The ugly truth: Oracle still doesn't get the cloud

At OpenWorld this week, it's clear that Oracle is a follower rather than a leader in cloud computing

Now that Oracle OpenWorld is under way, the press releases from Oracle will come fast and furious. This includes speculation that Oracle may unveil its own platform-as-a-service offering, setting it in competition with Microsoft's Azure, Salesforce.com's Heroku, and Engine Yard.

In other words, 2009 called. It wants its cloud strategy back.

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The movement to the cloud has not been as easy as Oracle thought it would be when it jumped in last year. Despite Oracle's dominance in the enterprise database and platform space, many of those who move to the cloud (private, public, or hybrid) do not include Oracle in their plans.

This trend was validated in a GigaOm article noting the fact that most of those who move to the cloud are looking to avoid Oracle's hefty software and hardware bills. They opt instead for open source or other less costly solutions to build and deploy their clouds.

The core problems with Oracle's cloud computing strategy are that it is late to the party and doesn't really get the value of cloud computing. Cloud computing is about doing things differently, including how you manage data, processes, and storage. Oracle's goal is to make sure that things are done the same way, which means keeping customers on Oracle technology.

Oracle shoves its proprietary approaches to computing into boxes that are relabeled as "cloud," then it charges a fee that probably averages a million dollars for most of its customers for the privilege. Oracle's hope is that its customers are so hooked on the Oracle way of doing things that they will find this the easiest path to the cloud.

However, as enterprises define their cloud computing strategies, Oracle will be quickly forgotten. The enterprise software and hardware behemoth has been relegated to a legacy role. Its products are still peddled by quota-carrying salespeople who roam the halls of corporate America and the government. That's not how the cloud is sold.

How can Oracle fix this legacy problem? I assume it will snap up cloud technology providers like crazy until it has enough market share to be satisfied. However, I suspect even that won't buy Oracle a cloud pass.

Oracle needs to commit to being an innovator once again: focus on areas that have been ignored by IBM, Microsoft, and even the emerging public cloud providers. But it will likely remain business as usual at Oracle, and it'll be "me too"-ing its way to the cloud. If Oracle stays on this route, it will become irrelevant. Nobody will care. I know I won't.

This article, "The ugly truth: Oracle still doesn't get the cloud," 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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