Oracle, like contemporaries Microsoft, Cisco Systems and EMC, was a closed shop for most of its history, informing customers that it was either the Oracle way or the highway.
Those times are going, going, gone. These old-school IT companies finally have come around to realizing that software and services for the 21st century must be modular, built on open standards and much more compatible with other components inside a data center and in a cloud.
The trend continues, but Oracle bucked it a bit March 24 when it launched a new group of tools that enable enterprises to run what amounts to a virtual cloud system inside a proprietary Oracle physical server.
At a customer event in Washington, D.C., the database giant unveiled Oracle Cloud at Customer, a package of its publicly available but previously slow-selling cloud software that will run only on a new physical server called the Oracle Cloud Machine.
Cloud and On-Premises Use Same APIs
A Cloud Machine runs the same APIs as the Oracle public cloud, enabling an enterprise to run what amounts to a virtual private cloud inside a firewall in its data center. But the software is designed to run only on the Oracle Cloud Machine, so the new products must be purchased as a package.
There are certainly advantages to this, for customers and for Oracle—which has seen its server sales slip, slip and slip again over the last six years it's been in the hardware business. It mandates sales of a server instance—or racks of them—to those who are already in an Oracle environment or to potential new customers who are looking to invest in a well-established IT vendor that can provide everything at once: databases, middleware, storage, analytics, the cloud and the hardware on which to run everything.
Buying and deploying data centers has become so complicated in recent years with various vendors, servers, storage, networking, and accompanying services that more and more companies are simplifying their purchasing by going with one main vendor—knowing full well that they are playing with fire in terms of vendor lock-in. But many enterprises now are willing to take that chance to simplify their IT lives.
For customers, this allows more choices (on- or off-premises, using all the same equipment) of how to deploy workloads. This is particularly noteworthy for the regulated industries (government, military, financial services, oil and gas exploration, scientifics) to which Oracle sells much of its hardware and software.
Data Center or Managed Service, Take Your Pick
In the data center, this is a fully locally managed system. In the cloud, it becomes a fully managed Oracle service. But it uses all the same software and APIs; switching back and forth as needed is a real plus.
Oracle said its Cloud at Customer package is the first offering from a major public cloud vendor to deliver a stack that is 100 percent compatible with the Oracle Cloud but also available on-premises. Thus, customers can use it for a number of use cases, including disaster recovery, elastic bursting, dev/test, lift-and-shift workload migration, and a single API and scripting tool kit for DevOps, the company said.
Users can also boot up separate clouds running on Oracle Linux, Red Hat, Windows and other operating systems, Oracle said.
The Oracle Cloud Machine uses Intel X5 processors—not Oracle-Sun's own Sparc chips, by the way—and comes in three versions: v288, v576 and v1080, which provide storage capacities of 2TB, 4TB and 7.5TB, respectively. It features local solid-state storage, network-attached storage (if desired) and 10GB Cisco Systems switching. It fits into a data center rack just as any standard 19-inch server box would.
By using Oracle Cloud in a data center, customers can:
- have full control over their data and meet all data sovereignty and data residency requirements that mandate customer data remain within a company's data center or contained within a geographic location, while still taking advantage of the benefits of the cloud;
- enable workload portability between on-premises and cloud, using identical environments, toolsets, and APIs;
- easily move Oracle and non-Oracle workloads between on-premises and the cloud, based on changing business requirements; and
- comply with security and privacy regulations such as PCI-DSS for the global credit and debit card industry, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for the U.S. healthcare industry, FedRAMP for the U.S. federal government, Germany's Federal Data Protection Act, the United Kingdom's Data Protection Act, and other industry- and country-specific regulations.
As a managed service, Cloud at Customer features:
- Infrastructure: Provides elastic compute, elastic block storage, virtual networking, file storage, messaging, and identity management to enable portability of Oracle and non-Oracle workloads into the cloud. Additional Internet as a service elements that complete the portfolio, including Containers and Elastic Load Balancer, will be available soon.
- Data management: Enables customers to use the Oracle database to manage data infrastructure in the cloud with the Oracle Database Cloud. The initial set of Database Cloud Service offerings will be followed by Oracle Database as a Service: Exadata for extreme performance and a broad set of Oracle Big Data Cloud services, including Big Data Discovery, Big Data Preparation, Hadoop and Big Data SQL.
- Application development: Users can develop and deploy Java applications in the cloud using Oracle Java Cloud, soon to be followed by other services for polyglot development in Java SE, Node.js, Ruby and PHP.
- Enterprise integration: Simplifies integration of on-premises applications with cloud applications, and cloud application to cloud application integration, by using the Oracle Integration Cloud Service. Additional capabilities for service-oriented architecture, API management and IoT will be added soon.
- Management: Unifies the experience of managing workloads seamlessly on-premises and in the Oracle Cloud.
Oracle said its cloud is now supporting 70 million-plus users and recording more than 34 billion transactions each day. It runs in 19 data centers around the world.