Don't laugh: Oracle could be a serious cloud contender

Last week's OpenWorld announcements were surprisingly impressive, but Oracle must do more to lead, not just follow

Last week, at its OpenWorld conference, Oracle announced 10 additional cloud services, to join its existing set of SaaS offerings. The new services include Compute Cloud and Object Storage Cloud, essentially clones of Amazon Web Services' offerings. The other 10 services follow much the same pattern, including a marketplace service that looks a lot like Salesforce.com's AppExchange, Java Cloud, and Mobile Cloud. Oracle's moves may bring to mind that annoying kid in algebra who copied your homework 10 minutes before class.

It's obvious that these services, like the other ones Oracle announced at OpenWorld, are responses to the movements of the other cloud computing providers. Oracle is merely following its cloud rivals.

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Oracle being Oracle, most of its customers will follow it through thick and thin. But I believe those customers would strongly prefer Oracle to be innovative, not imitative, in the fast-growing world of cloud computing.

Oracle has some great achievements to build on, including existing cloud services that no one has heard about or talks about but are actually decent works. Backed by solid technology, Oracle's database business has its hooks into most major Global 2000 companies for good reason.

By and large, however, Oracle has largely been a joke in the cloud, relative to its size and ability to impact the market. Initially Oracle seemed to push back on the concept of cloud computing, but now is playing catch-up by replicating others' popular cloud services in the hopes that the Oracle brand and thousands of white-belted salespeople will cause these services to pick up steam.

It no longer works that way.

I'm telling Oracle the same thing I tell other large companies that believe they can copy their way to success in the cloud: You have to figure out how to be innovative in this space, meaning you must build a product that others have yet to think up. If you show up late and replicate, chances are you won't claim much of the market, and your brand will take a hit.

I'm sure Oracle won't listen to me -- but it should.

This article, "Don't laugh: Oracle could be a serious cloud contender," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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