Oracle names Thomas Kurian president

When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison promoted co-presidents Safra Catz and Mark Hurd to co-CEOs in September, a slot opened up for a new president. Now Thomas Kurian, an 18-year veteran with the company, will fill it, Oracle sources confirmed Friday morning.

News of the promotion, first reported Thursday by Bloomberg News, was announced internally but has not been publicized by the company. It’s a logical choice. Kurian joined Oracle in 1996 after a stint at McKinsey. His most recent title was EVP of  product development. He reported to Oracle executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison and I’m betting will continue to do so.

When Ellison took on the CTO post, he mentioned specifically that he would work closely with Kurian and John Fowler, the former Sun exec who is now EVP of systems for Oracle, and a few others going forward as Oracle navigates its tricky cloud computing course.

On the one hand, Oracle — like its traditional rivals IBM, Microsoft, and SAP — continue to battle each other for market share in databases and enterprise applications. On the other, it has to contend with cloud-first players, most notably Amazon Web Services, which has launched several database initiatives on its own, lured small and growing companies and is increasingly targeting big enterprises as well.

Kurian has long been seen as an Ellison favorite. At one event years ago, then-Oracle President Charles Phillips joked to reporters and analysts that Kurian, not he, would be the next CEO of Oracle.

He’s getting closer.