Oracle Finally Takes Full Plunge Into Cloud Computing Services

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2013-09-25

Oracle Finally Takes Full Plunge Into Cloud Computing Services

SAN FRANCISCO—The red cloud has finally fully enveloped Oracle. After years of an off-again, on-again relation with the cloud computing concept, Oracle acknowledged the necessity of being a full-service player in the cloud and is offering its entire range of database, compute and applications in cloud configurations.

While Oracle is offering up its support for cloud capabilities, it is not yet discussing prices or delivery dates for the full range of cloud services.

The cloud announcements were scheduled to be made by Larry Ellison at the company’s OpenWorld customer conference. However, when Ellison had to decide between appearing on stage to make the announcements or watching his team’s boat compete in the final rounds of the America’s Cup races, the boat won.

You can hardly blame him since Oracle Team USA has made a highly improbable comeback to tie the racing series 8 to 8 after losing 8 of the first 11 races in the best of 17 series. Meanwhile it’s opponent, Team Emirates New Zealand, had been poised to win the America’s Cup for the past week of racing if it could have only managed to win one more race. Now it will all come down to a final race here on San Francisco Bay on Sept. 25.

Ellison’s speaking engagement was taken over by Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle product development.

The cloud support from Oracle has ramifications which go beyond the technology shift. The company now faces a sales shift as business managers at many enterprises are making the cloud application decisions for their operations. The human resource manager makes the human capital management cloud decisions and sales managers make the sales applications decisions. CIOs and IT departments have a support role, but are not the key decision-makers.

In addition, Oracle will now face the prospects of selling both on-premise, hardware-based systems and cloud-based systems. On-premise systems are traditionally capital equipment purchases whereas cloud applications tend to be subscription-based purchases.

While Oracle executives said they were not ready to reveal pricing, those executives said the pricing will be competitive with other cloud services. The difficulty of offering both hardware-based on-premise systems and cloud-based alternatives has tripped up other vendors and requires reorganizing—and in some cases dividing—sales organizations to call on different parts of customer organizations. Oracle hopes to differentiate its cloud offerings by offering full management including patches, updates and back-ups.

The Oracle cloud applications have been sold for three years and now reach more than 21 million users, according to Oracle. At this year’s event the company added new cloud database and platform services. Oracle now offers the application services, social services, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service. “We are the only cloud that gives you all these capabilities,” said Kurian, adding, “It gives you, our customers, a platform to transform IT.”

Oracle Finally Takes Full Plunge Into Cloud Computing Services

The capabilities of Oracle platform as a service include database, database backup, Java, developer, mobile, document management, business intelligence and cloud marketplace. The platform as a service is touted as using the same technology on-premise or in the cloud. The platform services are integrated with the application; it is the same software as used on-premise.

With Oracle database cloud service you can get a dedicated database instance running on the compute service. Oracle will manage the database, including patches and upgrades, which the company feels will differentiate it from other cloud vendors offering Oracle databases. But Oracle requires users to maintain the upgrades, backups and other services. The company will provide three tiers of services including basic, managed and maximum availability.

The company also announced Java as a service. Oracle will offer a dedicated WebLogic cluster on compute services. The Java service will offer elastic load balancing and Oracle manages the backup, patches and the WebLogic instance. Again, Oracle managing the Java service is a feature the company feels will set it apart from other services.

“You focus on the app, we take care of the infrastructure,” said Kurian. “We are trying to make your IT department heroes in your company."

The Oracle cloud environment offers single sign-on and a single source of cloud management. “It is the same software in the cloud and on-premise,” Kurian said.

The company also announced infrastructure as a service consisting of storage, compute, identity, cache and messaging. The storage service targets cloud and on-premise clients and can be accessed through OpenStack Swift APIs. The second service is a compute service which includes a range of compute APIs. The company supports OpenStack for deployments. The compute environments are fully isolated.

The Oracle announcements followed a presentation by Microsoft which discussed Microsoft’s Oracle offerings in the Windows and Linux environment via the Azure environment. Those offerings are still in the beta mode but will move to general availability “within months.”

Oracle decision to embrace the management aspects of the cloud will favor customers looking to develop an all-Oracle cloud environment, rather than a mix-and-match approach to cloud services. It will also make it difficult to switch out of the Oracle cloud should the environment prove too expensive or fails to meet customers’ expectations.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008 authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.

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