Oracle sheds bright red branding but maintains database narrative and competitor assault at OpenWorld

A rebranded Oracle aims to improve interactions with customers and partners, but not AWS

At Oracle OpenWorld, the similarities between the renovations to the venue and to Oracle’s brand were undeniable. The Moscone Conference Center, which has been home to Oracle’s annual event for years, underwent remodeling to improve traffic flow and implement modernizations that Oracle used to showcase its own updated user flow and look. Underneath these branding and operational changes, much of the core building blocks remained the same, with some expansions and evolutions.

A new Oracle: Rebranding and partnerships

The most obvious updates came in the form of the company’s new Redwood brand identity, which consists of a more diverse color palette, including an updated shade of Oracle Red, as well as customized Oracle font, textures, illustrations and other visual elements. The intent of the design element changes was to portray a more modern, diverse and ultimately repositioned Oracle experience. The key phrase Oracle employees used to summarize this shift was “more human,” with clear acknowledgement of not only the long-standing negative perception around the Oracle customer experience but also the many operational changes being made behind the visual rebrand to support a change in engagement. Core to this shift are the new Oracle mission statement and an even greater focus on customer successes stories to frame Oracle’s new approach. These stories were most evident in the solution keynotes and marketing investments, such as advertisement takeovers on The Wall Street Journal and Forbes websites, among other mediums.

Arguably part of this rebrand, and definitely part of the change in how Oracle is engaging across the customer and partner landscapes, was the emphasis with which Oracle announced deeper engagements with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), VMware (NYSE: VMW) and the ISV ecosystem as a whole.

  1. Oracle highlighted its June partnership with Microsoft to enable multicloud deployments across both vendors’ cloud services through data-center-specific direct connections. This service was originally made available in Virginia, and availability in London was announced at the conference. The pair intends to further extend these capabilities to U.S. government regions in the Western U.S. as well as in Asia and other European regions in the future. As Oracle workloads had been certified to run on Microsoft Azure in 2014, this expansion enables customers to leverage Azure services while utilizing Oracle’s Autonomous Database. The companies also announced integrations between Microsoft Teams and the new Oracle Digital Assistant, which was developed to support user interaction with business systems that use different language than what is typical for consumer assistants.
  • Additionally, Oracle announced it has partnered with VMware to bring VMware Cloud Foundation to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), similar to VMware’s partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS; Nasdaq: AMZN) and Microsoft Azure, enabling customers to run VMware-based workloads on its bare metal instances. Oracle CTO and Chief Executive Larry Ellison argued the company’s alliance with VMware will enable a truer “lift and shift” of VMware-based workloads from on-premises to OCI with “virtually no change” when the solution becomes available in 4Q19 due to its configuration of bare metal services. The pair also announced unified support for workloads running VMware and Oracle technology together.
  • To better support the ISV ecosystem, Oracle announced the immediate availability of unified billing on the Oracle Cloud Marketplace. This addition of a “paid listing” classification goes beyond free listings and Bring Your Own License (BYOL) listings, where the OCI resources were paid separately from free or licensed software, enabling customers to pay for third-party solutions in per-hour increments and using Oracle universal credits. Beyond simplifying customer solutions purchasing, OCI deployment and complete workload billing, enabling the use of Oracle’s universal credits to pay for third-party software positions Oracle’s sales efforts and quotas to support the growing ISV ecosystem.

Additionally, Oracle and Deloitte announced a new alliance at the conference by launching ELEVATE. The alliance will work to execute the goals of Oracle’s consulting business to automate cloud migrations to Oracle Autonomous Databases and OCI through Oracle Soar, Destination PaaS and IaaS. By leveraging Deloitte’s professional services organization and its cloud discovery and automation platform, Oracle will expedite and smooth migrations to protect, and presumably expand, its existing customer base as customers migrate more critical enterprise workloads to cloud environments.

Oracle implores enterprises to adopt its uniquely architected cloud stack

Oracle reinforces its cloud stack to accelerate enterprise cloud adoption

Oracle has a strong portfolio of cloud applications that are proving competitive in the market against more narrowly focused or less integrated SaaS competition. Oracle’s core platform and infrastructure businesses, however, are proving a harder sell, implied by financial results and qualitative context, despite significant innovations over recent years. The tone of Oracle OpenWorld 2018 mirrored its overall performance: The company is well positioned and executing in cloud application adoption initiatives, and is well positioned but facing stalling sales in the infrastructure business.

Applications updates were minimal but valuable

As Oracle executives pointed out, Oracle has been able to position itself well in the SaaS market by buying and building applications across both front- and back-office functional areas, leaving few holes in its horizontal applications portfolio. This relatively comprehensive portfolio, particularly across the back office with integrated ERP and Human Capital Management (HCM) suites, positions the company well as more customers look to adopt cloud applications — both voluntarily to achieve efficiencies, and under duress to plan migrations as other vendors’ on-premises products are given end-of-support deadlines. Strengthening the value of its applications at the annual event, Oracle announced artificial intelligence (AI)-based capability additions to its ERP and HCM portfolios, including chatbots, recommendation engines and process automation. Oracle also enhanced select supply chain management applications with blockchain-enabled tracking and controls to increase value for customers. These advancements add value for customers but do not significantly alter Oracle’s back-office portfolio.



Oracle’s (NYSE: ORCL) annual conference, Oracle OpenWorld 2018, took a different tone than in recent years. With corporate focus narrowed around the cloud portfolio, and key product foundations already in place, keynotes and announcements were more focused on improvements to existing applications and the database and infrastructure architecture underpinning all cloud services. This year’s event doubled down on themes of past years, including Oracle CEO Mark Hurd’s previous keynotes concerning macroeconomic trends and predictions for the cloud market, and introduced a panel of distinguished U.S. and U.K. security personnel that painted a bleak cybersecurity picture, subtextually in support of a secure, single-vendor cloud stack that Oracle is positioning itself to best address.