Oracle & Cloud Computing

Posted by Optimation Editor on 18 June 2011

What is Oracles cloud strategy? Having wondered this myself I decided to attend the Oracle Enterprise Cloud Computing Seminar in Wellington.

What grabbed my attention straight away was how Oracle now seems to be taking a firm position on the cloud computing trend, reversing its earlier scepticism around cloud computing and its viability.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison famously denigrated cloud computing, declaring it a new name for existing technologies and not a fundamental shift, all the while ignoring the success of Amazon Web Services and companies like Google and Salesforce.com in delivering Cloud services. Despite that, it appears that Oracle has decided there is value in adopting what is quickly becoming the dominant IT trend for the next decade and re-inventing itself as a cloud computing player.

Oracles cloud computing strategy is now to offer a breadth of alternatives both for private and public cloud adopters. Oracle’s offering provides enterprises with a high degree of flexibility which is comforting for organisations that have not yet determined their cloud strategy.

Oracle demonstrates its breadth and flexibility by offering ‘Oracle on Demand’ (Software as a Service (Saas)) and Oracle PaaS (Oracle VM, Weblogic, Oracle Database and RAC), provided by the likes of Amazon and Rackspace. Oracle also says that its technology can be either deployed in private or public clouds. An example of this is the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) configured with Oracle.

Where I see Oracle gaining an advantage over its competition is in the private cloud. I believe this is also where Oracle sees they currently have the most to offer. I base this observation on how the seminar was heavily focused on private cloud computing. Platform as a Service (Paas) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) were heavily focused on with little time given to SaaS and the offerings from Oracle in this space.

Oracle's acquisition of Sun has provided Oracle with the capability to deliver Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) installations that are 100% Oracle, and it will deliver its applications and middleware as either "private Software as a Service" inside the enterprise or as services consumed directly from Oracle. This is further evidence of the direction Oracle seem to be taking.

It is in the PaaS and IaaS layers of cloud computing that Oracle now has what I consider a compelling proposition for enterprises wishing to implement a private cloud. Enterprises are able to purchase hardware pre-installed, configured and optimised for Oracle software providing lower costs, greater control over security, compliance and quality of service.

Oracle has used its acquisition of Sun and the IP gained to fill out its cloud computing portfolio, using Sun servers for hardware and making Java a linchpin of programming between infrastructure, Oracle middleware and applications. This now provides Oracle with control of the entire stack enabling Oracle to provide the Exadata and Exologic machines as “Cloud in a Box” that are preconfigured and optimised for the Oracle stack claiming performances increases of 10x.

Oracle ‘Cloud in a Box’

Cloud in a Box certainly makes sense from a cloud IaaS providers or Enterprise IT teams point of view where there are plans to build new dynamic data centers. It does provide a higher level of unit abstraction to build next generation data centers. It takes care of lot of IT dirty work of connecting servers, storage and networking pieces along with back chassis and channels and certainly offers a lot of OpEx savings.
From a SaaS and PaaS point of view internal IT are able to offer resources in similar way to the public cloud and charge back the business units based on usage. This presents a shift in budgetary responsibility as IT budgets can be assigned by business unit, project or overall annual requirements. But cloud computing, as a centralized IT resource charged on a usage-based billing model, blurs traditional budgetary lines, reviving the concept of the IT function charging its costs back to individual departments. As to how charge back can be implemented for a private cloud I will save that for a future blog, but what is clear is that providers can offer their internal services and charge in a similar way to the public cloud and Oracle provide measuring capabilities to enable this.