Oracle Corporation

Photo By: Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Oracle Corporation is a multinational computer technology corporation, headquartered in Redwood Shores, California. The company specializes primarily in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered systems and enterprise software products — particularly its own brands of database management systems. In 2015 Oracle was the second-largest software maker by revenue, after Microsoft.

The company also develops and builds tools for database development and systems of middle-tier software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, customer relationship management (CRM) software and supply chain management (SCM) software.

History

Larry Ellison co-founded Oracle Corporation in 1977 with Bob Miner and Ed Oates under the name Software Development Laboratories (SDL). Ellison took inspiration from the 1970 paper written by Edgar F. Coddon relational database management systems (RDBMS) named “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.” He heard about the IBM System R database from an article in the IBM Research Journal provided by Oates. Also derived from Codd’s theories, Ellison wanted to make Oracle’s product compatible with System R, but failed to do so as IBM kept the error codes for their DBMS a secret. SDL changed its name to Relational Software, Inc (RSI) in 1979, then again to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982, to align itself more closely with its flagship product Oracle Database. At this stage Bob Miner served as the company’s senior programmer. On March 12, 1986, the company had its initial public offering. In 1995, Oracle Systems Corporation changed its name to Oracle Corporation, officially named Oracle, but sometimes referred to as Oracle Corporation, the name of the holding company. Part of Oracle Corporation’s early success arose from using the C programming language to implement its products. This eased porting to different operating systems (most of which support C).

Products and services

Oracle designs, manufactures, and sells both software and hardware products, as well as offering services that complement them (such as financing, training, consulting, and hosting services). Many of the products have been added to Oracle’s portfolio through acquisitions.

Software

Oracle’s E-delivery service (Oracle Software Delivery Cloud) provides generic downloadable Oracle software and documentation.

Databases

  • Oracle Database
  • Release 10: In 2004, Oracle Corporation shipped release 10g (g standing for “grid”) as the then latest version of Oracle Database. (Oracle Application Server 10g using Java EE integrated with the server part of that version of the database, making it possible to deploy web-technology applications. The application server comprised the first middle-tier software designed for grid computing.[citation needed] The interrelationship between Oracle 10g and Java allowed developers to set up stored procedures written in the Java language, as well as those written in the traditional Oracle database programming language, PL/SQL.)
  • Release 11: Release 11g became the current Oracle Database version in 2007. Oracle Corporation released Oracle Database 11g Release 2 in September 2009. This version was available in four commercial editions—Enterprise Edition, Standard Edition, Standard Edition One, and Personal Edition—and in one free edition—the Express Edition. The licensing of these editions shows various restrictions and obligations that are considered[by whom?] complex. The Enterprise Edition (DB EE), the most expensive of the Database Editions, has the fewest restrictions — but nevertheless has complex licensing. Oracle Corporation constrains the Standard Edition (DB SE) and Standard Edition One (SE1) with more licensing restrictions, in accordance with their lower price.
  • Release 12: Release 12c (c standing for “cloud”) became available on July 1, 2013.

Oracle Corporation has acquired and developed the following additional database technologies:

  • Berkeley DB, which offers embedded database processing
  • Oracle Rdb, a relational database system running on OpenVMS platforms. Oracle acquired Rdb in 1994 from Digital Equipment Corporation. Oracle has since made many enhancements to this product and development continues as of 2008.
  • TimesTen, which features in-memory database operations
  • Oracle Essbase, which continues the Hyperion Essbase tradition of multi-dimensional database management
  • MySQL, a relational database management system licensed under the GNU General Public License, initially developed by MySQL AB
  • Oracle NoSQL Database, a scalable, distributed key-value NoSQL database

Middleware

Oracle Fusion Middleware is a family of middleware software products, including (for instance) application server, system integration, business process management (BPM), user interaction, content management, identity management and business intelligence (BI) products.

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES), Oracle’s enterprise-search offering, gives users the ability to search for content across multiple locations, including websites, XML files, file servers, content management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, customer relationship management systems, business intelligence systems, and databases.

Oracle Beehive

Released in 2008, the Oracle Beehive collaboration software provides team workspaces (including wikis, team calendaring and file sharing), email, calendar, instant messaging, and conferencing on a single platform. Customers can use Beehive as licensed software or as software as a service (“SaaS”).

Applications

Oracle also sells a suite of business applications. The Oracle E-Business Suite includes software to perform various enterprise functions related to (for instance) financials, manufacturing, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human resource management. The Oracle Retail Suite covers the retail-industry vertical, providing merchandise management, price management, invoice matching, allocations, store operations management, warehouse management, demand forecasting, merchandise financial planning, assortment planning and category management. Users can access these facilities through a browser interface over the Internet or via a corporate intranet.

 

Enterprise management

Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) provides web-based monitoring and management tools for Oracle products (and for some third-party software), including database management, middleware management, application management, hardware and virtualization management and cloud management.

The Primavera products of Oracle’s Primavera Global Business Unit (PGBU) consist of project-management software.

ORAchk (formerly RACchk) examines software in the Oracle software stack and reports on issues.

 

Marketing

Sales practices

In 1990, Oracle laid off 10% (about 400 people) of its work force because of accounting errors. This crisis came about because of Oracle’s “up-front” marketing strategy, in which sales people urged potential customers to buy the largest possible amount of software all at once. The sales people then booked the value of future license sales in the current quarter, thereby increasing their bonuses. This became a problem when the future sales subsequently failed to materialize. Oracle eventually had to restate its earnings twice, and also settled (out of court) class-action lawsuits arising from its having overstated its earnings. Ellison stated in 1992 that Oracle had made “an incredible business mistake.”

Competition

Although IBM dominated the mainframe relational-database market with its DB2 and SQL/DS database products, it delayed entering the market for a relational database on UNIX and Windows operating systems. This left the door open for Sybase, Oracle and Informix (and eventually Microsoft) to dominate mid-range and microcomputers.

Around this time, Oracle technology started to lag technically behind that of Sybase. In 1990–1993 Sybase became the fastest-growing database company and the database industry’s darling vendor, but soon fell victim to its merger mania and to technical issues with System X. Sybase’s 1993 merger with Powersoft resulted in its losing its focus on its core database technology. In 1993, Sybase sold the rights to its database software running under the Windows operating system to Microsoft Corporation, which now markets it under the name “SQL Server.”

In 1994, Informix overtook Sybase and became Oracle’s most important rival. The intense war between Informix CEO Phil White and Ellison made front-page news in Silicon Valley for three years. Informix claimed that Oracle had hired away Informix engineers to disclose important trade secrets about an upcoming product. Informix finally dropped its lawsuit against Oracle in 1997. In November 2005, a book detailing the war between Oracle and Informix was published, titled The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White. It gave a detailed chronology of the battle of Informix against Oracle, and how Informix Software’s CEO Phil White landed in jail because of his obsession with overtaking Ellison.

Once it had overcome Informix and Sybase, Oracle Corporation enjoyed years of dominance in the database market until use of Microsoft SQL Server became widespread in the late 1990s and IBM acquired Informix Software in 2001 (to complement its DB2 database). Today Oracle competes for new database licenses on UNIX, Linux, and Windows operating systems primarily against IBM’s DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server. IBM’s DB2 still dominates the mainframe database market.

In 2004, Oracle’s sales grew at a rate of 14.5% to $6.2 billion, giving it 41.3% and the top share of the relational-database market (InformationWeek – March 2005), with market share estimated at up to 44.6% in 2005 by some sources. Oracle Corporation’s main competitors in the database arena remain IBM DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server, and to a lesser extent Sybase and Teradata, with open-source databases such as PostgreSQL and MySQL also having a significant share of the market. EnterpriseDB, based on PostgreSQL, has recently made inroads by proclaiming that its product delivers Oracle compatibility features[clarification needed] at a much lower price-point.

In the software-applications market, Oracle Corporation primarily competes against SAP. On March 22, 2007 Oracle sued SAP, accusing them of fraud and unfair competition.

In the market for business intelligence software, many other software companies—small and large—have successfully competed in quality with Oracle and SAP products. Business intelligence vendors can be categorized into the “big four” consolidated BI firms such as Oracle, who has entered BI market through a recent trend of acquisitions (including Hyperion Solutions), and the independent “pure play” vendors such as MicroStrategy, Actuate, and SAS.

Oracle Financials was ranked in the Top 20 Most Popular Accounting Software Infographic by Capterra in 2014, beating out SAP and a number of their other competitors.

Oracle and SAP

From 1988, Oracle Corporation and the German company SAP AG had a decade-long history of cooperation, beginning with the integration of SAP’s R/3 enterprise application suite with Oracle’s relational database products. The marketplace regarded the two firms’ products as complementing one another, rather than as substitutes. Despite the current SAP partnership with Microsoft, and the increasing integration of SAP applications with Microsoft products (such as Microsoft SQL Server, a competitor to Oracle Database), Oracle and SAP continue their cooperation. According to Oracle Corporation, the majority of SAP’s customers use Oracle databases.

In recent years, however, competition between Oracle and SAP has increased, and as a result, the rivalry between the two companies has grown, even developing into a feud between the co-founders of the two companies, where one party would frequently voice strong negative comments about the other company.[citation needed]

In 2004, Oracle began to increase its interest in the enterprise-applications market (in 1989, Oracle had already released Oracle Financials). A series of acquisitions by Oracle Corporation began, most notably those of PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems and Hyperion.

SAP recognized that Oracle had started to become a competitor in a market where SAP had the leadership, and saw an opportunity to lure in customers from those companies that Oracle Corporation had acquired. SAP would offer those customers special discounts on the licenses for its enterprise applications.

Oracle Corporation would resort to a similar strategy, by advising SAP customers to get “OFF SAP” (a play on the words of the acronym for its middleware platform “Oracle Fusion for SAP”), and also by providing special discounts on licenses and services to SAP customers who chose Oracle Corporation products.

Currently Oracle and SAP (the latter through its recently acquired subsidiary TomorrowNow) compete in the third-party enterprise software maintenance and support market. On March 22, 2007, Oracle filed a lawsuit against SAP. In Oracle Corporation v. SAP AG Oracle alleged that TomorrowNow, which provides discount support for legacy Oracle product lines, used the accounts of former Oracle customers to systematically download patches and support documents from Oracle’s website and to appropriate them for SAP’s use. Some analysts have suggested the suit could form part of a strategy by Oracle Corporation to decrease competition with SAP in the market for third-party enterprise software maintenance and support.

On July 3, 2007, SAP admitted that TomorrowNow employees had made “inappropriate downloads” from the Oracle support website. However, it claims that SAP personnel and SAP customers had no access to Oracle intellectual property via TomorrowNow. SAP’s CEO Henning Kagermann stated that “Even a single inappropriate download is unacceptable from my perspective. We regret very much that this occurred.” Additionally, SAP announced that it had “instituted changes” in TomorrowNow’s operational oversight.

On November 23, 2010, a U.S. district court jury in Oakland California found that SAP AG must pay Oracle Corp $1.3 billion for copyright infringement, awarding damages that could be the largest-ever for copyright infringement. While admitting liability, SAP estimated the damages at no more than $40 million, while Oracle claimed that they are at least $1.65 billion. The awarded amount is one of the 10 or 20 largest jury verdicts in U.S. legal history. SAP said they were disappointed by the verdict and might appeal. On September 1, 2011, a federal judge overturned the judgment and offered a reduced amount or a new trial, calling Oracle’s original award “grossly” excessive. Oracle chose a new trial.

On August 3, 2012, SAP and Oracle agreed on a judgment for $306 million in damages, pending approval from the U.S. district court judge, “to save time and expense of [a] new trial”. After the accord has been approved, Oracle can ask a federal appeals court to reinstate the earlier jury verdict. In addition to the damages payment, SAP has already paid Oracle $120 million for its legal fees.

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