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Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd capitalises on market fear in keynote speech

It’s a sign of how much influence Larry Ellison still has at Oracle that, as chief technology officer, his keynote comes before co-CEO Mark Hurd’s.

Hurd, taking the stage on the second day of Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, California this week, discussed the challenges facing businesses today and how the Oracle Cloud could help solve them.

Looking at the global economy, enterprise IT is in a “pretty poor” state, growing at a maximum of one per cent per year. Consumer IT, though, is performing about 20 per cent better (although that’s still less than a 1.5 per cent growth).

The intention of Hurd’s fearmongering was to convince people that they are safer in Oracle’s gentle hands

The general business world isn’t in a good way, either, argued Hurd. Half of the Fortune 500 have vanished since 2000, including Blackberry, Borders, Kodak and Blockbuster.

This volatility is accelerating, and Hurd expects half of the current list to be gone by the mid-2020s, although he didn’t give any hot stock tips, he simply bluntly stated: “A lot of companies are going out of business.”

Hurd was quick to capitalise on the fear in the room during his speech, following a string of data breaches, most recently at credit reference agency Equifax.

He reminded delegates that risk management is now a fundamental corporate pillar, and that security needs to be the top of everyone’s concerns. That was his cue to dive into cloud promotion, saying that patching could become a thing of the past once everyone has migrated to the cloud – putting the burden on the industry, not the end-user.

The intention of Hurd’s fearmongering was to convince people that they are safer in Oracle’s gentle hands.

He used the example of the CEO of a large bank who he’d talked to recently, who was worried that the time it took his organisation to patch Oracle’s software – up to five months – left them vulnerable. “I thought that was pretty good!” Hurd joked.

Patching is challenging because of the diverse array of complex, inter-connected systems that need to be managed, tested and sometimes shut down to complete the patching process.

Consumers don’t care about that, though – they just need to know that their data is safe. Oracle’s cloud rivals – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google – are increasingly boasting about the security benefits of their platforms to convert potential customers, and Oracle recently launched its Automated Database, which aims to solve exactly this issue.

If security is lax, Hurd stressed, heads will roll – and not just the IT team’s. The average CEO’s tenure is now down to 18 quarters (4.5 years), although the severance terms are not to be sniffed at. 

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Before parading the usual slew of Oracle customers onstage – including, this time, Uber-rival Lyft, retailer Gap and parcel delivery firm FedEx – Hurd took a moment to channel Jimmy Kimmel, reading mean tweets about the predictions that he’s made at Oracle OpenWorlds over the last five years.

With a very smug look, he responded to them with data from IDC and Cisco (not “the Mark Hurd research team,” he stressed), which appeared to support or go even further than his own claims. 

Further reading

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