Shining a light on Oracle Cloud

An interview with Senior Vice President Abhay Parasnis offers insight on the inner workings, ultimate intent of Oracle Cloud

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Single tenancy has led many people, including me, to wonder whether Oracle Cloud is a cloud at all. On the surface, in an architectural sense, it sounds a lot more like conventional hosting. So is it? Here's Parasnis' reply:

In the cloud, there are a few things in my mind that really distinguish what we are doing from "hosting." First of all, the core underpinning of the entire cloud is in fact this elastic capacity model. We are not literally trucking in servers and starting apps on those servers and offering those copy by copy to customers. There is an elastic substrate, all modeled as a set of virtual machines, running on either Exadata or Exalogic depending on the workload ... and a combination of virtualized network and virtualized compute and virtualized storage. We actually think about it as a logical fabric that is fully orchestrated and managed like any "full first class" cloud.

On top of that, we have taken the exact same philosophy and extended the Fusion apps themselves. The core functionality of the apps is exactly the same, but the app servers that they are running on and the application architecture itself is now deeply wired into this cloud substrate.

Basically, everything underneath Fusion apps is pretty darn cloudy, even if the apps themselves are not multitenanted. It's legitimate to question how Oracle is going to be able to ensure a seamless customer experience for all those single tenants. But if it all works the way Parasnis says it will, the result could be more attractive for some enterprise customers than a "pure" SaaS solution:

Frankly, because the stacks [in the cloud and on premises] are actually the same, we think there are a few things that are very difficult for competitors to match. First of all, there are skills and investment portability. There is a lot of customization and a lot of investment customers have made on top of our applications and on top of our platform on premises. We can give them a natural progression and natural path either to move them -- but in quite a few cases not really move but connect to those on-premises extensions with some new things they are starting to do on the cloud.

That may be the bottom line. Large enterprises invest heavily in their customizations and workflows, and in "moving to the cloud," many may prefer a solution like Oracle's that purports to get them there with as little disruption as possible. By the same token, Oracle has invested billions in developing its applications, so if possible it's going to avoid re-engineering them for multitenancy -- and sell single tenancy as a security benefit.

Besides, who really knows what goes on behind the scenes at "pure" SaaS providers? Do all of them really have one giant application instance for all customers, or do some actually have an architecture similar to Oracle's? If the customer experience meets expectations, nobody cares.

The most significant thing about Oracle Cloud is that Oracle felt compelled to create it -- and that it specifically targets the enterprise. Never underestimate the power of the Oracle marketing machine to reach those customers, although adoption is likely to be slow and cost is a huge question. If nothing else, Oracle Cloud is a sign that the cloud had grown up -- all the way up to the biggest enterprise apps and customers.

This article, "Shining a light on Oracle Cloud," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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