10/11/2011

By David Terrar, CEO of D2C Limited, Co-founder of Cloud Advocates

In our Cloud Means Business articles we regularly talk about Cloud Computing going past the tipping point. Last month two significant players, one on the US and one here in the UK, made some moves which highlight the rate of change, particular in the applications market where the changes are more significant.

Larry Ellison, Oracle's CEO is renowned for his views on Cloud Computing from these remarks at the Churchill Club back in 2009. However, at October's Oracle World, Larry used his keynote speech to announce Oracle's Public Cloud. Essentially they will provide customers with subscription-based, self-service access to collection of their products - Oracle Fusion Applications, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Database, all completely managed, hosted and supported by Oracle themselves. The announcement promised a "simple pricing model” which is based on a monthly subscription with multiple tiers, and a 30-day trial period for all services. These are Oracle's traditional products but delivered over the cloud and with a proper cloud style pricing model. So far so good, although none of these products are particularly exciting.

A more significant step was made later in the month when Oracle purchased RightNow, a cloud applications company who have been around since the start of Software as a Service, having been founded in 1997. They provide solutions for call centres and customer experience. Coupled with Oracle's own CRM products it's a move that pitches them head to head with Salesforce. However, more significant than this one move is their stated intent to cover a full range of cloud solutions. I agree with Larry Dignan's analysis when he says: "That quote is basically shorthand for “Oracle is going cloud shopping."

There are plenty of cloud applications providers Oracle could target, from the likes of NetSuite down to smaller, more recent players with great technology that could benefit from Oracle's marketing muscle. This kind of market consolidation is inevitable.

Over here, IRIS is the UK’s largest privately owned software and services company with over 1,200 people and revenues of over £120 million. They are the largest software provider to accounting practices, not-for profits, and law firms. A while back they did a technology exchange deal with cloud accounting company FreeAgent, but at their October IRIS World they made a further announcement:

"IRIS Cloud is a major and strategic investment for IRIS that has been under development for some time. Whilst some suppliers provide traditional application software that runs on equipment in their customers’ premises and others offer software that is delivered over the internet as a service, IRIS gives its customers choice and flexibility to continue to run their applications on-premise – as they always have, in the cloud, or take advantage of both at the same time without the need for change or compromise."

It isn't surprising that are taking a pragmatic approach, recognizing that many of their traditional accounting practices and law firms won't want to be forced in to a shift to the Cloud. However, IRIS are making a statement on strategic direction, while certain other major UK accounting software companies seem to be letting the cloud pass them by.

Taken together these steps by Oracle and IRIS highlight the shift in emphasis towards cloud applications. I expect to see more moves and announcements like this in the coming months.


David Terrar is a consultant and software developer who specialises in the use of Cloud applications and social media in business. He is a co founder of Cloud Advocates, an association of consultants who aim to demystify the Cloud and provide pragmatic help and advice for businesses, organizations and accounting practices. To find out more, visit www.cloudadvocates.com


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