Oracle fleshes out cloud plans at OpenWorld

The company will leverage its technologies to deliver a range of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS capabilities

Oracle is using the OpenWorld event in San Francisco this week to dispel lingering questions about its still-evolving cloud computing strategy.

The company plans an 'Oracle Powers the Cloud' event for tomorrow during which executives hope to hammer home Oracle's efforts to leverage its broad range of technologies in cloud environments. The event will include more than 25 sessions and 15 demonstrations focused solely on cloud computing.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Oracle has cancelled Marc Benioff's keynote at OpenWorld. | In other news from OpenWorld: Oracle still a fan of x86 despite Ellison's remark. | In the data center today, the action is in the private cloud. InfoWorld's experts take you through what you need to know to do it right in our "Private Cloud Deep Dive" PDF special report. | Also check out our "Cloud Security Deep Dive," our "Cloud Storage Deep Dive," and our "Cloud Services Deep Dive." ]

On Tuesday, an Oracle executive offered a fairly detailed overview of the company's plans to deliver software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) capabilities over the next few years.

In a session titled, Oracle Is the Technology That Powers the Cloud, Group Vice President Robert Shimp said the company's goal over the next few years is to deliver best-of-breed technologies and services at every layer of the cloud stack. To do that, it will take advantage of Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle Enterprise Manager and Oracle VM to build out a range of capabilities in the private and public cloud computing space, Shimp said.

Much of the strategy is being driven by growing adoption of cloud computing by Oracle's customers, Shimp said. A recent, yet-to-be released study by the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), for instance, showed that adoption of private clouds has increased by over 28 percent in the past year within the Oracle user base. Adoption of public clouds was even faster, with more than 50 percent growth, he said.

"There are now more new applications being deployed in the cloud by enterprise customers than extensions to existing applications," he said.

Many of Oracle's existing enterprise technologies are already cloud-ready, or soon will be, Shimp said. All of Oracle's Fusion Applications are already SaaS-enabled and can be consumed as an on-demand service within a private, public or hybrid cloud. Oracle's Fusion applications for the cloud include financial management, human resource management, supply chain management, CRM and portfolio management software, he said.

"This is by far the most comprehensive set [of applications] that will be available in the marketplace," Shimp said.

Oracle's PaaS offerings will include a range of best-of-breed products, including its Fusion applications, its core database technology, MySQL tools and a range of ID management software, he said. Oracle's PaaS offerings will run on hardware platforms optimized for specific tasks.

"We believe that in the future, the enterprise-class cloud will be built on engineered systems and not on a stack of [Intel] boxes," he said.

Meanwhile, Oracle's IaaS offerings will be based on technologies such as a new, more cloud-optimized version of the Solaris operating system, the Oracle VM virtualization technology and Oracle Linux for those who want Linux. According to Shimp, Oracle VM will offer better scalability than VMWare at "dramatically" lower costs.

Oracle's new Enterprise Manager 12c, announced this week, will constitute the company's core management technology in the cloud. It features new virtualization and cloud resource means that it has been developed for cloud environments. Oracle will roll out similar versions of its core enterprise technologies going forward, Shimp said.

"Oracle is well-positioned to establish a strong presence in cloud computing," said Yefim Natis, an analyst with Gartner. "But its current offerings are only some early precursors to what's required for market leadership."

Gartner projects that by year's-end, all major software vendors will have an entry of some sort in the PaaS market, he said. So far, at least, both Oracle and rival IBM have been silent on their plans here. But it is almost inevitable that they will get into the space.

"The PaaS layer in the cloud architecture defines the standards and establishes the ecosystems" in cloud infrastructures, Natis said. "Ambitious vendors want to control these as the means to market influence and leadership. The PaaS providers that gather the largest ecosystem of independent software vendors will be the PaaS and cloud software leaders by 2014."

Rob Enderle, an independent analyst, expressed skepticism about Oracle's ability to grow in the cloud using its own technologies. "Oracle is still approaching the concept of the cloud as if it was a hosting environment. While it is very similar, it isn't the same thing."

Cloud computing environments are a commoditized version of hosting environments and Oracle isn't structured to do commoditized products, Enderle said. "Their margin goals are too high."

Instead, the better approach for Oracle may be to acquire a vendor that already has some capabilities in this space, much as EMC did with its Mozy purchase in 2008, Enderle said.

"I think Oracle will likely need to do the same thing if they want to truly play here," he said. "They are doing a decent job of covering up the fact they don't yet have a true cloud strategy."

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His email address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

Read more about cloud computing in Computerworld's Cloud Computing Topic Center.

This story, "Oracle fleshes out cloud plans at OpenWorld" was originally published by Computerworld .

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