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Oracle OpenWorld: What Enterprise IT Wants

What's coming at Oracle's big confab next week--and what does enterprise IT really want? Our editors square off on Mark Hurd's plans.
Oracle And Vertical Industries

During Oracle's most recent earnings call, the company was bullish on its prospects across vertical industries, particularly calling out government and financial services. Even though both sectors are seeing troubled times, Oracle believes there is a tremendous opportunity for its products, and has forecast growth. Here's what our editors say about Oracle and verticals.

Greg MacSweeney, Editorial Director, InformationWeek Financial Services: In the financial services space, Oracle's messaging has been focused on the new regulatory landscape and how financial institutions must be prepared to deliver transparency through better analysis of financial data. Exadata and Exalogic have been, of course, touted as the solutions to help banks meet these regulatory goals. But banks already have established and complicated data management, risk management and reporting structures in place, so what inroads is Oracle Exadata/Exalogic making in financial services?

Doug Henschen brings up a good point about the size of a Exadata deployments, which is certainly relevant here: Most banks have many terabytes of financial data, but so far we haven't heard of a big bank using Exadata for a big data deployment.

The other trend we are following in financial services--and one that will directly impact Oracle if the trend continue--is the increasing usage of non "enterprise" technologies by banks. Traditionally, banks have relied on enterprise technology from Oracle, EMC, SAP, and IBM, to name a few providers. But with the increasing availability of alternatives, many banks are actively pursuing open source-based solutions that do not have the dreaded vendor "lock in."

This is a big step for highly regulated banks, who until now have admittedly often preferred the security and regulatory "cover" provided by working with large enterprise vendors (as the saying goes, no one ever got fired for buying IBM). However, the cost and flexibility advantages provided by non-enterprise technology have become too great to ignore. How will Oracle and other enterprise software vendors respond to the financial industry's demand for more flexible, lower cost technology (without lock in)?

John Foley, Editor, InformationWeek Government: Oracle is giving its government customers a special, discounted rate ($1,795) to OpenWorld, but don't expect to see a lot of tech execs from the federal government at the show. On Sept. 21, Jack Lew, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, issued a memo to the heads of all federal agencies requiring them to cut back on "unnecessary" travel and conference expenses, as part of the White House's so-called Campaign to Cut Waste.

What are government CIOs to do? When Oracle is done packing its servers and other gear back into crates after OpenWorld, it will bring its show east. The fifth annual Oracle Federal Forum will be held Oct. 18 in Washington, D.C. Hurd, a featured speaker at the forum, says the feds need to modernize their IT systems while improving performance and bringing innovation to service delivery. That spells opportunity for Oracle, he says. The trick will be to find funding for those projects amid belt tightening in Washington.

Legend has it that, back in the '70's, the CIA was one of Oracle's first customers. There are still pockets of federal government, the defense and intelligence agencies in particular, where CIOs are willing to pay a premium for high-performing database systems. The U.S. spends about $80 billion on intelligence activities, which is over and above the $80 billion federal IT budget. That helps explain why Hurd will be making this trip.