Oracle runs better on Oracle

Oracle’s takeover of Sun is giving customers better products that are cheaper and easier to manage, says Fadi Abdulkhalek, cluster leader, Gulf States

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Oracle runs better on Oracle Oracle’s Fadi Abdulkhalek: Engineered systems equal quicker deployment and easier management
By  David Ingham Published  May 27, 2012

When Oracle, famous for its databases and ERP software, announced its intention to acquire Sun Microsytems in 2009, the move was a surprise to many in the industry. A leading software company accustomed to high margins and consistent growth was getting into the lower growth, lower margin hardware business.

For Oracle, however, the objective was clear. By combining software and hardware, the company could offer customers a tightly integrated platform that would be more straightforward to manage and maintain than multiple vendor offerings.

“Oracle has internalised the challenge of optimising the bits that have to work together and not offloading that to the customer,” explains Fadi Abdulkhalek, VP and cluster leader, Gulf States, Oracle. “If they choose the Oracle on Oracle story, the customer can focus on how they provide better services to their customers as opposed to worrying about how to integrate all these components together.”

Now, just over two years since the merger went through, Abdulkhalek insists that regional customers have been receptive to the idea of Oracle software running on Oracle hardware, what the company refers to as ‘Oracle on Oracle’. “Customers always want to simplify the management process,” he says.

“Our approach enables us to address some basic issues, which are improving operational costs and the way IT is run and managed. It’s overall a positive thing; customers that are adopting the Oracle on Oracle story are finding the rewards.”

Data from Gartner suggests that local customers have bought fewer Oracle systems recently, but they are spending more each time they buy. The company sold 1214 server units in the MEA region in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the analyst, a year on year decline of 16.4%. Revenue from those units, however, rose 3.2% year on year to reach US $21.5 million over the period.

Those numbers cover sales of new systems. Acquiring Sun means that Oracle has also picked up a large installed base of hardware customers. Many of these would have been running Oracle software on Sun platforms, but there will be still be an installed base not necessarily running the two together. “The strategy is not to force customers to put everything on one platform; obviously that’s what we’d like and what we’d push for, but the customer has a  choice,” Abdulkhalek explains.

Oracle’s message to customers is that they will find Oracle on Oracle systems more straightforward and cheaper to manage going forward than systems based on software and hardware from different vendors. “The trend in IT is to simplify management and to provide software as a service,” says Abdulkhalek. “There will be more focus on having a unified environment where you’re able to not only manage but control your costs over a period of time.”

Oracle on Oracle systems may cost more to acquire than Oracle on something else, but Abdulkhalek says there are ways of controlling even the initial cost of acquisition. “With the latest database appliance, which enables customers to put in a ready made server with the storage and the database, they pay as they go based on the usage,” says Abdulkhalek. “So this machine not only addresses the simplification of running such an environment but also they will pay for it as they grow with it.”

Merging two companies requires putting together two sets of employees and two channel networks. Employees in Dubai are still in different locations, but a plan is afoot to put everything in the same location.

As far as the channel is concerned, Oracle has continued with its longstanding strategy of helping channel partners specialise. The company says it devotes thousands of man days each year to channel training.

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