One-time Skeptic Oracle Now 100 Percent Serious About Cloud

One-time Skeptic Oracle Now 100 Percent Serious About Cloud

By Doug Barney, TMCnet Editor at Large  |  January 03, 2014

Oracle has come a long way in five years. It was at a shareholder meeting in 2008 when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (News - Alert) let loose as he often does, this time not attacking a rival, but lambasting the whole notion of the cloud.

It's ludicrous that cloud computing is going to take over the world. But they get very excited about it. It's this big echo chamber,” he said, calling the cloud “the Webvan of computing.”

The critique had much to do with how the term was being tossed about. “The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we’ve redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. 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?” Ellison asked.

Not a fan of the term, Ellison is always a fan of a good market, and felt he had no choice but to wrap his head, and his company’s engineering and marketing might around this thing called the cloud. “We'll make cloud computing announcements because, if orange is the new pink, we'll make orange blouses,” he said.

It is five years later, and now Oracle uses the word cloud proudly and makes announcements liberally. And like all major technology vendors, Oracle boasts a relatively vast cloud portfolio.

The Oracle Cloud Play

Although Ellison was just five years ago pooh-poohing the cloud, the company itself claims to have been in the cloud for over a decade, and in those early days even “pioneered the concept of accessing applications on demand.”  

And so even when Larry Ellison was dissing the cloud, Oracle had plenty of cloud offerings. Today it has a magnitude more.

One major service line is simply called Oracle Cloud, an integrated portfolio of services. This cloud already comes equipped SaaS (News - Alert) apps that include Customer Experience, Enterprise Resource Management, and Human Capital Management. These apps all include mobile, social and business intelligence functions.

These tools can be installed in-house, as part of a private cloud, and public clouds such through the Oracle Cloud itself.

So far there are some 9 million Oracle Cloud users representing some 19 billion transactions.

Additions to Oracle Cloud, made just recently, are in the areas of Application, Platform, and Infrastructure Services.

The 10 new services are, Oracle says:

Compute Cloud: Enables customers to leverage elastic compute capabilities to run any workload in the cloud. It is secure, enterprise-grade, fully configurable and provides robust monitoring capabilities.

Object Storage Cloud: Provides users with a highly-available, redundant, and secure object store for persisting large amounts of unstructured data.

Database Cloud: Provides full control of a dedicated database instance and supports any Oracle Database application, giving users greater flexibility and choice over the level of managed services provided by Oracle.

Java Cloud: Provides Oracle WebLogic Server clusters for deployment of Java applications and gives full administrative control over the service with automated backup, recovery, patching and high availability capabilities.

Business Intelligence Cloud: Enables users to analyze data with visual, interactive dashboards for the Web and mobile devices. Provides self-service data loading, modeling, analysis, and application administration capabilities in the cloud without the assistance of IT.

Documents Cloud: Provides a flexible, self-service file sharing and collaboration solution with mobile and desktop sync, robust security, and integration with on-premise and cloud applications.

Mobile Cloud: Simplifies enterprise mobile connectivity, enabling enterprises to build any application, for any device connected to any data source with enterprise-grade security.

Database Backup Cloud: Enables businesses to backup Oracle Databases to the Oracle Cloud.  Also allows replication of backups from the Oracle Database Backup Logging Recovery Appliance to Oracle Cloud.

Billing and Revenue Management Cloud: Enables enterprises with robust and highly scalable subscription billing to capture recurring revenues from new services.

Cloud Marketplace: Provides a global marketplace where partners can publish applications and customers can browse through and discover new solutions to address their business needs.”

Meanwhile, partners can hook up through the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Cloud programs.

Seeing the Oracle Cloud Portfolio

The Oracle Cloud is a broad-based set of services. But Ellison and crew have far more than that.

The biggest beast, as you might expect, is the database. Here Oracle has adapted its latest highly-scalable database to the rigors of the cloud. The new DBMS is named Oracle Database 12c, with the little ‘c’ of course standing for the big cloud.

A big part of the cloud story is multitenancy so one instance can serve multiple client organizations, or internally  a private cloud handle many departments and groups.

Analysts are lining up to applaud. Just keep in mind here that large vendors such as Oracle are likewise huge consumers of analysts’ services, so you wouldn’t exactly expect Oracle to receive a beating from researchers’ hands.

IDC analyst Carl W. Olofson likes what he sees in the new DBMS. In fact, Olofson believes Oracle solved some major problems. “Trying to realize the cloud objectives of multitenancy, elastic scalability, and resource virtualization at the OS level, though a hypervisor, is highly problematic for databases because they optimize their operation based on fixed resources and, when unaware that some resources are shared, will tend to behave badly. Thus the RDBMS core needs to be involved in delivering cloud characteristics,” Olofson argued.

Oracle’s answer was to add plugability to its database. “Users can manage databases as portable entities that can be assigned to container databases on specific servers, and then moved around at will, without changing application code. Users can tune the management of those pluggable databases at the container level. This enables a single physical database instance to manage multiple pluggable databases, each of which could represent a discrete tenant,” Olofson said.

One can see how this approach adds value to the cloud, private cloud and on-premises distributed database environments. And this is the very basis of multitenancy value. “The combination of operational isolation, and the fact that no pluggable database user can see the other databases, enables Oracle Database to satisfy the requirements of multitenancy. The fact that databases can be moved around at will means that servers are, in effect, virtualized. And so multitenancy and elements of physical resource virtualization and elastic scalability are delivered where they make the most sense — at the database level,” IDC argues.

Oracle isn’t, of course, alone in all this. All its rivals are trying to do much the same thing by adding richer cloud and in-memory abilities. Not just that, but startups and other new vendors are likewise taking aim.

Gartner (News - Alert), meanwhile, has taken particular interest in the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud. This computer processing platform aimed at supporting clouds runs Oracle Solaris OS and Oracle Linux. It also comes equipped with Infiniband for networking and has storage. The Elastic Cloud software runs on top of all this gear.

Gartner talked to customers about their experience. “Oracle Exalogic clients report notable performance, scalability and manageability benefits when running Oracle WebLogic Server workloads on the product instead of on clusters of discrete servers. One user noted a performance improvement of up to 50%,” Gartner discovered. “In the first month of Oracle Exalogic production deployment, another user ran 100 million more transactions than with the old configuration. Still another user consolidated over 100 Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) running a JBoss application on multiple servers into 16 JVMs running WebLogic Server on one four-node Oracle Exalogic platform.”

Minor Buying Spree

A large company such as Oracle, especially with all its acquisitions including Siebel and Sun Microsystems (News - Alert), should be expected to have a broad portfolio, and these days most all software portfolios are heading to the cloud, if they haven’t made it there already.  

While Oracle has a ton of cloud goodies, it can’t match the intensity of Google, Amazon, Facebook or even rival, founded by former Oracle exec Marc Benioff (News - Alert).

Playing a bit of catch up, most recent deals have been aimed right at the cloud. Last year Oracle acquired DataRaker, which does analytics in the cloud. Late this winter Oracle bought Nimbula which focused on private clouds.

Most recently the database giant scooped up BigMachines which provides what is called configure price and quote (CPQ). What this means is that BigMachines helps manage complex customer orders and pricing and automating the overall sales ordering process. Some see this as a bit of a stab back at rival, and there is clearly history between these firms that would support that assertion.

Other Cloud Genera

Oracle has existing cloud tools as it simultaneously continues to migrate on-premises tools to the more shareable platform. Here are few things the Redwood City company has in hand:

  • Oracle Supply Management Cloud
  •  Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, a cloud tool that services the entire employee lifecycle.
  •  The Customer Experience Cloud which lets clients track and control customer interactions, be they through mobile, a call center, social media, direct sales, or right there in the store.
  •  The Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud aimed and planning and finance executives.
  •  Finally Oracle has cloud tools aimed a supply chain management and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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