Much like almost every other tech company more than a decade old, Oracle continues to navigate in the tricky new world of cloud-deployed software. Recently, Oracle has been buying companies that have expertise in delivering software from their own servers on a subscription basis. That’s a big change from selling databases for an upfront fee that run on customer servers and are updated every few years. But as serious as Oracle has been about adding new business software, its ace-in-the-hole remains its flagship database. Now Oracle offers more than one way to deploy it. On a March 2016 earnings call, execs said 350,000 customers run Oracle’s database in-house, but that any number may start moving some of that work to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure. The risk is that they can also run Oracle databases on Amazon and Microsoft clouds, and that those two clouds offer other database choices. Oracle claims big gains in cloud-related software sales but it’s unclear if and when they will offset declining sales of old-style (but very profitable) software licenses.
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