Oracle with the 2009 revenue of $26.8 billion, market cap of about $135 billion, and a future revenue goal of $100 billion, has been a powerhouse in software for some time. Many in the IT world – both vendors and customers – fear Oracle. From a vendor perspective they are a threat to most, and from a user perspective organizations even government agencies such as NSF do not like that they increasingly have to rely and depend on a single vendor for software, and now to some extent for hardware as well. See New York Times article “Oracle Growth Plans Worry Rivals and Customers”.

Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison who is personally worth $28 billion, plans to dominate it all – software, hardware, and the cloud. He has said before that he wants to control intellectual property that ranges from silicon to software. And he has recently remarked that Oracle may even buy a chip company. Oracle’s latest tagline since the Sun acquisition speaks of Ellison’s ambitions:

And this is more than just a tagline. Oracle does provide a full stack, from storage and servers all the way to business applications, with everything in between. The graphics on the left shows Oracle’s stack. The graphics on the right shows what is inside the middleware layer of the stack. BPM, ECM, SOA, and BI among other things such as development tools, enterprise management, identity management, portals and collaboration, are all part of the middleware stack on the right.

Oracle stack; click to enlarge

Consolidating all that under the Fusion Middleware under a single sr. management team is an advantage for Oracle over say IBM that though it does provide the equivalent technologies and offerings, they are scattered across five different brands and business units within IBM Software Group (SWG) — WebSphere, Information Management, Rational, Lotus, Tivoli, and now ECM which has been moved to Software Solutions Group. Each of the major SWG brands is a separate business unit and P&L center with products that overlap and at times even compete with products of other SWG business units.

In this sense, Oracle is able to operate more efficiently than IBM. A case is point is BPM. Earlier this year Oracle with the release of BPMS 11g unified its two major BPMS offerings (BPEL Process Manager) and BEA Fuego into a single product suite with one modeling tool and one execution engine. IBM acquired FileNet over three years ago, and they still have two separate BPMSs — FileNet BPM and WebSphere BPM with only a loose integration between the two. And since 2009 they’ve added yet a third, Lombardi BPMS. This has resulted in a lot of unhealthy internal politics, in-fighting within IBM, and in turn loss of BPM business to competition such as Pega.

Oracle Acquisition History

Oracle started as a database company way back in 1979. Though Oracle DBMS was not the best to start with, they’ve managed to take a significant market share in DBMS over the years. Then they got into the business application market. They built some of their own, but theirs were not the best. Again they managed to gain market share mostly through acquiring several of the best ERP and CRM vendors such as PeopleSoft and Siebel. They did the same in middleware – built some of their own, made some early and smart acquisitions that are not so well known, such as Orion in 2001 for one of the first J2EE application servers and Collaxa in 2004 for one of the first BPEL implementations. They also made a number of significant acquisitions such as BEA for SOA, application server (WebLogic), BPM (Fuego) and portals (Plumtree). Among other notable acquisitions are Hyperion in BI & analytics, Stellent in ECM, and of course Sun in software, hardware, systems and storage.

In the last five years Oracle has also done numerous acquisitions in “industry solutions” such as i-flex (financial services), Retek (retail), AdminServer (insurance), Portal Software and Convergin (communications & media), Agile (industrial engineering), and Primavera (engineering & construction), among many others. The timeline below shows Oracle’s key acquisitions (though not all of them) in the past 210 years, 2001 through 2010.

The timeline below shows Oracle’s key acquisitions (though not all of them) in the past 10 years, from 2001 through 2006:

Oracle acquisitions, 2001-2006, click to enlarge

And the acquisitions from 2007 through 2010:

Oracle acquisitions, 2007-2010, click to enlarge

You can see the complete list of Oracle acquisitions by category on Oracle site at here. Certainly there will be many more interesting acquisitions to come. In fact recently it was rumored that Oracle may want to acquire EMC! Oracle would certainly need to beef up its storage offering and also VMWare, which EMC has about a 80% stake in, is of high interest for Oracle. VMWare, a leader in virtualization, a key enabling technology for cloud computing, has been a gold mine for EMC. However as the article points out, such as acquisition won’t be without its challenges. If not all of EMC, Oracle would love to get his hands on VMWare. Server and storage virtualization are critical for providing a scalable infrastructure for cloud computing. EMC also owns RSA, the security software company that provides a wide range of important security software and systems.

I may have follow up posts to this to cover a couple of recent product announcements from Oracle.