Oracle’s Cloud Strategy: Is It the ‘Escape Velocity’?

When I was at the 2019 Oracle Open World conference (the most recent, pre-Covid), I had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people from across the globe. One interaction was with a pair of private-equity analysts from Germany, who asked me what was so interesting about Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) for partners. “Oracle has the best cloud strategy in the tech industry and let me tell you why,” I replied.

My point of view then, and still, has been cultivated through real-world experience, at one time having been part of two large organizations that dabbled in the cloud market: AT&T, one of the largest global telcos; and Cisco, one of the largest networking, security, and collaboration companies. Both organizations made their token billion-dollar press announcement about investing in building out the “world’s most unique” cloud platform with promises of ease of consumption, immense scale, and never-ending features. Both companies spent less than three years in the cloud game and exited gracefully to go back to focusing on what they do well.

From a shareholder-value perspective, the companies were investing in a product-to-service revenue transformation; from a customer perspective, the companies were promising to be more of a one-stop-shop provider in the explosive cloud-consumption economy. My observation in both instances is that tech giants can demonstrate their ability to invest, but that doesn’t always equal success. To win in a highly attractive and yet highly contested tech market, a business must have the right portfolio and the right go-to-market (GTM): customers need clear access to the offering and your brand needs to identify with the market.

So, how do I think about this reality in Oracle’s case, from a “right portfolio and right GTM” perspective? Fast forward to 2022, reflecting on tech vendors who are in the unique position to offer an IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS strategy that provides the perfect combination of consumption, functionality, and utility for core business functions. Well, the list gets very small, very quickly. And how many of those tech providers are in a position to provide the enterprise-application portfolio and data management technologies, with a multi-cloud strategy…to cover it all? Oracle.

Oracle’s M&A strategy over, say, the past 10 years indicates patterns that have really started to drive a valuation transformation of traditional product and support revenue streams into more predictable revenue streams commensurate with XaaS models. Oracle has proven to be the world’s most powerful, feature-rich, database (DB) technology on the planet, powering so many core and custom applications. As well, Oracle’s very own Autonomous Database platform and a cadre of technologies converted into PaaS offerings are the disruptive foundation for transforming the manner in which customers extract business value from complexity that they won’t ever have to manage. That’s pretty cool.

From a customer-access perspective, in all of my optimism about Oracle’s strategy on paper, there has been a healthy amount of skepticism about whether the company could pull it off and be taken seriously in the cloud market. I have also felt strongly that Oracle’s ability to execute within its partner ecosystem will absolutely be the key metric to success and this condition has seen its challenges over the years. Oracle’s installed base is a critical asset requiring qualified and competent partners to shepherd the right cloud transformation conversations to fend off the pack of cloud-provider wolves. As a top-tier Oracle Partner, what we’ve seen over the course of the past few years is a tectonic shift in how Oracle invests in partners to optimize access to its customer base. More goodness is ahead, yet if Oracle can bolster this key partner relationship, I truly believe it will disrupt the cloud-provider landscape entirely with great aplomb. No other provider can match the combined solution M&A strategy portfolio with vertically aligned solution partners…the veritable GTM.

From a brand-recognition perspective, I believe the same M&A strategy that’s reinvigorated Oracle’s portfolio has really helped shape the shift in how the company is viewed as a tech provider. Results include:

  • Application and SaaS stacks with feature-rich DB technologies;
  • ERP applications delivered in a SaaS model;
  • Vertical applications that solve unique industry problems;
  • AI and emerging technologies;
  • Identity-access technologies that drive single sign-on and federation points for user-access controls;
  • And, of course, cloud-based technologies that provide security features unique to distributed users and integration points; and
  • Cloud, platform management, and virtualization tools.

Come full-circle back to Oracle strength-of-position to capitalize on customer access, tech & app portfolio, and GTM, brand recognition to the market need, the company is in a strong position to grow shareholder value and create a market-disrupting customer destination for cloud-consumption. So, in reality, what we are now seeing in the marketplace is Oracle’s cloud platform taking on a wave of customers running Oracle and non-Oracle workloads. Very interesting…

I firmly believe that Oracle has had the benefit of learning from those who have come before it, but you can also very easily debate that the company was masterfully crafting a business model perfectly suited for XaaS revenue transformation for shareholders and the ultimate menu of choices for customers…perfectly suited not only to the Oracle technologies and application portfolio but to non-Oracle workloads as well.

Oracle on Oracle is a solid strategy and the measuring stick of success in the cloud game is starting to change. I also firmly believe that the company is on the cusp of disrupting the hyper-scaler cloud provider space as a whole…as a legit contender to be a cloud-of-choice for any workload.

The question I have now is, is this Oracle’s “escape velocity” moment?

Sift through the investor advice and think about it from a customer’s perspective.

[Barron’s article, Feb 19, 2022, “Oracle’s Next Quest”].

Data Intensity leads the market in managing complex Oracle workloads—for the full Oracle stack and the entire Oracle lifecycle—on any cloud, including Oracle Cloud.

Get in touch