Reimagining Startup and Enterprise Innovation

A Decade at a Tech Giant ... 10 Years So Far

I recently passed a significant milestone. In early 2009 I landed a job at Oracle. 10 years later, I’d like to share some personal reflections from a decade at a tech giant and why I’m still here.

For context, I joined Oracle in an era when Great Britain had no tennis Grand Slam contenders. January 2009 was pre-iPad, pre-bitcoin, pre-AWS reserved instance model. In 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, the movie Avatar was released and Lady Gaga exploded onto US and UK charts.

18 months after finishing university and working for a small business in the UK, I took my first steps into building 510 on Oracle’s Thames Valley Park campus. Ties were a little more optional at this point, but everyone wore a suit. I was excited to start a job at a large organization and pleased to discover that there was complementary fruit juice in every kitchen, on every floor of the building! I had made it to the big leagues! A colleague showed me around and we wandered down to the Security Office for the obligatory photo. My badge was ready for collection at the end of the day. By the way, a quick hint to my corporate colleagues, if your security badge or LinkedIn profile photo is 10 years old (we all know by the way!), it’s time for an update.

I have had a number of roles within my career at Oracle and I’m now part of the team delivering the Oracle for Startups program, an accelerator initiative for startups. When I get the chance to speak with founders, I often share my observations of Oracle’s evolution and trajectory. It’s been an amazing journey and I believe we’re just getting started!

There will be a range of opinions and perceptions out there about Oracle. I’ll leave licensing practices for another debate! Here’s what I’ve observed historically. Even Oracle’s most bitter opponents generally agree that the technology has always been world-leading in terms of capability. Oracle’s hallmarks have long been ‘enterprise-grade’ security, scalability and availability. For a long time, ‘complete, open, integrated’ captured the engineering vision behind Oracle software.  The delivery mechanism has changed (more about cloud later), but the commitment to excellence in technology has not.

Oracle is a highly acquisitive company. This has significantly shaped our business and the technology stack. A year into my career at Oracle, 2010 saw the acquisition of Sun Microsystems. I think this was met with confusion by many in the industry and curiosity by visionaries who began to piece together the potential jigsaw that would emerge years later. From Java and MySQL right down to tape storage, Sun came with a lot of significant building blocks and represented a key shift in Oracle’s evolution as a business. Combining software from Oracle and hardware from Sun (or was it HP initially?!), Oracle made huge investments in the Appliance / Converged Infrastructure market with an expansive family of ‘Engineered Systems’; optimized solutions, engineered to simplify IT.  

Significant application acquisitions were ‘before my time’ including, JD Edwards, Siebel and Peoplesoft. Undoubtedly ‘legacy’ but given an enduring roadmap under what Oracle has labeled an “Applications Unlimited” strategy. There are numerous examples of Oracle’s respect for heritage, as well as a forceful pursuit of what is next. I argue that our history enables our future. It’s difficult to single out the most important acquisitions in recent years; there have been several. Netsuite? Dyn? Eloqua?... Each came with its own story to build into the narrative.  When Oracle acquired Vitrue in 2012, Oracle’s Social Relationship Management capabilities gained a boost. More importantly, in my opinion, we gained founder Reggie Bradford plus a team that had successfully built multiple startup businesses. Reggie spearheaded Oracle’s fledgling efforts to engage with the startup ecosystem around the world. Reggie sadly passed away last year. A bold, envisioned team continues to build on the foundation laid under his leadership.

The highest priority in recent years has been Cloud. I’ll be candid, Oracle was late to the Cloud party and we’ve mostly stopped pretending otherwise, certainly in terms of Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure (IaaS). Two important points on this. Firstly, Google was late to the Search Engine party. However, they got it right and no one has asked Jeeves for anything in a long time! Secondly, Oracle’s Cloud engineering effort in recent years has been phenomenal. Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure capabilities (and price list) are not only on par with better known public Cloud providers but now in our - albeit biased - opinion, decisively outstrips the competition.

In the last decade at a tech giant, I’ve witnessed and been part of an extreme transformation. I’m not referring to my dress code alone. In 10 years, Oracle have continued to build upon foundations of world-class engineering and a mission to simplify technology, enabling innovators. Additionally, thanks in no small part to revolutionary shifts in Cloud, Oracle has become relevant and valuable not only to the largest of corporate customers but also to the emerging businesses who will shape the coming years. What will the next decade bring?

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