Oracle Corporation specializes in developing and marketing enterprise software products — particularly database management systems. In 2007 Oracle ranked third on the list of largest software companies in the world, after Microsoft and IBM.
The corporation has arguably become best-known due to association with its flagship Oracle database. The company also builds tools for database development, middle-tier software, enterprise resource planning software (ERP), customer relationship management software (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM) software.
The founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, Larry Ellison, has served as Oracle's CEO throughout the company's history. Ellison also served as the Chairman of the Board until his replacement by Jeffrey O. Henley in 2004. Ellison retains his role as CEO.
Ellison took inspiration from the 1970 paper written by Edgar F. Codd on relational database systems named "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks".
He had heard about the IBM System R database from an article in the IBM Research Journal provided by Ed Oates (a future co-founder of Oracle Corporation). System R also derived from Codd's theories, and Ellison wanted to make his Oracle product compatible with System R, but IBM stopped this by keeping the error codes for their DBMS secret. Ellison co-founded Oracle Corporation in 1977 under the name Software Development Laboratories (SDL). In 1979 SDL changed its name to Relational Software, Inc. (RSI). In 1982, RSI renamed itself as Oracle Systems
to align itself more closely with its flagship product Oracle Database. At this stage Robert Miner served as the company's senior programmer.
- June 16, 1977: Oracle Corporation incorporated in Redwood Shores, California as Software Development Laboratories (SDL) by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates.
- June 1979: SDL renamed to "Relational Software Inc." (RSI), and relocated to Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, California. Oracle 2, the first version of the Oracle database software, as purchased by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, runs on PDP-11 hardware. The company decides to name the first version of its flagship product "version 2" rather than "version 1" because it believes customers might hesitate to buy the initial release of its product.
- October 1979: RSI actively promotes Oracle on the VAX platform (the software runs on the VAX in PDP-11 emulator mode)
- 1981 Umang Gupta joined Oracle Corporation where he wrote the first business plan for the company and served as Vice President and General Manager
- February 1981: RSI begins developing tools for the Oracle Database, including the Interactive Application Facility (IAF), a predecessor to Oracle*Forms.
- March 1983: RSI rewrites Oracle in C for portability and releases Oracle version 3. RSI takes the name "Oracle" in order to align more closely with its primary product. The name Oracle came from the code name of a CIA project which the founders had all worked on while at the Ampex Corporation.
- April 1984: Oracle received additional funding from Sequoia Capital.
- October 1984: Oracle version 4 released, introducing read consistency
- November 1984: Oracle database software ported to the PC platform. The MS-DOS version (4.1.4) of Oracle runs in only 512K of memory. (Oracle for MSDOS version 5, released in 1986, runs in Protected Mode on 286 machines using a technique invented by Mike Roberts, among the first products to do so.)
- April 1985: Oracle version 5 released — one of the first RDBMSs to operate in client-server mode.
- 1986: Oracle version 5.1 released with support for distributed queries. Investigations into clustering begin.
- March 12, 1986: Oracle goes public with revenues of $55 million USD.
- August 1987: Oracle founds its Applications division, building business-management software closely integrated with its database software. Oracle Corporation acquires TCI for its project management software.
- 1988: Oracle version 6 released with support for row-level locking and hot backups. The developers embedded the PL/SQL procedural language engine into the database but made no provision to store program blocks such as procedures and triggers in the database - this capability came in version 7. Users could submit PL/SQL blocks for immediate execution in the server from an environment such as SQL*Plus, or via SQL statements embedded in a host program. Oracle Corporation included separate PL/SQL engines in various client tools (such as SQL*Forms and Reports).
- 1989: Oracle Corporation moves its world headquarters to Redwood Shores, California. Revenues reach US$584 million
- 1990: In the third quarter, Oracle reports its first ever loss; it lays off hundreds of employees. Ellison hires Jeffrey O. Henley as CFO and Raymond Lane as COO.
- June 1992: Oracle 7 released with performance enhancements, administrative utilities, application-development tools, security features, the ability to persist PL/SQL program units in the database as stored procedures and triggers, and support for declarative referential integrity
- 1993: Oracle Corporation releases its "Cooperative Development Environment" (CDE), which bundles Oracle Forms, Reports, Graphics, Book
- 1994: Oracle acquired the database-product DEC Rdb (now called Oracle Rdb) from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Oracle Rdb operates only on the OpenVMS platform (also a former product of DEC).
- June 21, 1995: Oracle Corporation announces new data-warehousing facilities, including parallel queries.
- November 1995: Oracle becomes one of the first large software companies to announce an Internet strategy when Ellison introduces the network computer concept at an IDC conference in Paris
- April 1997: Oracle releases the first version of Discoverer, an ad-hoc query tool for business intelligence (BI).
- June 1997: Oracle 8 released with SQL object technology, Internet technology and support for terabytes of data
- September 1997: Oracle Corporation announces its commitment to the Java platform, and introduces Oracle's Java integrated development environment, subsequently called "Oracle JDeveloper".
- January 1998: Oracle releases Oracle Applications 10.7 Network Computing Architecture (NCA). All the applications in the business software now run across the web in a standard web browser.
- May 1998: Oracle Corporation releases Oracle Applications 11
- April 1998: Oracle announces that it will integrate a Java virtual machine with Oracle Database.
- September 1998: Oracle 8i released.
- October 1998: Oracle 8 and Oracle Application Server 4.0 released on the Linux platform.
- May 1999: Oracle releases JDeveloper 2.0, showcasing Business Components for Java (BC4J), a set of libraries and development tools for building database-aware applications.
- 2000: OracleMobile subsidiary founded. Oracle 9i released.
- May 2000: Oracle announces the Internet File System (iFS), later re-branded as Oracle Content Management SDK
- June 2000: Oracle9i Application Server released with support for building portals.
- 2001: Ellison announces that Oracle saved $1 billion implementing and using its own business applications
- 2004: Oracle 10g released.
- December 13, 2004: After a long battle over the control of PeopleSoft, Oracle announces that it has signed an agreement to acquire PeopleSoft for $26.50 per share (approximately $10.3 billion).
- January 14, 2005: Oracle Corporation announces that it will reduce its combined workforce to 50,000, a reduction of approximately 5,000 following the take-over of PeopleSoft. Oracle Corporation plans to retain 90% of PeopleSoft product-development and product-support staff.
- March, 2005: Oracle Corporation extends its operations in the Middle East by opening a regional office in Amman, Jordan.
- September 2005: Oracle Corporation announces that it has agreed to acquire the private company Global Logistics Technologies, Inc., a global provider of logistics and transportation managements software (TMS) solutions, through a cash offer.
- September 12, 2005: Oracle Corporation announces its purchase of Siebel Systems, a producer of customer relationship management (CRM) technologies and an important provider of business intelligence software, for $5.8 billion.
- April 12, 2006: Oracle Corporation announces that it has agreed to acquire Portal Software, Inc. (OTC BB: PRSF.PK), a global provider of billing- and revenue-management solutions for the communications and media industry, through a cash tender offer for $4.90 per share, or approximately $220 million.
- October 25, 2006: Oracle Corporation announces Unbreakable Linux
- November 2, 2006: Oracle Corporation announces that it has agreed to acquire Stellent, Inc. (NASDAQ: STEL), a global provider of enterprise content management (ECM) software solutions, through a cash tender offer for $13.50 per share, or approximately $440 million.
- December 15, 2006, a majority of MetaSolv stockholders approved Oracle's acquisition of MetaSolv Software, a provider of operations support systems (OSS) software for the communications industry.
- 2007: Oracle releases oracle 11'g' version.
- March 1, 2007: Oracle announces that it has agreed to buy Hyperion Solutions Corporation (Nasdaq: HYSL), a global provider of performance-management software solutions, through a cash tender offer for $52.00 per share, or approximately $3.3 billion. The acquisition officially ended on July 1, 2007.
- March 22, 2007: Oracle files a court case against its major competitor SAP AG in the Californian courts for malpractice and unfair competition. The full text of the filing appears on the claimant's web-site under the heading "newsroom".
- October 12, 2007: Oracle announces that it has made a bid to buy BEA Systems for a price of $17 per share, an offer rejected by the BEA board, which felt that it undervalued their company
- October 16, 2007: Oracle confirms the impending departure of John Wookey, senior vice president for application development and head of its applications strategy, raising questions concerning the planned release and future of Oracle's Fusion Applications strategy.
- January 16, 2008: Oracle announces it will buy BEA Systems for $19.375 per share in cash for a total of "$7.2 billion net of cash".
- 1979: offers the first commercial SQL RDBMS.
- 1983: offers a VAX-mode database.
- 1984: offers the first database with read consistency.
- 1986: offers a client-server DBMS.
- 1987: introduces UNIX-based Oracle applications
- 1988: introduces PL/SQL.
- 1992: offers full applications implementation methodology.
- 1995: offers the first 64-bit RDBMS.
- 1996: moves towards an open standards-based, web-enabled architecture.
- 1999: offers its first DBMS with XML support.
- 2001: becomes the first to complete 3 terabyte TPC-H world record.
- 2002: offers the first database to pass 15 industry standard security evaluations.
- 2003: introduces what it calls "Enterprise Grid Computing" with Oracle10g.
- 2005: releases its first free database, Oracle Database 10g Express Edition (XE).
- 2006: becomes the global leader in CRM technologies by virtue of its takeover of Siebel Systems.
RDBMS release timeline
- 1978: Oracle version 1
- 1979: Oracle version 2
- 1982: Oracle version 3
- 1984: Oracle version 4
- 1986: Oracle version 5
- 1989: Oracle version 6
- 1993: Oracle version 7
- 1997: Oracle version 8
- 1999: Oracle version 8i
- 2001: Oracle version 9i
- 2003: Oracle version 10g
- 2007: Oracle version 11g
As became apparent with Peoplesoft in January 2005, Oracle has made acquisitions an important component of its growth strategy.
Products and services
In 2004 Oracle Corporation shipped release 10g ("g" standing for "grid") as the then latest version of Oracle Database. (Oracle Application Server 10g using Java EE integrates with the server part of that version of the database, making it possible to deploy web technology applications. The application server comprises the first middle-tier software designed for grid computing. The strong interrelationship between Oracle 10g and Java has enabled the company to allow developers to set up stored procedures written in the Java language, as well as those written in the traditional Oracle database programming language, PL/SQL.)
Release 11g has started to replace release 10g.
BerkeleyDB offers embedded database processing.
Oracle Rdb, a relational database system, runs on OpenVMS platforms. Oracle acquired Rdb in 1994 from Digital Equipment Corporation. Oracle has since made many enhancements to this product and development continues today.
TimesTen features in-memory database operations.
Oracle Fusion Middleware
Oracle Enterprise Manager
Some database administrators (DBAs) use Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) to manage the DBMS. With Oracle Database version 10g, Oracle Corporation introduced a web-based rewrite of OEM called "Oracle Enterprise Manager Database Control". Oracle Corporation has dubbed the super Enterprise Manager used to manage a grid of multiple DBMS and Application Servers as "Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control".
Oracle Secure Enterprise Search
From 2008, Oracle Beehive provides an integrated set of collaborative software services built on a single, scalable, open, and enterprise-class collaboration platform.
Oracle Collaboration Suite
Oracle Collaboration Suite contains messaging, groupware and collaboration applications.
Oracle Corporation's tools for developing applications include Oracle Designer, Oracle Developer - which consists of Oracle Forms, Oracle Discoverer and Oracle Reports, Oracle JDeveloper - and several more. Many external and third-party tools make the Oracle database administrator's tasks easier.
Besides databases, Oracle also sells a suite of business applications. The Oracle eBusiness Suite includes software to perform financial- (Oracle Financials), manufacturing-, enterprise resource planning and HR- (Human Resource Management Systems) related functions (Oracle HR). Users can access these facilities through a browser interface over the Internet or via a corporate intranet.
Consequent to a number of high-value acquisitions beginning in 2003, especially in the area of applications, Oracle Corporation currently maintains a number of product lines:
Development of applications commonly takes place in Java (using Oracle JDeveloper) or through PL/SQL (using, for example, Oracle Forms and Oracle Reports). Oracle Corporation has started a drive toward "wizard"-driven environments with a view to enabling non-programmers to produce simple data-driven applications.
- Oracle Consulting
- Oracle University
- Oracle On Demand
- Oracle Support
- Product support: Oracle Corporation identifies its customers and their support entitlements using CSI (Customer Support Identifier) codes. Registered customers can submit Service Requests (SRs) — usually via the web-accessible MetaLink interface or (as from September 2008) from its super-set: "My Oracle Support".
- Critical Patch Updates: since 2005, Oracle Corporation has grouped collections of patches and security fixes for its products each quarter into a "Critical Patch Update" (CPU), released each January, April, July and October.
- Oracle Financing
In 1990 Oracle laid off 10% (about 400 people) of its work force because of a mismatch between cash and revenues. This crisis, which almost resulted in Oracle's bankruptcy, came about because of Oracle's "up-front" marketing strategy, in which sales people urged potential customers to buy the largest possible amount of software all at once. The sales people then booked the value of future license sales in the current quarter, thereby increasing their bonuses. This became a problem when the future sales subsequently failed to materialize. Oracle eventually had to restate its earnings twice, and also to settle out of court class-action
lawsuits arising from its having overstated its earnings. Ellison would later say that Oracle had made "an incredible business mistake."
Although IBM dominated the mainframe relational database market with its DB2 and SQL/DS database products, it delayed entering the market for a relational database on UNIX and Windows operating systems. This left the door open for Sybase, Oracle, and Informix (and eventually Microsoft) to dominate mid-range and microcomputers.
Around this time, Oracle technology started to lag technically behind that of Sybase. In 1990-1993 Sybase became the fastest-growing database company and the database industry's darling vendor, but soon fell victim to its merger mania and to technical issues with System X. Sybase's 1993 merger with PowerSoft resulted in its losing its focus on its core database technology. In 1993, Sybase sold the rights to its database software running under the Windows operating system to Microsoft Corporation, which now markets it under the name "SQL Server."
In 1994 Informix Software overtook Sybase and became Oracle's most important rival. The intense war between Informix CEO Phil White and Ellison made front-page news in Silicon Valley for three years. Ultimately, Oracle defeated Informix in 1997. In November 2005 a book detailing the war between Oracle and Informix appeared. The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White provides a detailed chronology of the battle of Informix against Oracle, and how Informix Software's CEO Phil White landed in jail because of his obsession about overtaking Ellison.
Once it had overcome Informix and Sybase, Oracle Corporation enjoyed years of dominance in the database market until the rise of Microsoft's SQL Server in the late 1990s and IBM's acquisition of Informix Software in 2000 (to complement its DB2 database). Today Oracle's competes for new database licenses on UNIX, Linux, and Windows operating systems primarily against IBM's DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server (which only runs on Windows). IBM's DB2 still dominates the mainframe database market.
In 2004, Oracle's sales grew at a rate of 14.5% to $6.2 billion, giving it 41.3% and the top share of the relational-database market (InformationWeek - March, 2005), with market share estimated at up to 44.6% in 2005 by some sources.
Oracle Corporation's main competitors in the database arena remain IBM DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server, and to a lesser extent Sybase and Teradata , with open-source databases such as PostgreSQL and MySQL also having a significant share of the market. EnterpriseDB, based on PostgreSQL, has recently made inroads by proclaiming that its product delivers Oracle compatibility features at a much lower price-point.
In the software applications market, Oracle Corporation primarily competes against SAP. On March 22, 2007 Oracle sued SAP, accusing them of fraud and unfair competition.
Oracle and SAP
Oracle Corporation and the German SAP AG
had a decade-long history of cooperation. This cooperation began in 1988, with the integration of SAP's R/3
enterprise application suite with Oracle's relational database products. The marketplace regarded the two firms' products as complementing one another, rather than as substitutes. Despite the current SAP partnership with Microsoft, and the increasing integration of SAP applications with Microsoft products (such as SQL Server
, a competitor to Oracle Database), Oracle and SAP continue their cooperation, and according to Oracle, the majority of SAP's customers use Oracle databases.
In recent years, however, competition between Oracle and SAP has increased, and as a result, the rivalry between the two companies has grown, even developing into a feud between the co-founders of the two companies, where one party would frequently voice strong negative comments about the other company.
In 2004 Oracle began to increase its interest in the business of enterprise applications (in 1989, Oracle had already released Oracle Financials). A series of acquisitions by Oracle Corporation began, most notably those of PeopleSoft, Siebel and Hyperion).
SAP recognized that Oracle had started to become a competitor in a market where SAP had the leadership, and saw an opportunity to lure in customers from those companies that Oracle Corporation had acquired. SAP would offer those customers special discounts on the licenses for its enterprise applications.
Oracle Corporation would resort to a similar strategy, by advising SAP customers to get "OFF SAP" (a play on the words of the acronym for its middleware platform "Oracle Fusion for SAP"),
and also by providing special discounts on licenses and services to SAP customers who chose Oracle Corporation products.
Currently Oracle and SAP also compete in the third-party enterprise software maintenance and support market (the latter through its recently acquired subsidiary TomorrowNow). On March 22, 2007 Oracle filed a suit against SAP. The complaint alleged that TomorrowNow, which provides discount support for legacy Oracle product lines, used the accounts of former Oracle customers to systematically download patches and support documents from Oracle's website and to appropriate them for SAP's use.
Some analysts have suggested the suit could form part of a strategy by Oracle Corporation to decrease competition with SAP in the market for third-party enterprise software maintenance and support.
On July 3, 2007 SAP admitted that TomorrowNow employees had made "inappropriate downloads" from the Oracle support web site. However, it claims that SAP personnel and SAP customers had no access to Oracle intellectual property via TomorrowNow. SAP's CEO Henning Kagermann stated that "Even a single inappropriate download is unacceptable from my perspective. We regret very much that this occurred." Additionally, SAP announced that it had "instituted changes" in TomorrowNow's operational oversight.
- as of 2008: "The Information Company" or "Oracle is The Information Company"
- "Information driven"
- for the Oracle Database: "Can't break it, can't break in" or "Unbreakable"
In 2000 Oracle gained attention from the computer industry
and the press after hiring private eyes to dig through the trash of organizations involved in a antitrust trial involving Microsoft
The Chairman of Oracle Corporation, Larry Ellison, staunchly defended his company's hiring of an East Coast detective agency to investigate groups that supported rival Microsoft Corporation during its antitrust trial, calling the snooping a "public service". The investigation reportedly included a $1,200 offer to janitors at the Association for Competitive Technology to look through Microsoft's trash. Asked how he'd feel if others were looking into Oracle's business activities, Ellison said: "We will ship our garbage to Redmond, and they can go through it. We believe in full disclosure.
"Can't break it, can't break in"
Oracle Corporation markets many of its products using the slogan "Can't break it, can't break in", or "Unbreakable". This signifies the increasing demands on information safety. Oracle Corporation also stresses the reliability of networked databases and network access to databases as major selling points.
However, two weeks after its introduction in 2002, David Litchfield, Alexander Kornbrust, Cesar Cerrudo and others demonstrated a whole suite of successful attacks against Oracle products.
Commentators criticized the slogan as unrealistic, and as an invitation to crackers. But Oracle Corporation's chief security officer Mary Ann Davidson portrayed the criticism as unfair. Rather than representing a literal claim of Oracle's products' impregnability, she saw the campaign in the context of fourteen independent security evaluations that Oracle Corporation's database server passed.
Relationship with John Ashcroft
Then-United States Attorney General John Ashcroft
sued Oracle Corporation in 2004 to prevent a contract acquisition. Then, in 2005, Oracle hired Ashcroft's recently-founded lobbying firm, The Ashcroft Group, LLC. Oracle, with Ashcroft's lobbying, then went on to acquire the contract, a multi-billion dollar intelligence application.
Oracle Corporation has its world headquarters on the San Francisco Peninsula in the Redwood Shores area of Redwood City, adjacent to Belmont, near San Carlos Airport (IATA airport code: SQL).
Oracle HQ stands on the former site of Marine World Africa USA, which moved from Redwood Shores to Vallejo in 1986. Oracle Corporation originally leased two buildings on the site, moving its finance and administration departments from the corporation's former headquarters in Davis Drive, Belmont, California. Eventually, Oracle purchased the complex and constructed a further four main buildings.
The Oracle Parkway buildings featured prominently as the futuristic headquarters of the fictional company "NorthAm Robotics" in the Robin Williams film Bicentennial Man (1999).
On October 20, 2006 the Golden State Warriors
and the Oracle Corporation announced a 10-year agreement in which the Oakland Arena would become known as the Oracle Arena
Note also Larry Ellison's yachting sponsorship using the "Oracle" name: Oracle BMW Racing.
Bruce Scott, one of the first employees at Oracle (then Software Development Laboratories), subsequently co-founded Gupta Technologies
(which later became Centura Software) in 1984 with Umang Gupta, and later became CEO and founder of PointBase, Inc. Bruce served as the co-author and co-architect of Oracle V1, V2 and V3. He originated the sample schema "SCOTT" (containing tables like EMP and DEPT) with the password defaulted to TIGER (apparently named after his cat).
In 1997, Larry Ellison became a director of Apple Computer after Steve Jobs came back to that company. Ellison resigned in 2002, saying that he did not have the time to attend necessary formal board meetings.
- On May 14, 2005 a Saturday Night Live skit referenced Oracle Corporation. The skit involved Will Ferrell as a team leader at an Oracle summit/convention. Ferrell's character did song parodies that reflected Oracle.
- Part of Oracle Corporation's early success arose from using the C programming language to implement its products. This eased porting to different operating systems (most of which support C). This gave Oracle Corporation an advantage over companies that used operating-system-specific languages. Oracle Corporation programmers wrote the first C compiler for the IBM mainframe platform in order to port to that platform.
- The closest airport to the Oracle World Corporate Headquarters, San Carlos Airport, uses the IATA code "SQL". This coincidence has nothing to do with the SQL Language: the airport acquired its code well before the founding of the Oracle Corporation.
- On August 22, 2008 AP ranked founder Larry Ellison as the top-paid chief executive despite a poor representation of stock-holder value and performance.