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Larry Ellison Is Needlessly Clouding Oracle's Cloud Message

Oracle's CEO should just talk honestly about what his company is doing, instead of putting on a show. Ellison the reasoned market leader is whom we'd like to hear from.

Oracle has some seriously significant things to say to its customers about the cloud, enterprise software, engineered systems, and the rest of its strategic portfolio. And if the company approached the task a little more seriously, it would start winning not just in the eyes and wallets of its customers, but also in the court of public opinion.

Instead, Oracle remains severely message-challenged by the way its CEO, Larry Ellison, puts out the company's message. Ellison manages to create a mess worthy of Newt Gingrich in the Republican primary campaign, turning what should be a discussion of facts and issues into an annoying sideshow, a mix of cheap (and factually off base) swipes at the competition, and some massively hyperbolic claims about the history of Oracle's cloud efforts and exactly how many cloud apps the company has.

Yes, Oracle is an undisputed leader in cloud apps, a position it earned through organic growth (Fusion Apps) and acquisitions, most recently ATG, Taleo, and RightNow. But that's apparently not enough.

At last week's unveiling of Oracle's cloud strategy, Ellison claimed that Oracle has 100 cloud apps, while trash-talking (incorrectly) competitors that he claimed have only recently acquired their way into the cloud or are allegedly saddled with the wrong technology. Ellison also revised Oracle's history by claiming that it started down the road to the cloud with the original Fusion project seven years ago, when that trip really started just two or three years ago.

I'm amazed at the 100 apps claim. I've been following Oracle as close as possible (which ain't easy--Oracle in recent years has been the undisputed leader in running a mediocre influencer program, though in recent months it has been trying to fix that problem), and I simply can't see where that number came from.

[ Want to read more from Josh Greenbaum on enterprise software vendors? Check out these stories. ]

Indeed, Ellison boasted that Oracle is eating its own dog food, running four of its own cloud apps. At that point, a familiar list appeared on the screen: Fusion Sales and Marketing, Fusion Financials, Fusion Talent Management, and Fusion CRM. (I couldn't help tweeting "Where are the other 96 apps?")

To its credit, at the end of last week, the aforementioned, clearly improving influencer team put Steve Miranda, senior VP of Oracle Fusion Applications development, on the phone to clear things up. Oracle, Steve explained, is counting each module of each application set as a separate app, even though Fusion Data Quality Address Cleansing couldn't begin to stand alone without the rest of the Fusion Data Management App.

In the end, Steve and I agreed to disagree on the nomenclature issue: Terminology is all over the map in this market, even, or especially, at Oracle. Indeed, at one point in a presentation Steve gave to industry analysts earlier this year he referred to "suites" of cloud apps (which would definitely open up the possibility that each suite contains multiple apps), while at another point in the same presentation he clearly refers to Oracle's seven Fusion Apps (Financials, CRM, GRC, HCM, Project, Procurement, SCM), using the designation for apps that most of us are familiar with.

Steve pointed out that Oracle doesn't have a monopoly on hyperbole. He's right: A great example comes from a recent Workday press release that claims the company supports customers in 219 countries. That's pretty hard to do: most online sources show a maximum of 193 countries in the world (and, I would imagine, quite a few of them, South Sudan, for instance, aren't exactly places cloud vendors would want to set up shop.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
6/13/2012 | 7:19:37 PM
re: Larry Ellison Is Needlessly Clouding Oracle's Cloud Message

Copied for wisegeeks-
ps I do agree with you on the Oracle Hyperbole though
While it would appear to be a rather simple matter to determine how many countries there are in the world, it is in fact quite complex. This is due not only to the ever-shifting political landscape, but also because the term Gă countriesGăÍ is somewhat fluid and open to interpretation.

A narrow definition of what a country is might look at a well-established group G㢠such as the United Nations G㢠and take its list of recognized members. In the case of the United Nations, there are 193 recognized states, with 192 being members of the United Nations, and the Vatican City, which is a permanent observer with all rights of a member, save voting rights.

One could also take an established definition for what a state is, and find all states which match those criteria. The most widely-accepted definition is given by the Montevideo Convention, from 1933. By these guidelines, a state must have a government, be in a position to interact with other states diplomatically, have a defined territory, and possess a permanent population. A rough count of these states would place the number of countries in the world at 201. That includes the 193 states recognized by the United Nations, as well as eight additional states. These are the Western Sahara, Taiwan, Northern Cyprus, Somaliland, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. These states meet the criteria set out by the Montevideo Convention, but are all in a struggle with another, larger state, for independence, and so far have not been formally recognized by the United Nations.

An even broader definition could include some states which have been recognized by a number of countries, but have either failed to establish a steady government, or have failed to receive recognition by enough fellow states to truly meet the criteria of the Montevideo Convention. By adding in states such as the Cook Islands, Palestine, or the Chechen Republic, one could get to a much greater number of countries in the world G㢠somewhere in the range of 210-230.

Going even broader, one can include countries that are part of a larger country, sometimes referred to as constituent countries. One obvious example of this would be the countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland G㢠all making up the single country of the United Kingdom. In most counts of the countries in the world, these four countries are counted as one, but they could easily be counted as four instead. By including these sorts of countries there could be many hundreds, if not thousands, of countries in the world G㢠especially if one were to start counting smaller states, such as California or Delaware in the United States, as independent in their own right.

Similarly, territories G㢠such as the territory of Guam, a possession of the United States G㢠are usually not counted in an official count, but are states by many criteria. These are referred to by the United Nations as Non-Self Governing Territories, and include an additional 16 territories.

So, how many countries are there in the world? 193 by the count of the United Nations. 193 also by the count of the United States Department of State. 201 by a tight interpretation of the Montevideo Conventions. Somewhere over 220 by a looser interpretation. And if we were to go by the number of countries that have their own domain suffix G㢠such as .us for the United States, or .de for Germany G㢠we would find 243. So there is no firm answer, but 193 is commonly accepted, and somewhere between 193 and 250 seems rather certain.

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