Oracle Watch: New Server, New Rumors
Oracle is in the headlines this week, not for the Evolved Communications Application Server it introduced for the mobile voice market, but for something its co-CEOs say it's not doing: buying Salesforce.com.
Wall Street types are all aflutter over the likelihood that Salesforce.com Inc. , the leading cloud-based CRM provider, is in play after a Bloomberg News report this week said the company is working with financial advisers following a buyout inquiry.
The likely suitor is Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), say most, because of Oracle's interest in expanding its role in the cloud and the relationship between the two companies as rivals and strategic partners that goes right up to the top: Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff formerly worked at Oracle and has been critical of the company and his former boss, Executive Chairman Larry Ellison.
Oracle's current CEOs, Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, held a Media Day Thursday and Catz told the press her company would be better off if someone else -- such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), another rumored suitor -- bought Salesforce.com, because of the market disruption it would cause. Given Oracle's repeated public statements of its cloud intentions, the implication is that a big deal like the acquisition of Salesforce.com would slow two rivals, given Oracle an opportunity to gain ground.
Against the backdrop of that major market buzz, Oracle's product news this week didn't get much attention, but it is a significant product addition. The Evolved Communications Application Server seeks to bring out-of-the-box capabilities for VoLTE and VoWiFi to a market that is starting to take off.
It supports enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity, which means calls remain stable when consumers travel from LTE environments into 3G/2G, but as importantly it includes an intuitive design center that lets service providers upgrade services and add voice applications using simpler interfaces, without the need for software coding. That means faster time to market and more opportunities for service differentiation, says Chris King, senior director of network and analytics product marketing.
The existing Oracle Communications Converged Applications Server was aimed at mobile service providers that wanted to build their own VoLTE services but increasingly service providers wanted an "out-of-the-box" VoLTE capability, he says.
"We have come to the realization that service providers, in order to meet their time-to-market needs, would require more of a pre-built set of services that the standards community has defined," King says. "But one of the things we also recognized was that turning up VoLTE and having it support only standardized services would result in a commodity voice offering."
By combining out-of-the box capabilities with easy upgrades, Oracle intends to hit a sweet spot of easy-to-deploy services that are easy to differentiate as well.
For example, King cites the standard requirement that mobile customers can refuse to take any incoming calls that are anonymous -- i.e., the calling number is blocked. The Oracle Evolved Communications Application Server would modify the call flow so that when a call comes in from a blocked number, the caller would hear a recording that alerts them to fact their call won't be completed and gives them the option of identifying themselves.
"So the consumer receiving the call hears that recording, 'Hey, it's Joe Smith and I found your car keys,' and is given the option to accept that call," King says.
Because the Oracle server is already set up to run on virtual machines, it helps mobile operators move a step closer to network function virtualization with their voice offerings. It is set up already to be managed by a VNF manager as part of a broader ecosystem, King says.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading