS offerings. SaaS and PaaS currently make up 85% of Oracle cloud revenue, but they have decided to try to muscle into the already-crowded market for commodity computing services. With $195 million of IaaS revenue, it doesn’t make much sense for Oracle to try to catch up to Amazon’s $3.5 billion.

Trying to Make Oracle Cool

Oracle currently hosting a series of Oracle Code events across the world, today in New York. You’d expect an event with this name would focus on Oracle tools, but no. Oracle instead decided to throw together presentations on every buzzword they could think of. So if you attend an Oracle Code event, you can hear about Node.JS, DevOps, microservices, Agile, Docker, Spark, JSON, Chatbots, and Kafka.

This is like Sears or Macy’s sponsoring a snowboarding competition. The hip crowd might show up, but they won’t shop at the department store afterward.

Oracle has powerful, productive, mature tools like APEX and ADF, as well as new and interesting things like Oracle JET and Application Builder Cloud Service (ABCS). But they decided to spend this year’s developer outreach budget on events almost completely unrelated to Oracle technology. Not a smart move.

As an Oracle developer, don’t this marketing misstep get you down. Oracle has great development tools, even if they don’t talk about them. And hey, today’s Oracle Code event in New York even has a session on SQL and PL/SQL by Peter Koletzke. There is hope.

 

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Oracle PaaS Partner Community Forum 2017

In two weeks, I’m off to Croatia for the Oracle PaaS Partner Community Forum. The agenda covers a lot of the Oracle PaaS cloud services:

  • SOA Cloud Service
  • Integration Cloud Service
  • API Cloud Service
  • Java Cloud Service
  • Application Builder Cloud Service
  • Developer Cloud Service
  • Application Container Cloud Service

I’m looking forward to seeing the latest improvements to the Oracle Cloud services and hearing from my fellow ACE Directors who have actually used them.

This event is free for Oracle partners who are members of one of the EMEA Oracle partner communities. The conference runs from March 27 to March 29 with optional hands-on workshops on March 30 and 31. There might still be spaces left – check the registration page at http://tinyurl.com/paasForum2017.

If you can’t make it to Croatia, and you have a burning question about Oracle PaaS Cloud services, feel free to comment and I’ll try to have your question answered by one of the knowledgeable presenters there.

Why you don’t want to become an Oracle SOA developer

My answer on Quora to a Java developer looking to become an Oracle SOA developer:

You don’t want to become an Oracle SOA developer, for two reasons: SOA and Oracle.

First, Service-Oriented Architecture has over-promised and under-delivered for a decade. The only reason SOA is still around is that many big enterprises has invested millions of dollars and are unwilling to admit that SOA was a mistake. It takes skilled architects, care and attention to realize the benefits SOA promised, and most organizations didn’t have that.

Second, Oracle is focusing on their cloud products, and the future of on-premise SOA is uncertain. All new features are rolled out in cloud services first and then, maybe, eventually, in the on-premise products.

Instead, learn micro service architecture and the associated technologies. Modern application landscapes are too complex for centralized SOA architectures, but micro services can be rolled out and integrated with the speed modern organizations need.

If you want to stay close to the old Oracle SOA world, look at Integration Cloud Service and Process Cloud Service. That’s where exciting development is happening in the Oracle world.

Link to Quora: Path to becoming an Oracle SOA developer. Already hava Java OCA. Whats next?

How does MariaDB compare to Oracle?

My answer on Quora to “How does MariaDB compare to Oracle?”

Nobody uses MariaDB, don’t go there. You should compare MySQL to Oracle instead.

MariaDB is a fork of MySQL created by the original MySQL developers. They had cashed out and sold MySQL but hated the idea that Oracle bought their baby. According to DB-Engines Ranking, MariaDB is at place 20 with a popularity score of 45. MySQL is in second spot with a 1380 score, only a whisker behind Oracle at 1404.

Comparing Oracle and MySQL:

  • Oracle has every feature you can dream of, including a powerful proprietary programming language, and scales up to ridiculous sizes and speeds. If you need some of that, it’s worth the high cost
  • MySQL has every feature a normal developer needs in a database, and even the free community edition will meet most needs.

How does MariaDB compare to Oracle?

Losing Hearts and Minds

Oracle has never been a developer-friendly company. Historically, they have produced brilliant technology, made it freely available, and let it be up to the developers to figure out how to use it.

That strategy is failing today, for three reasons:

  1. Oracle is no longer indispensable. Open source offerings now provide what only a large company like Oracle could manage a decade ago.
  2. Poor access to cloud services. Much software is cloud-based, and Oracle only offers short, poorly-managed trials to developers used to unlimited access on-premise.
  3. Oracle is one of the most-hated IT companies. Their business practices, including aggressive license reviews and lawsuits, means that CIOs are trying to replace their software and developers seek to avoid them.

They are starting a developer initiative with a new blog, a new website, and a series of Oracle Code events, but it seems rather half-hearted. Little has happened since the initiative was announced at OpenWorld six months ago, and Oracle has cut the funding to their technology evangelist program.

I’ve been a loyal Oracle developer for decades, but I’m afraid Oracle has lost the hearts and minds of developers. My son is finishing his B.Sc. in IT and wouldn’t dream of using Oracle tools. If you are an Oracle developer with more than 10 years until retirement, I advise you to start planning for your time after Oracle.

How’s Oracle’s performance, both on financial and strategic parameters?

My answer on Quora to “How is Oracle’s financial and strategic performance?”

Answer by Sten Vesterli:

Stable.

Financially, they have hit pretty close to their targets and their stock has been steady around 40 for the last year. Oracle has been working hard to increase the share of revenue from cloud services, including bundling on-premise deals with a lot of “cloud credits” they can count as cloud revenue. Since they haven’t had significant cloud business until recently, everybody is waiting to see if customers will renew.

Strategically, they are using their massive cash hoard and strong cash flow from existing customers to increase their cloud offerings, both by rolling out new services and by buying cloud providers like NetSuite. In vendor comparisons, Oracle’s cloud offerings are currently way behind the market leaders. But they have a strong commitment and strong financial resources, so they might eventually become a significant cloud player.

How’s Oracle’s performance, both on financial and strategic parameters?