2016 has seen Oracle spend almost $2 billion on cloud-specific organizations, as the tech giant continues efforts to transform the Oracle business focus to the burgeoning cloud market. While Oracle could be seen as one of the industry’s elder statesmen, efforts in the M&A market are seemingly paying off as PaaS and SaaS continues to demonstrate healthy growth to compensate for the dwindling legacy business units. The team have also outlined plans to make strides in the IaaS market segment.
Growth in the SaaS and PaaS business has been accelerating in recent years as CEO Safra Catz quoted 20% growth in 2014, 34% in 2015, and now 52% over the course of FY 2016. Q4 gross margin for SaaS and PaaS was 57%, up from 40% during the same period. The progress of the business would appear to be making healthy progress, and Catz does not seem to be content with the current growth levels. The team have ambitions to raise gross margin to 80% in the mid-term, as well as seeing cloud year-on-year revenue growth for Q1 FY 2017 of 75% to 80%.
“For most companies as their business grows, the growth rates go down,” said Catz. “In our case, as the business grows, the growth rates are continuing to increase. Now, as regard to our cloud revenue accounting, we have reviewed it carefully and are completely confident that it is a 100% accurate and if anything slightly conservative.”
Moving forward, CTO Larry Ellison highlighted the team plan on driving rapid expansion of the cloud business. The Oracle team are targeting growth rates which would double that of competitors as its ambition is now to be the first SaaS company to make $10 billion in annual revenue. The team are not only targeting the customer experience markets, but also the Enterprise Resource Management and Human Capital Management segments, where it believes there will be higher growth rates.
“We’re a major player in ERP and HCM,” said Ellison. “We’re almost the only player in supply chain and manufacturing. We’re the number one player in marketing. We’re very competitive. We’re number one – tied for number one in service.”
Secondly, the team will also be aiming to facilitate growth through expanding it IaaS data centre focus, which is currently an ‘also ran’ part of the cloud business. Ellison claims Oracle is in a strong position to grow in this area, having invested heavily second generation data centres, as well the potential for the combination of PaaS and IaaS for the company’s installed base of database customers, helping them move to the cloud.
“And we built, again, the second generation data centre, which we think is highly competitive with anything out there lower cost, better performance, better security, better reliability than any of our competitors, and there’s huge demand for it, and we’re now starting to bring customers into that,” said Ellison. “We think that’s another very important driver to Oracle for overall growth.”
The last few years have seen a considerable transformation in the Oracle business, as it has invested considerably in the development of new technology, as well as acquisitions, seemingly hedging its bets to buy its way into the cloud market. The numbers quoted by Catz and Ellison indicate there has been some traction and the market does seem to be reacting positively to the new Oracle proposition.
In terms of the IaaS market, success in this area will remain to be seen. Although Oracle has the potential to put considerable weight behind any move in this market, it is going to be playing catch up with some noteworthy players, who have cash themselves. Whether Oracle has the ability to catch the likes of AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google, as well as the smaller players in the market, remains to be see, though its success in the SaaS and PaaS markets does show some promise.