Playing cloud catch-up, Oracle reaches out to software developers

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Hoping to catch up with cloud computing leaders such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, Oracle Corp. today kicked off the first of a 20-city worldwide series of events in the next few months that are aimed at attracting more cloud software developers.

At the event today in San Francisco, the technology giant made several announcements aimed at helping developers move their applications, and not just Oracle’s, to the cloud. Cloud computing can provide lower costs and more flexible deployment of applications than traditional software and hardware based on a company’s own premises.

For one, Oracle has expanded a recently launched developer portal that offers information, tutorials and sample application code. It also announced a partnership with technology learning firm Pluralsight to provide training materials. And Oracle is offering $300 in credits to try out the Oracle Cloud.

Most of all, though, Oracle is trying to build an ecosystem of developers that look to Oracle rather than AWS, Azure and others for both cloud computing expertise and technology. That’s a nod to the reality that the platform upon which developers create applications often is the one on which they will host their applications for a long time to come.

“It’s trying to create that community feeling,” Amit Zavery, senior vice president for cloud platform and integration products at Oracle, said in an interview with SiliconANGLE. “We want to make sure we’re connected with the latest cloud-based developers.”

The effort won’t be easy. Oracle said the event in San Francisco was “oversubscribed,” though it said it limited attendance to about 300 people to keep it intimate. AWS, Google Inc. and Azure have attracted more of the cloud-native developers Oracle needs to adopt its cloud platform. Still, Oracle was clearly attempting to show it’s there for developers, as Thomas Kurian (pictured), president of Oracle product development, spent the better part of an hour demonstrating precisely how to set up bare-metal servers in the cloud and other technologies.

Oracle is certainly no stranger to developers, since it has engaged them for decades. Also, when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2009, it inherited Sun’s enormously popular Java programming language and annual developer event, as well as the open-source MySQL database. But this event pointedly had very little of Oracle’s signature red color in marketing materials and staff hoodies, sending a message that in the cloud, Oracle recognizes the need to accommodate many non-Oracle and open-source technologies.

Oracle trails far behind not only Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in the base cloud computing services known as infrastructure as a service, but also IBM Corp. and Google Inc. It’s no wonder, then, that Kurian and Zavery sought to emphasize Oracle’s strong position in platform as a service, which is the set of technologies needed to create applications, manage data and the like, and applications as a services, which is software such as databases or human resources applications offered in the cloud.

They also emphasized the reality that many companies aren’t ready for various reasons to move all their applications online. Oracle offers ways to host applications both in the cloud and on customer premises. Indeed, that pitch may hold more appeal in the wake of the nearly five-hour outage of part of AWS’s storage service on Tuesday, which disrupted hundreds of web services and apps.

Zavery acknowledged that Oracle might not be seen as the coolest kid on the block, but the enterprise developers it’s trying to appeal to may not care as much as the newest app startup. “‘Cool’ is a fashion,” Zavery said. “It’s a matter of getting the right stuff rather than the right look.”

The Oracle Code events will run in coming months in cities, including Austin, New York, Toronto, various cities in Europe, Tel Aviv, Moscow and Bangalore.

Photo: Oracle