Let the cloud-to-cloud sniping begin

Oracle's potshot at Salesforce.com is counterproductive -- and a sign of things to come

CEO Larry Ellison is trying to define the essence of the cloud, which is a marked departure from his past rage against the cloud computing machine. As InformationWeek reported, "[Ellison] said Oracle's new 'cloud in a box' is different from Salesforce.com, which is not really cloud computing because its applications aren't virtualized. Furthermore, he contended, Salesforce.com's use of multitenancy represents 'a weak security model' and threat to the privacy of its customer's data."

First, the facts for those in the enterprise looking at the cloud to solve real business problems: SaaS systems don't have to use virtualization to be secure; in many instances, virtualization is not only unnecessary but also counterproductive. The architecture and enabling technology, such as virtualization, depends on what type of cloud you're building. There is no mandatory technology checklist. Perhaps Ellison is trying to push down the price of Salesforce.com's stock so that Oracle can purchase Salesforce.com on the cheap. Or perhaps he hasn't spent much time in the real world of cloud computing

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The larger issue exposed by this vendor sniping is the burgeoning cloud-to-cloud battles that will produce the opposite of the desired results. Rather than entice enterprises to a particular vendor's cloud approach, comments such as Ellison's will instead push enterprises away from cloud computing in general, and IT decision makers will use it as a convenient excuse to do nothing. With about $250 billion in software expenditures up for grabs in 2011, the vendor sniping will accelerate -- and so will enterprise confusion.

As cloud computing consumers, you need to understand that such vendor silliness in any overheated emerging technology space is part of the game. The difficulty is to determine what's real and what's not among the heavily spun whitepapers, standards, and keynote addresses. The validation and verification of the technology falls on you, like always. The best strategy is to keep away from the vendor battles and misinformation. Ignore their rants and positioning.

This article, "Let the cloud-to-cloud sniping begin," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.