Why Oracle's cloud service will fail (and why it doesn't have to)

Another big company trumpets a me-too 'AWS killer,' when the only way to beat Amazon is through innovation

Oracle is jumping in as a public IaaS provider, which means another large company is taking a swing at Amazon Web Services. Like their counterparts at Hewlett-Packard, Oracle execs believe that just saying they'll be able to take over a market will make it so. It won't, and I suspect that even tried-and-true Oracle shops will push back on this offering.

The Oracle cloud will use the Oracle OS, VM, compute services, and storage services running on Exadata, Exalogic, and Exalytics, all linked with InfiniBand, said Chairman Larry Ellison. Oracle will offer a private cloud based on the exact same technology to run and manage its customer data centers, Ellison added.

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The theme of my last few blogs has been the lack of innovation from providers entering the cloud computing market. Oracle falls into this unfortunate trend: Everyone is entering the public cloud computing market as an "AWS killer." But their actions show they won't succeed.

In my days as a CTO at big technology companies, I entered markets defined and dominated by other tech providers. I quickly discovered that I needed to find another way in; simply replicating their technology didn't work as a strategy. Oracle has not learned that lesson. Perhaps it believes its large user base will accept Oracle's pronouncements without thought. If so, the tech industry is littered with failures based on that assumption.

So what must Oracle and other technology companies do to innovate their way into the cloud computing market?

First, focus on the missing pieces in the emerging cloud computing market. After all, it is emerging, so there are plenty of gaps to fill in. The obvious holes such as service governance, service provisioning, and cloud security need to be better addressed. This means providing subsystems and features that are vastly different from those of the current dominant products. It's not too late to pull a creative technology rabbit out of the cloud computing hat.

Second, rethink the underlying technology. Much of what is marketed as cloud computing is a recast of existing technology patterns, including storage and compute, as sharable and trackable Internet-delivered resources. (Yawn.) Perhaps cloud computing should also be about new technology patterns, as well as new models for consumption.

For example, the ability to marry intelligent computing models with the management of infrastructure comes to mind. Remove people from making many of the operational decisions, and let the resources manage themselves based on the needs of the applications' instances, understanding current and future resource requirements through highly sophisticated predictive and organic models.

I'm just spitballing, but that's how any "AWS killer" needs to start.

Get creative. It's easier than you think.

This article, "Why Oracle's cloud service will fail (and why it doesn't have to)," 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.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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