You wouldn’t know my new database, she goes to another school: Oracle boasts of earthshattering tech the outside world cannot see

Plus: Ellison ramps up SAP trash-talking. At least some things are the same in 2021


Updated Oracle has underwhelmed the market with its Q3 results – shares took a minor tumble yesterday. But true to form its island-owning founder and CTO did his best to distract from matters at hand by talking up wins against its arch-rival and hyping technology it is yet to launch.

Big Red’s financials for the three months ended 28 February chugged along at a reasonable rate, with revenue rising 3 per cent year-on-year to $10.1bn.

Broken down by division, cloud services and licence support were $7.3bn, up 5 per cent; cloud licence and on-premises licence sales were $1.3bn, a 4 per cent increase on the previous year; hardware sales were down 4 per cent to $820m; and support was down 5 per cent to $737m.

Meanwhile, operating income was up 10 per cent to $3.9bn.

It was CEO Safra Catz’s statement of future guidance that unsettled investors, with Oracle’s shares down 6 per cent shortly after the news.

She told investors on a call yesterday that adjusted earning per share would be between $1.20 to $1.24 in Q4 but the market was expecting something closer to $1.28.

The self-driving database

Still, CTO and founder Larry Ellison did his best to distract from the results by claiming the world was about to witness staggering growth in the database market in Q4 because of some yet-to-be-revealed autonomous database technologies. “We expect it really to explode next year. And I really do mean very, very rapid growth next year. I'm not really ready to disclose our plans as to why I think it's going to suddenly spike but we expect very, very rapid database growth next year,” the ever-tanned septuagenarian said.

Advocates of rival databases — say the open-source PostgresSQL to which backer EDB offers to port applications — would say that Oracle needs an autonomous database because the underlying technology is so clunky and old it’s very time-consuming to deploy, manage and keep up to date.

Ellison then turned his attention to SAP, arch-rival in the business application market.

In September last year, SAP CFO Luka Mucic said he was not aware of “any competitive replacement” by Oracle in ERP, following Ellison’s earlier claim to be pinching SAP’s customers.

Big Larry was not about to let that lie. Six months may have passed but he was not prepared to pass up an opportunity to settle the score.

“In Q3 alone we signed contracts, totalling hundreds of millions of dollars to migrate several very large SAP ERP customers, to Oracle Fusion ERP. But this was not just a recent Q3 event. This has been going on for a couple of years,” he said.

He went on to list, at laborious length, 100 customers he claimed had moved their ERP from SAP to Oracle. One could almost hear investment analysts drumming their fingers on the desk and casually scrolling through stock tickers as they heard the news about Birmingham City Council, a deal first announced in 2019.

Where will it all end? The world is wearily waiting for a referee to call a draw as these two heavyweights slug it out in a pointless display of corporate machismo. ®

Updated at 1547 UTC to add

An SAP spokesperson told The Register: "Our priority is driving our customers' success, not putting them in the middle of a public debate. Our numbers speak for themselves: Our increasing ERP market share is approximately double that of our closest competitor."

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