SAN FRANCISCO—Real change takes a long time to play out, even in this era of Uber and unicorns, hyper-growth and “failing fast.”
Cloud computing is the new paradigm, obviously, but whose cloud computing vision will prevail over the long term is still up for debate. Oracle has some bold opinions about that future, and this week at OpenWorld here executives hammered home a technology strategy to fit that vision.
In 10 years, 80 percent of all production apps will be in the cloud, predicted CEO Mark Hurd, who added that all enterprise data will be stored virtually in the cloud by 2025. But as big as cloud computing has grown so far, Oracle cautions, the cloud is still a long way from being fully embraced by businesses.
“You can say this will be a 10-year transition—and that’s certainly when the biggest changes will take place—but I think the coexistence [with the cloud] will go on forever,” said Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison. “This big period of transition and essential coexistence will be a huge issue over the next decade because customers really want the public cloud to look like their data center, and their data center to really look like their public cloud.”
A decade is a long time when measured in Amazon Web Services years, but it’s not a cop-out to say that the transition to the cloud will take 10 more years. Oracle knows how entrenched its customers are with on-premises computing. Even with reputed hard-core sales tactics, they know they can’t rush things. Large enterprises are moving, and will move to the cloud, but they want to do it on their terms.
“Customers are telling us they want to do cloud where that’s appropriate, and they want to do on-premises where that’s appropriate, but they want to manage all of that as one single thing: easy to manage, fully compatible, with the ability to quickly and easily move workloads back and forth,” Ellison said.
In the big picture, Oracle and its customers are still in the middle of a decades-long journey interrupted by a brief cloud-bashing period that began 20 years ago when Ellison’s big idea was three-tier computing and the thin client. Today, Ellison’s network computing vision has essentially morphed into the standard cloud model.
Oracle spent the past 10 years rewriting everything for the cloud, execs said, and building out collections of platform services. At OpenWorld, the company rolled out new platform-as-a-service (PaaS) services including the Application Container Cloud and the Developer Cloud Service, along with updates to the Oracle Application Development Framework and its Mobile Application Framework. For its software-as-a-service (SaaS) application layer, the company announced 183 new modules.
This week Oracle said it has “switched on” infrastructure services, with compute nodes, object storage (based on OpenStack Swift), archive storage and networking services.
Oracle Says It’s Cloud Strategy Is Ready to Take On AWS, the World
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is merely an extension of what Oracle already offers behind the scenes, Hurd said. “IaaS is important, but it is being pulled by our success in SaaS and PaaS,” he said. “In the end, suites win.”
The crux of the infrastructure strategy, officials said, is that wherever the applications are running—on premises, hosted or in the public cloud—the platform is the same and everything is already integrated, which makes switching from on premises to the cloud easier when the time comes.
Oracle vs. AWS: The New Rivalry
With switching to the cloud in mind, Oracle is fixated with Amazon Web Services. In his keynote, Ellison went so far as to say Oracle’s real competition going forward is AWS, rather than traditional rivals IBM or SAP. He and Hurd promised that Oracle will compete on price with AWS for infrastructure services.
A lot of that is just talk: Oracle’s main task is to retain customers who want to migrate to the cloud and to prevent them from jumping to AWS. The pitch is all things being equal, it’s easier to stay with Oracle than make a huge disruptive transition to AWS.
AWS, as opposed to Oracle, had to build from the bottom up, but it is adding more to its platform every day, including services like Aurora that are aimed right smack at Oracle’s customers. It seems that the two companies are destined to meet somewhere in the middle. Ellison and Hurd each gave nods to Amazon as best of breed and the market leader for infrastructure services, but they are not conceding anything on the rest of the cloud.
At the end of the day, we come back to the notion of hybrid cloud, which is starting to become a meaningless term. Every vendor has a hybrid enterprise strategy, especially Microsoft, Salesforce, VMware and IBM.
There is more than one path to the future of computing, but the goals are the same, which is a “hybrid,” and purging as much IT from the on-premises enterprise as enterprises are comfortable with. It’s definitely going to take awhile. As Ellison said, it could go on forever.
Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture, at TechTarget. Before that, he was the director, Editorial Operations, at Ziff Davis Enterprise. While at Ziff Davis Media, he was a writer and editor at eWEEK. No investment advice is offered in his blog. All duties are disclaimed. Scot works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.