Oracle has acquired Opower, provider of cloud and big data solutions to global utility companies such as PG&E, Excelon and National Grid, for roughly $532M or $10.30 per share. Opower stores data from meter readings of over 60 million end customers of utility companies and subsequently analyzes those meter readings to help utility companies achieve regulatory compliance, optimize performance, decrease costs and improve the customer experience more generally. Opower will join Oracle Utilities in a union that marks one of the industry’s largest provider of cloud and big data solutions to utility vendors. The transaction is expected to be finalized in 2016 and comes head on the heels of last week’s purchase of Textura, provider of cloud-based contract and payment services for the construction industry, for $663M.
Oracle and Ravello have entered into an agreement whereby Ravello will be acquired by Oracle as noted in a February 22 blog post by Rami Tamir, CEO of Ravello Systems (Ravello). The Ravello team will become part of the Oracle Public Cloud group and Ravello’s technology will be integrated into the Oracle Cloud. Ravello’s proprietary, nested HVX hypervisor allows customers to replicate application infrastructures within public clouds in conjunction with a rich visual interface used for creating a blueprint of an application and its constituent parameters. As a result, Ravello customers can migrate applications to public clouds without costly re-architectures through a simple, drag and drop user interface. The acquisition of Ravello by Oracle represents a huge coup for the Oracle Public Cloud given the uniqueness of Ravello’s nested virtualization technology as an enabling tool for migrating workloads to the public cloud for dev and test use cases, disaster recovery, production usage or even or security, penetration and malware testing. By acquiring Ravello Sytems, Oracle promises to integrate cloud portability into its product offerings and subsequently differentiate itself from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and the Google Public Cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but VentureBeat claims that Oracle paid $500M for Ravello Systems.
Oracle has pledged to hire 450 cloud computing sales professionals in Dublin, Ireland. Oracle’s decision to hire cloud sales staff in Ireland is part of a broader initiative to hire 1400 cloud salespersons in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), with a focus on Amsterdam, Cairo, Dubai, Malaga (Spain) and Prague. The decision to hire 450 of the 1400 hires in Dublin underscores Oracle’s understanding of Dublin as an emerging technology hub bursting with organizations interested in transitioning to the cloud and the attendant talent required to execute the cloud transformation. By hiring 450 sales professionals in Dublin, Oracle brings the total count of its employees in Dublin to over 1800. Meanwhile, the broader decision to hire 1400 cloud sales professionals in the EMEA region illustrates the global quality of the cloud computing revolution and the corresponding intensity of Oracle’s interest in defining and shaping the global transition to the cloud in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
In late December, Oracle announced its intention to acquire digital marketing leader Datalogix. Datalogix specializes in understanding the relationship between digital marketing and offline purchases by leveraging its partnerships with over 1500 data partners who provide data about the purchasing patterns of roughly 110 million households. Headquartered in Westminister, CO, Datalogix boasts 650 customers including “82 of the top 100 US advertisers” such as Ford, Kraft, Facebook and Twitter. Datalogix aggregates data from its customers to enable digital marketers to personalize content to consumers across a variety of online channels. By acquiring Datalogix and integrating it into the Oracle Cloud, Oracle hopes to obtain an even more comprehensive picture about the online and offline activities of consumers that it can subsequently sell to advertisers and interested parties as illustrated below:
The graphic above illustrates how the acquisition of Datalogix complements Oracle’s larger data as a service platform. Datalogix provides the feather in Oracle’s cap with respect to cloud-based digital marketing by enhancing the data management capabilities of its 2014 acquisition BlueKai as well as the marketing automation functionality of its acquisitions of Eloqua and Responsys in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The acquisition of Datalogix augments Oracle’s analytics capabilities regarding offline and online consumer behavior and enables it to deliver an offering that allows customers to target, personalize and measure the results of marketing campaigns as noted above. Importantly, Datalogix positions Oracle to provide advertisers with the holy grail of data-driven marketing in the form of a master consumer identifier that maps to daily transactional data about brick and mortar consumer purchases as well as online social behavior such as social media-related actions and purchasing activities. In terms of its larger cloud strategy, the Datalogix acquisition catapults Oracle’s positioning within the cloud-based marketing space and gives it access to a trove of data that it can leverage for other products as well. All told, Oracle’s acquisition of Datalogix represents the icing on the cake for Oracle’s marketing-related acquisitions and a key addition to the Oracle Cloud as it gears up to continue asserting its presence in the market for cloud computing products and services.
Larry Ellison resigned on Thursday as CEO of Oracle after a 37 year stint as the head of the company that he founded in 1977. Ellison, 70, will be replaced by CEO Mark Hurd and CEO Safra Catz. Hurd will take responsibility for sales and marketing whereas Catz will run finance, legal and manufacturing. Meanwhile, Oracle’s Board of Directors elected Ellison Executive Chairman of the Board and CTO. Jeff Henley will serve as Vice Chairman of the Board after serving as Chairman for the last ten years. The reconfigured leadership structure preserves the triumvirate of Ellison, Hurd and Catz but creates an uncommon scenario whereby the company has two CEOs. Ellison leaves Oracle after leading the company to a staggering $185 billion valuation and acquiring a personal net worth of $51 billion as reported in Forbes. Given that software, hardware and engineering will continue to be under Ellison’s purview, the implications for Oracle’s cloud and big data strategy are likely to be minimal.
Oracle Board’s Presiding Director, Dr. Michael Boskin, commented on Ellison’s decision to step down as CEO as follows:
Larry has made it very clear that he wants to keep working full time and focus his energy on product engineering, technology development and strategy. Safra and Mark are exceptional executives who have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to lead, manage and grow the company. The Directors are thrilled that the best senior executive team in the industry will continue to move the company forward into a bright future.
Ellison’s continued influence and responsibility over technology strategy suggests that the decision may well have been motivated by a desire to retain the talent of Safra and Hurd in order to pre-empt lateral moves they might have considered making in the industry. In 2008, Ellison famously compared cloud computing to a fad that would pass and termed it “complete gibberish,” claiming that the “computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-drive than women’s fashion.” Since then, however, Ellison has completely reversed his position and embraced a number of cloud-based acquisitions and product roll-outs. That said, Oracle still has the cash to make a major cloud infrastructure acquisition analogous to Cisco’s acquisition of Metacloud or HP’s purchase of Eucalyptus, although this is something we still might see given Oracle’s enviable cash position.
Oracle recently announced that it will become a corporate sponsor of the OpenStack Foundation, and that it will achieve OpenStack compatibility with the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Oracle Compute Cloud Service and Oracle Storage Cloud Service, as well as integrate OpenStack’s cloud management tools into Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux and Oracle VM, Oracle Infrastructure as a Service, Oracle’s ZS3 Series, Axiom storage systems and StorageTek tape systems. On one hand, this announcement constitutes the most explicit affirmation to date from Oracle about its commitment to OpenStack compatibility, its acquisition of Nimbula and proleptic statements about its integration with the Oracle Cloud aside and notwithstanding. On the other hand, a large part of the announcement means that OpenStack customers will be able to take advantage of OpenStack’s “cloud management components” to manage the Oracle cloud, while the current state and timeline for the Oracle Cloud’s achievement of OpenStack compatibility remains unknown. That Oracle is allowing OpenStack management tools to manage what is currently a proprietary cloud platform is hardly a coup for OpenStack. Moreover, the announcement in Oracle’s press release that the company “will also be working to achieve OpenStack compatibility” discloses little in the way of specifics either regarding timeframe or what compatibility means for Oracle. According to The Register, Oracle has committed zero lines of code to the OpenStack project to date in contrast to the thousands of lines of code contributed by HP and Rackspace. All in all, the OpenStack community would do well to be less than celebratory about Oracle’s announcement. Oracle’s reported commitment to the project of achieving OpenStack compatibility may be great news for OpenStack’s PR machine, but the specific ramifications of Oracle’s embrace of OpenStack remain to be seen.
A recent article by the Synergy Research Group (Synergy) claims that Amazon Web Services continues to dominate the IaaS and PaaS space in terms of revenue. According to Synergy, Amazon Web Services increased its quarterly revenue by 55% to over $700M in Q3 of 2013, whereas the aggregate of revenue for Salesforce, IBM, Windows Azure and Google was less than $400M for the same time period. Worldwide, total IaaS and PaaS revenues exceeded $2.5 billion for the quarter, with IaaS accounting for 64% of cloud revenues, a surprisingly small proportion given the limited penetration of platform as a service within the enterprise. Synergy Research’s John Dinsdale remarked on the company’s findings as follows:
We’ve been analyzing the IaaS/PaaS markets for quite a few quarters now and creating these leadership metrics, and the relative positioning of the leaders really hasn’t changed much. While Amazon dwarfs all competition, the race is on to see if any of the big four followers can distance themselves from their peers. The good news for these companies and for the long tail of operators with relatively small cloud infrastructure service operations, is that IaaS/PaaS will be growing strongly long into the future, providing plenty of opportunity for robust revenue growth.
Here, Dinsdale remarks that the “race is on to see if” Salesforce, IBM, Microsoft and Google can decisively secure second place in the battle for IaaS/PaaS market share. Strikingly, Microsoft, Google and IBM have revenues that are very close to one another, even though one might reasonably expect Microsoft’s Azure platform to edge out its competition given its earlier entry into the market than IBM and Google’s Compute Engine (GCE). That said, IBM’s sizeable IaaS revenue derives largely from its acquisition of SoftLayer, which itself had a rich and venerable history that predated IBM.
Synergy’s chart illustrating Q3 IaaS and PaaS revenues is given below:
Notable omissions from the findings include Rackspace, HP, Oracle, Pivotal One and Red Hat, the middle three of which (HP, Oracle and Pivotal One) are still relatively nascent, and hence justifiably excluded from the present calculation. As Dinsdale notes above, however, “the good news for these companies” and for remainder of the space is that revenues are set to increase significantly in the near term. Going forward, one of the key questions for subsequent IaaS market share analyses will be whether OpenStack’s momentum and gradual maturation propels disproportionate growth amongst OpenStack-based cloud platforms for vendors such as HP, IBM, Oracle, Rackspace and Red Hat.