Though Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd's title may have changed recently, his job running the company's sales and support operations really hasn't. But he does have a whole lot more to sell and support these days, and it's all in the cloud.
Oracle is using the occasion of its annual OpenWorld conference to rev up the hype around its cloud strategy, which spans from SaaS (software as a service) to PaaS (platform as a service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a service). Hurd spoke to to us briefly before the event.
Do you feel any different now that you're co-CEO, after Larry Ellison recently took the title of CTO and executive chairman?
Hurd: I feel fine. I feel great about Oracle's strategy and our products. We just need to execute our strategy. Ellison is not leaving. We don't have that issue. We're the only company with a full suite of SaaS applications. In addition to the suite, each application is best of breed.
What about PaaS and IaaS? Why would a customer want to go to Oracle for all three levels of the cloud stack?
Hurd: I think it's about the intellectual property. We bring to market what Oracle customers actually use in production on-premises. I think it's difficult for a customer to say, I'm going to build something in the cloud and then convert that to another set of technologies. There are no conversions to do after you've built it. For PaaS, the real attractive part of the market is in development and testing.
Ellison has said Oracle will be price-competitive with Amazon Web Services and others on IaaS. How do you see this business shaping up for Oracle?
Hurd: As an ISV [independent software vendor], with our cloud theoretically you could operate almost asset-free. You can dramatically lower your cost. Take a new startup who goes to an Amazon Web Services and uses something like Ruby. Many times, the issue with small SaaS companies is their inability to scale. They built it on the cheap. Now you've got the opportunity to use the best technologies in the world. We think it's a play across the ecosystem from the startup to more mature ISVs.
A big goal for Oracle and its rivals is moving core ERP [enterprise-resource-planning] software to the cloud. You have some initial success with Fusion ERP there. But how long will it be before Fusion ERP is a fully functional replacement for say, an on-premises E-Business Suite?
Hurd: Today, in service industries we can go do a full ERP today. Release by release, we're going to get much more feature-rich. In the US, midmarket has been very robust for us. Going to have hundreds live over the next several months. From a competitive landscape, in this app we are way ahead of the competition.