Oracle Goes All In On Cloud

I recently attended Oracle OpenWorld for the first time in several years. The message at this year’s event was clear: Oracle is all in on the cloud. I had heard the message, but I didn’t get the full impact until I arrived at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. All signage at the event contained the word “cloud,” and Oracle issued 18 press releases in conjunction with OpenWorld related to cloud computing. I also found out that Oracle has its own definition of “cloud.”

Oracle now offers cloud services ranging from infrastructure as a service, which competes with Amazon Web Services, to database as a service to big data as a service to analytics as a service. These are in addition to Oracle applications offered in software-as-a-service configurations. Some years ago Larry Ellison expressed public resistance to “cloud computing”, but since then Oracle has been steadily investing in, adopting and now fully embracing it. Oracle’s direction reflects what our benchmark research has been showing for years: Cloud computing is being adopted ever more widely. For example, our Data and Analytics in the Cloud research shows that nearly half (48%) of organizations use cloud-based analytics today and virtually all (99%) expect to use cloud-based analytics eventually. The research also shows that one in four (24%) have the majority of their data in the cloud today and 86 percent expect the majority of their data to be in the cloud eventually.

In the big data and analytics market, Oracle offers the following cloud services:

  • Oracle Exadata Cloud Service – massively parallel processing (MPP) SQL database
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service – business intelligence and visualization
  • Oracle Big Data Cloud Service – Cloudera Enterprise (Hadoop) and data integration
  • Oracle Data Visualization Cloud Service – self-service data visualization
  • Oracle Big Data Preparation Cloud Service – self-service data preparation
  • Oracle Big Data Discovery Cloud Service – data science with data preparation and visualization
  • Oracle GoldenGate Cloud Service – data replication and streaming data
  • Oracle NoSQL Database Cloud Service – key value store.

Oracle has also announced Oracle Essbase Cloud Service for multidimensional analysis and Oracle Big Data SQL Cloud Service for SQL on Hadoop and NoSQL. Oracle’s Big Data Compute Edition will allow organizations to scale Hadoop compute nodes and data nodes independently. All of these are indicated on the Oracle website as “coming soon.”

Faced with such a broad portfolio of big data and analytics capabilities, it may be a challenge for potential customers to understand the portfolio and decide which pieces are required for their organization. Fortunately, services based in the cloud are easier to try since no installation is required and subscription-based licensing doesn’t require long-term commitments to products.

Part of Oracle’s value proposition, based on its long devotion to the old model of on-premises licensing and management, is a mixture of cloud and on-premises deployments, often referred to as hybrid cloud. Oracle’s cloud services are available in three vr_dac_24_data_integration_between_systemsconfigurations: as a public cloud service subscription; as a managed private cloud service subscription managed by Oracle in the customer’s data center; and licensed as an on-premises deployment managed by the customer. Oracle is betting that this flexibility with be attractive to enterprises as they make their journey to the cloud. Amazon, the key cloud competitor highlighted in Oracle’s keynotes, does not offer on-premises or hybrid configurations. Our research finds that nearly half (47%) [DAC Q24] of organizations support integration of cloud-based data with on-premises data and 38 percent vice versa, suggesting a significant presence of hybrid deployments.

We should note that most of Oracle’s big data and analytic cloud services are not new. In fact, most of Oracle’s portfolio competes with other products that have been in the market for years. Its strength is to excel at making products enterprise-ready. Others may find new and innovative ways to tackle computing challenges, but as these innovations take root in the market, Oracle adopts them, hardens them and makes them available for critical applications. It also adds innovations around the edges, but fundamentally Oracle makes these capabilities industrial-strength for dealing with issues such as security, reliability, manageability and governance – necessities that are often overlooked as new products come to market. If your organization needs to support mission-critical big data and analytics, I recommend you consider Oracle’s offerings. They have the breadth and depth to meet most needs.


David Menninger

SVP & Research Director

Follow Me on Twitter @dmenningerVR and Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Processes and Software Make Long-Term Planning and Investing More Effective

Effective capital planning and capital investment are vital to a company’s long-term success. The choices a company makes in this regard – how much to invest and in which facilities or projects – almost always have a profound impact on its competitiveness and performance. Because they have limited financial resources, well-managed companies take pains to ensure that these decisions support their long-term strategies and are made as rationally as possible. To do this they must have a disciplined approach to assigning priorities to capital investments within the context of the company’s specific strategy and objectives, as well as the ability to easily identify and eliminate unnecessary projects or excessive spending. And since business environments are dynamic, companies must also continually review their investment portfolios to assess their performance to plan and their strategic value while they also consider new investments to support and expand the existing long-term portfolio.

Some aspects of planning are easier to handle than others. For example, large majorities of companies in our Office of Finance benchmark research said that they handle the basic functions of accounting (83%) and external financial reporting (78%) well or very well. In contrast only half (49%) said that they perform strategic and long-range planning well or very well. One reason for the discrepancy may be the tools that they use. Almost all (91%) companies said they use spreadsheets to manage their long-term planning and investment processes. Spreadsheets arevr_office_of_finance_23_finance_department_capabilities the wrong choice for any repetitive, collaborative company-wide processes such as strategic and long-term planning. For example, tracking and revising projects and major company initiatives over time in desktop spreadsheets is time-consuming because they lack capabilities designed for these purposes, such as the ability to manage projects as a set of resources and activities along a time dimension. With such capabilities planners are able to see quickly the financial and operational impact of delaying or accelerating a capital project. Unlike spreadsheets, software dedicated to planning often includes built-in analytics and visualizations that help executives formulate plans and assess performance. Spreadsheets don’t make it impossible for companies to plan and manage strategic and long-range projects and investments, but doing that is so time-consuming organizations may not have time to do more valuable work – for example, comparing the impacts of different economic or business scenarios on a set of investment alternatives, or performing side-by-side assessments of existing project portfolios. Dedicated software can enable a company to gain agility in adapting its portfolio of projects and investments. By shortening planning and review cycles and being able to examine the impact of different scenarios on the fly, decision-makers can do more frequent in-depth reviews and reassessments of investment performance or priorities.

Dedicated planning software also can improve executives’ ability to do long-range planning to ensure they have the right strategy to succeed in the markets they serve and the right assets to support their strategic objectives. To achieve those goals they must allocate investments in those assets as optimally as feasible and possess sufficient resources (both financial and other, such as personnel with the appropriate skills) to support those investments. These are the key activities in the long-range planning process:

  • Establish the best strategic course based on a company’s current market position, its resources, the competitive landscape and external factors such as economic and demographic trends, the legal and regulatory environment and technology trends.
  • Determine the assets required to support the company’s strategy throughout the planning period.
  • Identify the ongoing operating activities, such as research and development projects or brand advertising, needed to support the strategy.
  • Ensure that there is adequate funding to support investments and ongoing operating activities over the planning period.
  • Ascertain that the capital structure is adequate and optimized to support the needed investment.

Companies face multiple challenges in managing their long-term planning processes. These include:

  • Determining the appropriate methods for assessing plans and their constituent investments
  • Achieving alignment between company strategy and the long-range plans of the constituent parts
  • Ensuring consistency in the preparation of long-range plans across the organization
  • Optimizing investment decisions consistent with long-term strategy
  • Maximizing the productivity of the long-range planning process, which means minimizing the amount of time required to execute the purely mechanical aspects (acquiring data, validating it, creating, maintaining and running the appropriate analytical model) to enable more time to be spent on the analytical and assessment aspects
  • Performing comprehensive what-if scenario planning
  • Reducing cycle times to allow for a more nimble process.

In capital spending decisions, project champions must make a convincing case that an investment is not only worthwhile in itself but also better than alternatives. Strangely, though, once a capital project is approved, few if any companies assess whether the projected returns were ever realized. In the decades that I have been asking this question, I have yet to find a single company that does any post-investment measurement of specific projects. As a rational numbers guy, I’ve long wondered why. One reason might be that, acknowledged or not, optimizing capital investments is not one of the main objectives of the capital spending decision-making process. Rather, it’s simply to separate the obviously bad ideas from the rest. Applying a methodology to quantify potential returns from a capital project is bound to expose most of those that have limited potential, faulty assumptions or too much risk. Yet I think this approach sets a very low bar. Having a more rigorous post-investment analytical process would enable companies to do a more effective job of allocating resources by seeing where they have wasted them before. Dedicated software can facilitate these sorts of reviews and enable companies to adjust their planned investments when business conditions and results dictate the need for changes.

Ultimately, the success of a company’s long-range planning and investment process can be measured over time in its gross return on assets relative to its competitors’ and, if it is publicly traded, partly by the company’s share price. A gross rather than net asset approach is useful because it reduces accounting distortions in cases where companies may have written off poor investments or used different reported depreciation approaches for similar asset classes.

Companies – even small businesses – should use a rigorous long-term planning and capital spending discipline to ensure that they successfully manage for the long term. Companies that already have such a process in place should re-examine it regularly to determine where it is falling short or failing to identify the right path and the appropriate investments for their strategic direction. Executives should recognize that using desktop spreadsheets to support their strategic and long-range planning processes prevents them from doing these things and support investment in more capable tools designed for the tasks.


Robert Kugel

Senior Vice President Research

Follow Me on Twitter @rdkugelVR and

Connect with me on LinkedIn.