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Six questions raised by Oracle's Q2 earnings announcement

Exadata, cloud revenues and surprisingly strong European results make fodder for discussion

By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service
December 20, 2012 07:26 AM ET

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When asked by an analyst whether Oracle's on-premises software maintenance revenues will take a hit as cloud sales rise, Catz stood firm, saying the cloud is "just not going to have a material impact."

"Theoretically, [regular maintenance revenues] might not grow as quickly," she added. "But at this point, we've got a long way to go. So we expect that number to grow and our SaaS number to grow simultaneously at much higher percentages because it's a smaller base." Oracle is also enjoying extremely high renewal rates for maintenance, Catz said.

 

When will Oracle database 12c arrive and what will be the impact?: Ellison had previously said that Oracle's next-generation database, version 12c, would be arriving in the market either late this year or early next.

But at the OpenWorld conference a few months ago, Oracle announced that the release date would be sometime in "calendar year 2013," a wording that gives Oracle some additional breathing room if required.

On Tuesday's conference call, Ellison discussed 12c but didn't firm up a launch date, instead focusing on extolling the release's new features, calling it the first database "designed for the cloud."

That's because Oracle has incorporated the concept of multitenancy, an architectural approach long used in SaaS (software as a service), where many customers share a single application instance with their data kept separate. This gives SaaS vendors the ability to apply upgrades and patches to all of them at once, among other benefits.

"We've moved the multitenancy feature out of the application and down into the database layer, which gives people much better capability, much better security," Ellison said. "So we think it will greatly enhance our own cloud offering. It will help all of the cloud companies that depend on the Oracle database. And it will be very, very attractive to our enterprise customers."

However, while Oracle itself may move quickly to 12c for its cloud operations, history has shown that many Oracle database customers tend to wait until the second release within a given cycle, preferring to feel comfortable that all the kinks have been worked out. Typically, Oracle has issued those second database releases a couple of years after the initial launch.

 

What do Oracle's Q2 results mean for the global economy and other software vendors?: Oracle reported double-digit growth in all regions, with sales strong even in Europe, which has been racked by economic crisis for some time.

Hurd was asked about the seeming anomaly, but his answer didn't seem to bear good news for the software sector in general.

About a year ago, Oracle started hiring aggressively in Europe, and as a result, has simply generated more leads, according to Hurd. Deals may still be difficult to close, but Oracle is simply engaged in more of them, so the numbers went up, he said.

That said, the market will get another telling indicator of IT spending health in Europe next month, when Oracle rival SAP is expected to report its fourth-quarter and year-end results.

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