Larry Ellison: Oracle's Cloud Infrastructure Gives Its Cloud Software Massive Advantage

In a rare moment of emotion, Oracle's Executive Chairman also choked up in wishing his friend, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, a speedy recovery from the illness which forced him to step away from the company.


Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison offered a sweeping overview of the cloud software industry Wednesday, arguing his competitors can't hope to keep up with Oracle's pace and proficiency in developing applications.

While some got worse rhetorical treatment than others, Ellison said Workday, SAP, and Salesforce are all at a disadvantage because, unlike Oracle, they don’t have a base of IaaS to build their SaaS on.

And unlike Salesforce, the two ERP challengers, Workday and SAP, also lack development environments that enable customers and partners to enhance their solutions, Ellison said in his final keynote of the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco

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The infrastructure cloud "is a fundamental difference between Oracle and all of our application competitors," Ellison said. Competing against AWS, Microsoft and Google ultimately helps Oracle differentiate its broad portfolio of business applications.

That underlying platform allows Oracle to innovate faster than competitors, building new products and adding features to the industry's largest suite of existing ones, at a breakneck pace.

"We really have the most complete suite of front office and back office, all of it written specific for the cloud," he said. And Oracle is "investing very heavily in building new applications, building new technologies to enhance those applications."

Oracle now has 30,000 customers using its suite of cloud applications. And 25,000 customers are running Oracle ERP systems in the cloud on Fusion and other platforms. Workday, the closest challenger, has a few hundred ERP customers, Ellison said.

Ellison gave Salesforce credit for having built its applications from the ground-up for the cloud.

NetSuite, now an Oracle company, did the same thing, he said.

But unlike Salesforce, NetSuite is re-platforming to Oracle's second-generation cloud, and removing multi-tenant functionality to make its applications more secure. NetSuite will use the multi-tenant capabilities of the underlying database instead, he said. "It's a big deal."

Workday, for all the limitations Ellison attributes to that company, is still "way better than SAP, which somehow forgot to rewrite applications for the cloud," he said.

SAP is trying to convince customers to replace Oracle databases with its HANA technology, but has not updated the actual applications built on HANA for the cloud era, Ellison said.

"It’s the same old code. Nothing's been rewritten … They don’t have cloud ERP applications, and they certainly don’t have a cloud platform," Ellison said. "Thank you SAP for doing that actually."

The last hour of Ellison's keynote became a highly granular rundown of new features across products. He took deep dives into the minutia of topics such as process manufacturing and shared how those systems were being enhanced with advanced analytics, machine learning-powered digital assistants, and other emerging technologies.

But earlier on in the workmanlike presentation, Ellison was silenced by a moment of emotion.

"I would just like to take a moment and say how much I miss Mark Hurd personally," he said of Oracle's CEO, who a week earlier said he would step away from the company to focus on treating an illness.

"We worked together for a long time. I love him and I wish him a speedy recovery."

Ellison visibly struggled to move on.

"I don't have so many friends that I can afford to lose any," Ellison told the OpenWorld crowd.