I came down hard on Oracle for open washing Java and Berkley DB. But is the company cloud washing as well? No. Despite what Marc Benioff would have you think, Oracle is very much a cloud company.
Benioff has labeled Oracle and other private cloud vendors as peddlers of the “false cloud” at Dreamforce 2011 and at other speaking engagements – most notably the speech he gave at St. Regis Restaruant in lieu of OpenWorld keynote. And Oracle has been taking heat for not having a compelling story in big data, mobile and cloud. As of this week, it now has a story for each. Oracle can no longer be dismissed in these areas.
To Benioff, only the multitenant public cloud counts as cloud. And Oracle President Mark Hurd confirmed to Sovos Groups‘s Sameer Patel in an interview at OpenWorld that Oracle’s strategy is all about the private cloud:
Mark’s assessment is that Oracles’ primary customer base will look for a staged move to the cloud, if at all. In the way that it was described by Mark, the logic was this: large companies expanding to new regional markets may choose to go cloud and leave the mother ship on-premise. They may change that configuration at a later time and go all cloud, or extend cloud solutions to front end back end installations. Oracle proposes to offer the needed flexibility using one code base as customers move to all cloud or partial cloud…or never cloud.
I disagree that private clouds aren’t truly cloud. A true private cloud offers elasticity of resources – a means for providing a pool resources to users depending on need. There’s no reason that can’t be done privately. Make no mistake – the Exa appliances are not cloud (but they are a compelling big data solution). But Oracle does offer a full stack of cloud infrastructure, similar to the converged infrastructure offerings from companies like Cisco and HP, that can be used to build private clouds.
But that’s not why I believe Oracle is a cloud company.
First, there are the Oracle Fusion Applications that hit general availability this morning. These give Oracle a compelling software-as-a-service play that competes head-on with Saleforce.com, SAP, SugarCRM and Workday. These also give Oracle a real mobile and social offering, completely defusing Benioff’s claim that Oracle isn’t mobile and social. In fact, I suspect the real reason Oracle pulled Benioff’s talk might be that it just doesn’t fit with the announcements actually coming out of OpenWorld this week. This afternoon Ellison will give a talk called “The Oracle Cloud,” which could well include a big cloud related announcement.
But here’s the most important thing. At BoxWorks last week it was said that startups today aren’t built on Oracle because the licensing fees would kill the companies. They’re using services like Salesforce.com instead. What was’t said is that all those startups using Salesforce.com are also using Oracle because Salesforce.com uses Oracle Database extensively. Anyone using Salesforce.com’s Database.com service is using Oracle even more directly. Benioff said in an interview on our online TV show The Cube, Facebook doesn’t use Exadata. But Netsuite, which Ellison invested in heavily, uses ExaData behind the scenes.
In short, Oracle hasn’t needed its own cloud strategy to become a cloud company. Everyone else is doing it for them. At BoxWorks last week Marc Andreessen said that the clock is ticking for Oracle – something that as Dennis Howlett points out enterprise pundits have been pointing otu for years. But Oracle is already making money hand over fist from the cloud. For example, Ellison claims that cloud providers are driving adoption of Oracle Database.
It’s not all rosy for Oracle. Many customers are unhappy with the pricing. Many are looking to avoid lock-in. Newer companies are trying to avoid the steep costs of Oracle’s products. But Oracle is behind the scenes, running many cloud services. Oracle can’t be discounted for not having strategies in big data, mobile and cloud any longer.
Services Angle: Where Oracle Should Go Next
I’ve been saying for some time now that data-as-a-service is a tremendous future opportunity. Microsoft is doing very interesting things in this area, as have LexisNexis Risk Services (which has open sourced its software infrastructure for providing this sort of service) and many others. Oracle has an opportunity to combine a hosted version of its Exa line of data handling architecture with proprietary algorithms to process data and solve business problems. That’s where big data, cloud and services can intersect in the future.