Oracle CEO Larry Ellison may like to race yachts out on the open ocean, but on the subject of cloud computing, the database captain of the world seems lost at sea.
At least that's what it seems like on the outside, but it's likely all just a good-natured shot across the bow of everyday media hype.
At Oracle OpenWorld last week, held Sept. 21 to 25, Ellison upbraided the marketing and hype around cloud computing, in which customers host their applications and other data on another vendor's infrastructure and access them online, despite the success that Google, Amazon Web Services, IBM and others have had in leveraging the Web for business opportunities.
For example, in this giddy post by Ben Worthen for the Wall Street Journal, Ellison eviscerated cloud computing:
"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop? We'll make cloud computing announcements. I'm not going to fight this thing. But I don't understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing other than change the wording of some of our ads. That's my view."
Oracle could not be reached for comment. I have issues with Ellison's comments, but first let me note that it's true that so many companies are attaching the cloud moniker to their platforms.
Several companies are taking products they originally created as on-premises solutions and porting them to the cloud, or putting them online for customers to access. These businesses are doing it partly because of marketing, but they also look at companies such as Google and Salesforce.com and believe the cloud is the future of computing.
When Ellison says the cloud has come to encompass "everything that we already do," he has a point. What many of us call the cloud now was known as grid or utility computing from about 2000 until the cloud euphemism floated to the surface of this world of Web 2.0, another maligned phrase.
When Ellison says Oracle will make announcements around cloud computing, he intimates it's because Oracle needs to keep up with the marketing hype. In fact, Oracle's actions suggest that the cloud model is part of a fundamental shift in enterprise computing.
Oracle embraced the cloud model Sept. 22 when it said customers could license Oracle Database 11g, Oracle Enterprise Manager and Oracle Fusion Middleware to run on Amazon.com's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). Oracle also embraces cloud computing's little sister, SAAS (software as a service).
Oracle could be thinking about survival with such moves, according to Pund-IT analyst Charles King.