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SaaS: Oracle's Ellison does About Face on on-Demand

By Dick Weisinger

In an about face for Oracle, Larry Ellison is predicting that Oracle will become the number one player in the on-Demand marketplace. Ellison’s stance had been for some time that while on-Demand is an interesting concept, the market wasn’t lucrative enough for Oracle to bother with.  Although that didn’t stop him from actively investing in NetSuite, a leader in Business on-Demand software.

A year ago, Ellison said that “It’s hard to point to any software-as-a-service provider that’s doing a good job of improving its profitability.”  If you look at the leader, Salesforce.com, they don’t make very much money and they’ve been at it for almost 10 years.”  In terms of net profit margin, SaaS companies like Salesforce.com and NetSuite trail far behind traditional software vendors like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle in profitability.

Now Ellison is saying that Oracle’s goal is to be the “No. 1 applications company, the No. 1 on-premises application company, and the No. 1 on-demand  application company.” This will require a “very gradual shift over a period of a decade,” but Oracle now expects that on-Demand software will grow at a far faster pace than traditional software.

Part of Ellison’s change in thinking comes as a result of the final release of Oracle Fusion, Oracle’s culmination of merging the best capabilities of the many software acquisitions it’s made over the past few years into a unified product.  Ellison said that “all of our Fusion applications are on-demand ready … so we see all of our application software, not just sales-force automation, but all of our application software going forward being sold in two ways.”

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