Global CIO: Oracle Seeks New Whipping Boy As SAP Thrives - InformationWeek

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Commentary
12/16/2010
08:20 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Oracle Seeks New Whipping Boy As SAP Thrives

Why has Oracle stopped crowing about its competitive thrashings of SAP? Maybe Oracle's turned cuddly—but more likely, SAP's turned the competitive tables.

For five straight quarters extending from early 2009 through the middle of this year, Oracle executives used their quarterly earnings reports as bully pulpits from which to blast archrival SAP. But in its September financial press release and in the most-recent one it posted yesterday, Oracle didn't have offer so much as a whisper about SAP—what the heck's going on here?

Could it be that Oracle execs have suddenly become all cuddly and lovey-dovey? Has Larry Ellison experienced a kumbaya moment?

Could it be that Oracle, since it's no longer a software-only company, has shifted its strategic sights beyond SAP and toward IBM and HP, as noted in Global CIO: Larry Ellison Declares War On IBM And SAP and Global CIO: Larry Ellison Vows To 'Go After' HP; Is Alliance Dead??

Or could it simply be that SAP's own financial and market-facing resurgence has choked off the rich flow of kick-me material that SAP was providing under former CEO Leo' Apotheker and before new co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe took control of the company in February?

In a fascinating revelation, an analysis of market-facing made by Oracle executives over the past couple of years shows that two years ago, the company had its competitive energy focused on Salesforce.com; then one generic comment about beating competitors; then five straight quarters of SAP-bashing; and now, in the two most-recent quarterly announcements, Oracle has ignored SAP entirely and has been touting the major successes of its Exadata Database Machine.

To gain some insight into Oracle's strategic intentions, let's take a quick look at verbatim comments from Oracle execs made in the context of press releases announcing quarterly earnings over the last nine quarters:

Dec. 18, 2008: Market-facing comments target Salesforce.com and also mention Exadata for the first time: "We signed our largest on-demand sales force automation contract this quarter," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. "This was just one of several recent wins over Salesforce.com. We also sold our first database machine, launching an all new and important business for Oracle."

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March 18, 2009: Oracle talks about beating competitors but doesn't call out SAP by name: "If you look past the effect of exchange rates, our new software license revenues for this quarter were higher than our new software license revenues for Q3 of last year," said Oracle President Charles Phillips. "Achieving constant currency growth in new software license sales in this very challenging economy shows that we continue to beat our competitors in both technology and applications."

June 23, 2009: Oracle starts hammering at SAP as Apotheker takes over as the company's sole CEO:

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