Speculation always seems to be fashionable at the start of a new year.  Why not engage in some regarding where Oracle is likely to focus its attention in 2011?  Before doing so, the obvious observation must be made that Oracle is currently on a roll. It appears to be poised for another year of growth, prosperity and profitability.  Almost all of its products are doing well.  At the same time, not every part of the business will see the same level of attention from management or the outside world. 

In this spirit, I offer my 2011 list of what is hot and not for Oracle.  As always, other opinions are welcome: 

What’s hot: 

  • Appliances.  It is hard to tell whether Larry Ellison is prouder of his Americas Cup or his new line of Exalogic and Exadata appliances.  Look for more in 2011.
  • Private clouds.  Ellison is hoping he can magically convince the world that his new generation of pseudo mainframes can somehow take the place of cloud computing.   Watching him try is going to be great fun.
  • Acquisitions.  Oracle is hooked on buying companies and will not likely slow down.  The theme for 2011 is most likely more hardware.  EMC might be beyond reach but a chip foundry such as AMR could easily fit into the mix.
  • Fusion Applications will finally start to be installed at real customer sites soon but we do not expect them to be heavily hyped until the next OpenWorld.
  • Unbreakable Linux is another Ellison pet project. 

What’s relatively warm: 

  • EPM, an amorphous term Oracle uses for its family of BI products.  It often is shorthand for the collection of financial packages picked up from Hyperion.
  • Java initially appeared to be the crown jewel of the Sun acquisition but has since been pushed down the priority stack.
  • Edge applications are no longer a major acquisition target but could be the basis for a serious cross-selling campaign. 
  • eBusiness Suite is the only legacy Oracle application suite that seems to get any serious love from Redwood Shores.  

Quietly simmering on the back of the stove: 

  • Database products rarely see the limelight but remain the mother of all cash cows.
  • Middleware continues to quietly thrive and grow with almost no fanfare.
  • JDE and PeopleSoft applications grind along with largely satisfied customer bases that neither demand nor get a lot of attention.
  • Solaris was ignored at OpenWorld in favor of Linux.
  • Traditional Sun servers and their SPARC processors just trudge ahead.
  • OBIA, once the crown jewel of Oracle’s BI strategy, has fallen victim to politics.  It wasn’t invented by Hyperion and is hard to sell so it gets little attention.
  • Services enjoy the benign neglect of Oracle management while HP, IBM and even Dell invest heavily in growing this facet of their businesses. 

The Sun acquisition showed that Oracle’s focus and strategy can change quickly.  I still think that come this time next year the list above won’t have changed very much.  All we will hear about in 2011 will be the things at the top of the list while the rest quietly make most of the record profits Oracle is likely to report.