In early 2005, Oracle Corp. was an enterprise IT systems giant with no telecom-specific products of which to speak, though its widely used database technology meant it had a supplier relationship with just about every communications service provider (CSP) in business.
Then Oracle just went telco crazy. It signaled its intent to target the CSP market with the purchase in 2005 of high-performance database specialist TimesTen, which was the foundation of some of the earliest real-time billing systems, and followed that by swallowing Siebel, one of the major suppliers of CRM (customer relationship management) systems to CSPs.
Oracle then got more specific. Starting small (with service delivery platform specialist Hotsip AB) but moving fast, Oracle embarked on an almighty M&A spree and effectively built itself a position as one of the leading suppliers of Service Provider IT (SPIT) systems in the world. By the end of 2006 it had acquired billing systems specialist Portal Software for US$220 million, snapped up a few more telecom software minnows and splashed another $219 million on OSS vendor MetaSolv. (See Oracle Buying Into Service Delivery, Oracle Acquires Portal and Oracle Buys More OSS With MetaSolv.)
It went on to acquire application server specialist BEA Systems for $8.5 billion in early 2008 and then cited significant telecom market opportunities as one of the drivers for its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2009. (See Oracle's Higher Price Lands BEA and Oracle/Sun Expresses Telco Ambitions.)
That wasn't enough, though. It continued to pick up specialist firms such as service broker specialist Convergin before reminding the market of its financial firepower in early 2013 with the acquisitions of Acme Packet for $1.7 billion and Tekelec for an undisclosed sum. (See Oracle Snaps Up Tekelec and Oracle to Acquire Acme for $1.7B.)
Just as remarkable as that M&A splurge is the fact that the same person, Bhaskar Gorti, has been running the Oracle Communications division for much of that time: He joined the software giant as part of the 2006 acquisition of Portal Software, where he was CEO. With so many significant acquisitions since he took the helm of the division, you have to wonder if Gorti has an M&A addiction.
But if he does have a bit of a shopping habit, the powers that be (aka Larry Ellison) seem to be happy enough to indulge him. And he must have been hitting his numbers for the seven or so years, or surely Ellison would have eaten him for lunch in between one of his boating expeditions.
That's quite an empire Gorti now runs, so Light Reading grabbed the opportunity to meet with him and Gordon Rawling, senior director of regional marketing at Oracle Communications, at London's Paddington Hilton hotel recently over a tepid cup of tea. (Gorti bought that as well!)
In this first part of the interview, he talked about: the current make-up of Oracle Communications, an extensive organization and probably the biggest Service Provider IT (SPIT) company in the world; the trends in the broader industry that are affecting his customers and his strategy, including the shift towards software-oriented network architectures; and Big Data/analytics.
In Part II, you can read about: Gorti's views on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) and the impact those trends are having on the industry and his business; the competitive landscape; sales strategies; and where Oracle Communications can go next.
What was clear from the meeting is that, following this year's acquisitions of Acme Packet and Tekelec, Gorti is focused on how to pitch his business as a rival to the large network equipment manufacturers (NEMs), now that he has network elements as well as supporting software and IT assets to pitch to the CSPs: He took pretty much every opportunity he could to position Oracle as the open, helpful, friendly face of the supplier community while at the same time characterizing the NEMs as the snake-oil salesmen of the telecom world.
He is also supremely confident -- some might say over confident -- that the current trend towards network virtualization provides opportunities, rather than threats, to the telecom software part of his business. (See NFV in the Cloud: It's Complicated.)
But as the communications sector becomes more heavily influenced by its IT and software components and given the influence that Oracle can assert on the market, due to its sheer size and financial/portfolio firepower, it would be strange if Gorti was anything but confident.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
On page 2: Gorti talks about the scale of the business and the areas covered.