Oracle is planning to roll out a new IaaS (infrastructure as a service) offering that will compete directly with Amazon Web Services, along with a service called Oracle Public Cloud that runs inside customers' facilities, CEO Larry Ellison announced Sunday during a keynote address at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.
While Ellison had already revealed the company's general plans in recent public remarks, he went into further detail during Sunday's keynote. In addition, a slide displayed during his presentation stated that the new IaaS' "primary competitor" is Amazon.
[ In other news from OpenWorld, Oracle says Java upgrades still worthwhile despite postponed features. | Move over, Amazon -- IaaS providers are elbowing into the cloud. See how they compare in InfoWorld's slideshow. | Stay on top of the current state of the cloud with InfoWorld's special report, "Cloud computing in 2012," and Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]
One big question Ellison didn't address is how competitive either IaaS option will be with AWS on cost. Nor did he provide an availability date for Oracle's service.
Oracle had previously rolled out its Fusion Applications and a PaaS (platform as a service) from its cloud, but found that customers wanted the IaaS layer, which provides raw compute power and storage, as well, Ellison said.
"The infrastructure that we're offering isn't conventional," he added. "It's not plain old commodity infrastructure."
Oracle's IaaS will include its operating system and virtualization technologies, and is powered by the company's Exadata, Exalogic and SuperCluster machines.
Although the offering will apparently aim directly for AWS customers, Ellison didn't make any direct criticisms of the company.
Instead, Ellison spent some time giving audience members a primer on the cloud computing concept as well as the curve of Oracle's thinking on the matter.
"The fundamental architecture of cloud computing is really a utility model that has been with us for 100 years or more," he said. "It looks exactly like the architecture of an electric utility. All of this is enormous, capital intensive stuff but it's managed by the electric utility and provided to the consumer as a service. The user simply plugs in to get it. All the capital costs are borne by the utility."
"We decided to get into cloud computing back in 2004, when we started our Fusion Applications project," he added. "It took us a long time to build a suite of cloud applications and the underlying suite for those applications. We had to build the platform first before we could really build the CRM applications that run in the cloud, the HCM applications that run in the cloud."
Ellison's mostly understated delivery of these comments stood in contrast to his past mockery of cloud computing as older technologies renamed and laden with fresh hype.
Overall, his keynote seemed to cement Oracle's commitment to the cloud computing market in all its flavors, or at least a recognition that it needs to have a viable offering at every level and to meet all customers' tastes.
To the latter end, Oracle announced the Oracle Private Cloud. It's the identical infrastructure [of the public IaaS] on our floor or your floor," he said. "You can't tell the difference. The software is identical in both places."
Oracle will own and manage the infrastructure as it's installed on the customer's site, behind their firewall, with fees paid as a monthly charge according to usage. Extra capacity could be added flexibly, and Oracle's public IaaS could also provide excess headroom, Ellison said.
Ellison also stressed that the Oracle Private Cloud is able to run other Oracle software besides Fusion Applications, such as E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and Siebel.
This ability to have workloads span public and private clouds could give Oracle a selling edge against AWS.
It's not clear what will become of the many AWS Amazon Machine Images for Oracle software that have been available for some time, now that Oracle is set to roll out a competing service.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.