Global CIO: Larry Ellison Swaps Cloud Rants For Cloud Love With Exalogic - InformationWeek

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Commentary
9/22/2010
10:10 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: Larry Ellison Swaps Cloud Rants For Cloud Love With Exalogic

Theatrics aside, Ellison's conversion from cloud-ranter to cloud-computing arms merchant reveals a great deal about today's rapidly shifting IT landscape.

Just a year ago, Larry Ellison was prone to fits of inspired rage when the subject of "the cloud" came up. Any mention of cloud computing or SaaS had the potential to trigger anti-cloud rants, peppered with claims of the ABSURDITY of the idea and its sheer IDIOCY and the NITWIT venture capitalists trying to weave gold out of hair by merely coming up with a new term.

But just a few months ago, we began to see Oracle's CEO take a decidedly calmer position on the whole cloud thing: in earnings calls with analysts, he even began to use terms like "private clouds" and "cloud computing" in perfectly normal tones and describing how those concepts were becoming viable and even valuable parts of Oracle's evolving data-center strategy.

Still, it was a little unnerving to see Ellison earlier this week at Oracle Open World introduce a huge new product called the Exalogic Elastic Cloud and discuss public clouds and private clouds and hybrid clouds—all without a single yell, sputter, insult, or grimace.

It's all just a matter, Ellison said, of definition: what does cloud computing really mean?

For Oracle, he said, it's the Amazon.com EC2 model, as opposed to the Salesforce.com approach, of which Ellison is not a particular fan. Here's how Ellison described his disdain for conflating SaaS with cloud computing:

"Maybe the two most well-known examples of cloud computing represent opposite ends of the spectrum," Ellison said in underscoring his contention that cloud computing means many different things to many different people. "On the one hand you have Salesforce.com, a very successful application on the Internet, and a lot of people call that cloud computing—you access the application on the web, it's 10 years old, and it's SaaS technology, and some people say that's cloud computing."

As a counterpoint, Ellison then described Amazon.com's EC2 as a hardware/software platform for building and running applications and using Linux, Java, Oracle database, MySQL, and other prominent technologies in a highly virtualized environment that can run a wide variety of applications.

"The technology is virtualized so each customer has its own separate, secure, and virtual environment with fault isolation, so most systems failures affect only one customer," Ellison said as even I began to see which way he was tilting. (End of excerpt.)

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So now with his introduction of the Exalogic Elastic Cloud—what Ellison also called Cloud in a Box"—I think it is safe to say that Larry Ellison, provided he gets to define the term his way, has become someone who not only accepts cloud computing and tolerates cloud computing, but is indeed a major fan of and proponent of and arms-merchant for cloud computing.

And here's why that's important:

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