New Relic drafts former Oracle exec to lead biz dev

New Relic has named John Gray, a former long-time channel exec for Oracle, as its new SVP of business development.

Gray, who was most recently at LivePerson, brings long experience dealing with channel partners in the hotly contested enterprise software arena. New Relic, already a hit in startups, really wants to sell more of its application performance management and analytics to these big-fish companies.

Gray will report to Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, another [company]Oracle[/company] alum who joined as New Relic’s chief revenue officer in late 2013 when the company was prepping its IPO.

All those years at Oracle should come in handy for [company]New Relic[/company]. Last fall the company launched an enterprise partner program and named several top [company]Microsoft[/company] Azure and [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services partners as inaugural members.

Working with enterprise-focused consultants, systems integrators and VARs is right in Gray’s wheelhouse. He will direct the company’s partner strategy and build its network of alliances and channel partners, the company said.


Private cloud? Public cloud? Rackspace erases the difference

Rackspace is going to stop distinguishing between the money it makes from public cloud and what it derives from “dedicated” cloud, a category that encompasses a bunch of options.

Well that’s one way to sidestep the whole “is private cloud dead?” debate.

The move may show a fanatical obsession on managed cloud or indicate that Rackspace is giving up on public cloud where leader, [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services, is contending with growing threats from [company]Microsoft[/company] Azure and[company] Google[/company] Cloud Platform. Or both. Tomato, tomahto.

On the fourth quarter earnings call Tuesday, CEO Taylor Rhodes reiterated that “managed cloud” versus the wild-west of unmanaged public cloud is where [company]Rackspace[/company] is focused. And its financial earnings will reflect that going forward. No longer will Rackspace put its public cloud revenue in one bucket and combined private cloud, managed hosting, managed services all into the dedicated cloud revenue bucket.

In an interview after the call, Rhodes acknowledged that most new “greenfield” applications will be built for public cloud deployment over a ten-year time frame. But, there are also many legacy applications that will stay either stay where they are or move to a single-tenant private cloud situation. And there is demand for well-managed specialized clouds for different workloads, Rhodes said.

rax q4 2The accounting changes were made in part to keep Rackspace sales people from selling the wrong cloud to the wrong customer, he said. “We have a dilemma in that we switched from a horizontal position in cloud … to [cloud for] particular workloads. We want to be the best at supporting Oracle commerce and we will be the best at managing that with a highly opinionated point of view on whether Oracle commerce should be a single-tenant or multi-tenant implementation.” I’m guessing that single-tenant will be the answer here.

Rackspace sales people shouldn’t be rewarded “perversely” for selling multi-tenant when single tenant is best, he said.

Overall, the company posted net income of 26 cents per share, surpassing consensus estimates of 19 cents per share, but it missed on revenue, logging $472.2 million where analysts expected $474 million.

rax public cloud ytd

Will calling Boston “CEO City” make it so?

John Cullinane, who co-founded what many characterize as the industry’s first standalone software startup back in 1968 near Boston, thinks the city could do itself a favor in attracting corporate headquarters if it markets itself as “CEO City.”

Cullinane, the exec behind Cullinet, posed that suggestion in BetaBoston last week and the idea is intriguing given the greater Boston area’s inferiority complex vis-a-vis Silicon Valley and San Francisco when it comes to launching successful tech startups and keeping them around as they grow. Most famous example: Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard to found [company]Facebook[/company] in the Valley. Oh, the ignominy.

free snow 2While Boston-Cambridge remains home to a good number of tech and biotech startups, it’s seen as pretty much a feeder system for gigantic tech companies based somewhere else. [company]IBM[/company], Facebook, [company]Google[/company], [company]Microsoft[/company] have all bought local companies and in some cases leave them here, but as satellite offices.

Even such local non-tech corporate stalwarts like Gillette and John Hancock Insurance, which were once headquartered here, are now cogs of bigger companies based elsewhere. Gillette is now part of Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble and Hancock, is now owned by  Manulife, a Canadian company for goodness sake!

This is galling to a certain faction of homers.

To fix that, Cullinane suggested that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh woo CEOs with tales of Boston as an attractive, livable city with great transportation; world-class universities and research institutes; great hospitals, the usual pitch really. But if Boston is able to win over a couple of CEOs, there will be a network effect because, he said, CEOs like to hobnob with other CEOs whether they’re with startups or huge companies. The fact that new governor Charlie Baker, is a former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare,  is probably a boon in this scheme of things.

Per BetaBoston:

[Cullinane] added that Boston is also strategically located, with an increasing number of direct international flights out of Logan. “When you put this message to a CEO that is thinking about where to locate headquarters, these things could tip things,” Cullinane said.

Hey, he’s got an idea here I guess, but this is probably not the week to start pitching it given the 62 inches of snow that have piled up and pretty much shut down all that great transportation. Just saying.

Oracle paid north of $1.2B for Datalogix, says WSJ

Right before Christmas, when [company]Oracle[/company] announced plans to buy Datalogix it didn’t detail price. Now, The Wall Street Journal, (paywall)  is filling in the blanks, reporting that the price tag is $1.2 billion, according to two anonymous sources “familiar with the deal.”

Oracle did not comment for this story.

Datalogix collects consumer sentiment by the truckload via agreements with [company]Facebook[/company], [company]Twitter[/company] and other sources. In its press release, Oracle said Datalogix “aggregates and provides insights on over $2 trillion in consumer spending from 1,500 data partners across 110 million households to provide purchase-based targeting and drive more sales.”

Also it said that Datalogix has more than 650 customers including “82 of the top 100 US advertisers such as [company]Ford[/company] and [company]Kraft[/company].” and, it said that 7 of the top 8 digital media publishers including the aforementioned Facebook and Twitter use Datalogix to “enhance their media.”

Hmmm. Given the tremendous amount of money, time and effort companies spend to better target marketing and ad pitches, that consumer info is probably worth a pretty penny.  But the fact that Oracle, the database market leader and a power in enterprise software, is now buying up consumer data, raised more than a few eyebrows, especially coming as it did after a number of other deals that seem to be consolidating vast troves of consumer data in a few powerful hands. Oracle made this move after having already acquired Bluekai, a Cambridge, Mass. startup that parses inforamtion about what consumers are looking to buy both online and in the real world.

In particular, watchdog group The Center for Digital Democracy has asked the FTC review this deal with an eye as to whether it gives Oracle too much access to too much customer data. The CDD also cited Axciom’s buy of Liveramp in May; [company]Adobe Systems[/company]’ purchase of Neolane in June 2013, and Oracle’s acquisitions of Eloqua in December 2012 and Responsys a year later, as signs that data aggregation is becoming a problem.

The Datalogix-Facebook tie in is of special note since under an existing settlement with the FTC, Facebook agreed to obtain consumers’ permission before sharing their data. The specter of that agreement surfaced when Facebook bought WhatsApp.

The consolidation of data aggregators is a topic we can bring up next month with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill who will speak at Structure Data.

For what it’s worth on the pricing issue, public companies do not have to disclose purchase price of a private company unless that price is “material” to their business. The definition of materiality is a bit loosey goosey, however. If you want to delve into the niceties, check out concept statement 2 from the Financial Accounting Standards Board.


Not a shocker: SAP puts HANA at center of new biz apps push

When you hear from SAP these days, the software giant always leads with HANA, its in-memory database. HANA is to SAP what Watson is to IBM — proof that just because a company is getting along in years doesn’t mean it can’t do great stuff.

So it’ s not a huge surprise that SAP’s “next generation” business software suite, S/4, will draw heavily on HANA and sport a single unified interface across the applications. The first of these to be delivered, Simple Finance, was introduced Tuesday with more modules to follow.

At a rollout event in New York on Tuesday, [company]SAP[/company] CEO Bill McDermott characterized this as “the biggest product launch in the last 23 years and perhaps the company’s history.”

No pressure there.

The rewritten S/4HANA applications are now available on-premises across industries and regions. Simple Finance is the first application to be offered via SaaS — it’s also available on premises now, according to a spokeswoman.

Update: An SAP spokesman said these new applications were built from the ground up to run on HANA and will not work with third party databases, which is sort of shocking. (So much for earlier reports that the applications would continue to  work with third-party databases if needed — but would work better, faster, prettier with HANA.)

[company]Oracle[/company] has a similar “better together” story around its database, middleware, analytics, Linux and servers — er, make that engineered systems. All of these vendors talk about being open, but also say they’re more powerful when running with the company’s full array of technologies.

Complicating this particular storyline is that SAP and Oracle used to be more friends than enemies, with the majority of SAP’s business applications running on Oracle databases. Then Oracle decided to dive full on into enterprise applications with its acquisitions of PeopleSoft, Siebel Systems and everything else that wasn’t nailed down, while SAP doubled down in databases, buying Sybase and creating HANA. SAP and Oracle also bulked up their respective SaaS rosters — Oracle buying RightNow, Taleo  and SAP snapping up SuccessFactors.

And of course you know, this means war.

This story was updated at 11:16 a.m. PST to add SAP’s statement that the new applications will not run with third-party databases. 

SAP’s lower profit guidance blamed on “tough” cloud transition

SAP, like its enterprise software competitors, has been talking cloud for years, putting a ton of effort into promoting HANA as a cloud-enabled in-memory database for example.

But early Tuesday, a preliminary earnings report for its fourth quarter 2014 had analysts wondering about just how well it’s executing on the tricky balancing act between on-premises enterprise software sales — with big up-front payments and high maintenance fees — and the more incremental sales model of cloud technologies.

In this game, SAP is competing not only with long-time rivals like [company]Oracle[/company], but newer-look (but not really all that new) companies like [company]NetSuite[/company] and [company][/company] that offer enterprise applications in the software-as-a-service model. SAP has had a couple of hiccups in that market

On Tuesday, the Walldorf, Germany-based software giant said it now expects operating profit for fiscal 2017 to come in at about $7.3 billion, on revenue of about $24.3 billion,  down from previous guidance of $7.7 billion. Coming as it did after another profit warning four months ago, Wall Street got restless and SAP shares fell 5.09 percent to $63.71 in pre-market-open trading

Bloomberg News summed up the problem: [company]SAP[/company] revenue from cloud subscription and support will reach $2.26 billion to $2.35 billion this year, but analysts surveyed by the publication had expected them to come in at around $2.41 billion range.

To all of this SAP CEO Bill McDermott took to CNBC to say (paraphrasing here) that the company’s core business is growing, its cloud business is growing faster, so there’s nothing to worry about.

SAP, like rivals Oracle and other legacy enterprise software players, have to convince customers that they truly “get” cloud, or at least SaaS.

Oracle names former CIA director Leon Panetta to its board

Leon Panetta, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA director under President Obama, is now an Oracle director.

Panetta served as defense secretary from 2011 to 2013 and led the CIA from 2009 to 2011. Panetta also served in the Clinton administration as chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget. And he was a congressman to California’s 16th district from 1977 to 1993. The man obviously has connections.

The appointment of a former CIA chief may raise eyebrows among the data privacy advocates who squealed at  Oracle’ s decision to purchase data aggregator Datalogix.

The move, announced Monday, is not the first time Oracle has put a political bigwig on its board. In November 2000, the vendor named Joe Lockhart, President Clinton’s former press secretary, as a director. Lockhart resigned six months later, citing the long Washington, D.C.-to-Northern California commute.  Oracle’s got to hope this appointment works out better, but at least Panetta is a native Californian.

[company]Oracle[/company] isn’t alone in snagging political heavyweights. In April, Dropbox named Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state under George W. Bush, as a director — a decision that also raised a bit of a ruckus.

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.

Watchdog group urges FTC to scrutinize latest Oracle deal

The Center for Digital Democracy wants the Federal Trade Commission to really look over Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Datalogix, announced Monday morning.

The combined consumer data gathered by [company]Datalogix[/company] (via partnerships with [company]Facebook[/company] and [company]Twitter[/company] and other sources) along with Oracle’s earlier buyout of BlueKai, another data broker, may give [company]Oracle[/company] just a little too much consumer data for the public’s own good, according to the CDD.

In a quick phone interview, CDD Executive Director Jeff Chester said the regulatory agency needs to look at data privacy issues when considering the competitive aspects of such M&A activity. The CDD has a list of M&A deals that it says indicate a hastening consolidation of data aggregating companies including Axcient’s buy of Liveramp in May; Adobe Systems’ acquisition of Neolane in June 2013, and Oracle’s acquisitions of Eloqua in December 2012 and Responsys a year later..

Per an earlier emailed statement Chester said:

“Through the data it gathers on what we buy, and with its relationship with Facebook and other powerful marketers, Datalogix consists of a online treasure trove of data on Americans. The Oracle deal announced today follows its recent acquisition as well of Bluekai, which holds reams of information on consumers.”

The CDD also pointed out that under a previous settlement with the FTC, Facebook agreed to obtain consumers’ permission before sharing their data. The specter of that agreement surfaced when Facebook bought WhatsApp.

Chester also said:

“[Given] the FTC’s 20-year consent decree with Facebook, and the role that Datalogix plays with the social network, it also must review whether the deal requires additional safeguards under that decree. The growing consolidation of information on every American and whatever we do — regardless of location, time of day, whether we are online or off — should trigger action, as well as soul searching by both policymakers and the public.”

In August the CDD asked the FTC to look into the practices both of data brokers — including Datalogix and Acxiom as well as marketing software companies like — to make sure they were complying with the Safe Harbor between the U.S. and European Union. That safe harbor provision lets these U.S. vendors “self-certify” that they are adhering to strong data protection standards.

Oracle hopes to use that data to inform its marketing automation software and “data cloud.” In that arena it competes competition with [company][/company], [company]Adobe Systems[/company] and others.

Oracle had no comment for this story.

Note: this story was updated at 11:25 a.m. PST with Jeff Chester’s comment and again at 11:51 a.m. PST with CDD’s list of data aggregator-linked mergers and acquisitions..

Oracle’s at it again: Acquires data broker Datalogix

Oracle continues to build its cloud-and-data arsenal, announcing its intention to buy Datalogix, a data marketing specialist that gleans consumer sentiment data via pacts with Facebook and Twitter and other sources.

In a statement, Datalogix said it aggregates information based on over “$2 trillion in consumer spending from 1,500 data partners across 110 million households to provide purchase-based targeting and drive more sales.” It also claims that 82 of the top 100 advertisers in the U.S. including Ford Motor Co. and Kraft Foods. In fact the availability of all that data has provoked concern at the consumer watchdog the Center for Digital Democracy which wants the Federal Trade Commission to  scrutinize this deal.

As companies in the consumer product goods, automotive and other industries try to reap the biggest possible advantage from social networks,  the data gathered by companies like Datalogix, Acxiom and Epsilon is seen as extremely valuable. This purchase comes 10 months after Oracle purchased Bluekai, another player in this data aggregation space.

The buy shows that the race to build marketing automation war chests between [company]Oracle[/company]  and [company]Salesforce. com [/company]– which over the past few years bought Buddy Media and ExactTarget  continues. But it’s no two-horse race: [company]Adobe Systems[/company] is also a major player via its acquisitions of Omniture and Neolane.

These software vendors clearly still see marketing as a key segment and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) as strategic customers for the marketing suites they are putting together.

For its most recent quarter, Oracle claimed big growth in its cloud businesses.

oracle data cloud chart