Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who is shuffling top execs
Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who is shuffling top execs

How Larry Ellison Is Shuffling Top Execs to Spark Next-Gen Oracle Cloud

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The startling revival of Oracle’s cloud business has taken an intriguing twist as Larry Ellison has reassigned former cloud-infrastructure chief Don Johnson to reimagine how all of Oracle’s cloud capabilities can be deployed to drive greater value for customers.

In a well-written news article yesterday, Geekwire revealed that Ellison has given Johnson’s former role as leader of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to rising star Clay Magouryk.

While that move certainly has important implications, I was much more intrigued by the potential that Johnson’s new role could give him the opportunity to redefine the traditionally siloed cloud realms of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

Oracle has significant businesses in all three layers of the cloud.

  • In IaaS, its new OCI has begun growing rapidly of late and is a likely Ellison’s top priority (for more on that, please see Larry Ellison’s Miracle: Oracle Becomes Big-Time Cloud Infrastructure Player).
  • In PaaS, Oracle has a full suite of platform technologies and services. On top of that, Ellison has looked to strengthen his OCI business by moving his new cloud-native Autonomous Database out of the PaaS category where databases have always resided and plunking it down in IaaS. That provides clear evidence that Ellison is willing to reshuffle the old industry-centric taxonomy of the cloud to align more closely with customer requirements, and it is possible that Ellison has asked Johnson to reimagine the next wave of cloud services for Oracle.
  • In SaaS, Oracle has one of the broadest and deepest sets of apps in the world. While it’s not the largest SaaS provider—that title belongs to Salesforce, or possibly to Microsoft (remember, “it depends”)—it has a powerful presence in cloud ERP and cloud HCM along with a full range of other SaaS apps.

So how might Johnson look to orchestrate a customer-centric overhaul of all those cloud assets?

Here’s the relevant excerpt from the Geekwire article about that:

Johnson said in a June 30 email to his team that he will remain at Oracle, reporting to Ellison and focusing on the company’s broader cloud mission.

“This has been the eventual plan for a long time,” Johnson wrote in the memo. “Clay was the first person I hired here at Oracle, we built OCI together and have been driving it in tandem from the start. As he’s stepped into a broadening leadership role, steering both technology and the business, it was clear that Clay is the right person to lead OCI into the future.”

In explaining his new role, Johnson signaled Oracle’s bigger ambitions.

“Oracle’s position in the cloud landscape, simplistically, is that we offer a marriage of the best cloud infrastructure, and leading data platform, together with the most pervasive cloud applications. No one else does this, or realistically, can do this as we can. The full realization of this vision is that Oracle provides the most complete cloud platform to build on and to operate your entire business.”

Two examples reveal how Oracle has already begun to rewrite the rules of the cloud and is likely, given Johnson’s new role, to continue doing so.

  • As noted above, Ellison has—all on his own—reclassified his Autonomous Database as part of Oracle’s OCI business. And he’s made the decision that Autonomous Database will run exclusively on OCI. So anyone who wants the new self-driving database—and the demand for it will be enormous—will also automatically become customers of Oracle infrastructure. 
  • In a big product introduction last month, Ellison revealed that Oracle is now bundling every single cloud asset it offers into a single package and offering that in a version running inside a customer’s data center. No other tech vendor offers anything remotely like this—and it shows, again, how aggressive Ellison intends to be in deploying what Oracle has in unique new ways to help it become a major force in all layers of the cloud.

And from what the Geekwire article revealed, it looks like Don Johnson is going to be Larry Ellison’s agent of change in making that happen.

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