As Oracle CEO Larry Ellison lays out plans for infrastructure-as-a-service, Oracle-run Private Cloud services, 12C database, and Exadata X3, the questions start with scale.
You might associate Amazon with cloud infrastructure-as-a-service, Saleforce.com with multitenancy, SAP with in-memory databases, and EMC with high-performance disk arrays, but Oracle CEO Larry Ellison asserted on Sunday night, in his kickoff keynote at the company's annual Open World event in San Francisco, that Oracle has these and other competitors beat with four new cloud-computing-related offerings.
--An Oracle Private Cloud service that runs in the customer's data center, yet is owned and managed by Oracle.
--Oracle Database 12c, a cloud-oriented upgrade of the company's flagship database.
--Oracle Exadata X3, an update of the Exadata Database Machine that will take advantage of 12c while also packing more DRAM and more advanced use of flash cache memory than available in the previous Exadata machines.
The irony of seeing Larry Ellison extol the virtues of cloud computing, in-memory computing, and multitenancy after so many memorable attacks on earlier versions of these technologies offered by rivals was indeed rich. But as InformationWeek predicted, Ellison's message was that Oracle alone is uniquely positioned and has designed innovative technology to deliver cloud computing (and in-memory database, fast storage, and various other technologies) in a superior way.
Oracle announced software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) plans at last year's Open World event. However, in working with Oracle customers on cloud delivery, Ellison said it became clear that they wanted and needed infrastructure-as-a-service.
"Our customers have said they need to run certain custom applications and existing apps into the cloud as well SaaS applications," Ellison said. He noted that the infrastructure services--such as database, operating system, compute capacity, and storage services--will run on Oracle engineered systems including Exadata, Exalogic, and the Oracle Sparc SuperCluster server, which he dubbed "the fastest, most reliable, most secure machines in the world."
A first key question is whether Oracle can competitively deliver cloud infrastructure at the industrial scale that Amazon and fast-growing cloud-capacity rivals IBM (Smart Cloud) and Microsoft (Azure) operate at, using the same products (meaning Exadata, Exalogic, and Supercluster) developed and designed for corporate data centers. At the massive scale of Amazon's operation, the equivalent of an "appliance" is a container-sized data center module.
More details on Oracle's IaaS plans will emerge this week, but Ellison didn't get into basics such as availability dates, pricing, and service details during Sunday's keynote. Will Oracle deliver equivalents to the many individual infrastructure services, availability zones, and service-level-agreements (SLAs) served up by Amazon? And can it compete against Amazon's economy of scale?
The Oracle Private Cloud service that Ellison announced is aimed at companies that want the advantages of cloud computing but that are more comfortable housing compute capacity on premises, for security or compliance reasons. These customers will be able to get the flexibility of turn-it-off, turn-it-on elastic cloud-compute capacity and have hardware on premises, but with the new private cloud service, Oracle will own and manage the hardware and will keep it up to date, Ellison said.
The first question is just how elastic can the service be, given that a certain amount of hardware capacity will have to be installed on premises? And just how prepared is Oracle to manage hardware deployments at hundreds, and one would expect growing to thousands, of remote customer locations? Critically, what are the costs and the SLAs?
The "c" in Oracle Database 12c is for cloud, and Ellison declared it to be the first multitenant database before. In a long explanation of the benefits of multitenancy, Ellison said that Saleforce.com and other cloud competitors to Oracle were forced to implement multitenancy at the application level. But this approach, he said, is insecure and prevents the use of standard database tools for things like auditing, query, and reporting, forcing those vendors to use custom-built (and the suggestion was inferior) tools.
By offering multitenancy at the database level, Ellison said Oracle will be able to offer truly secure cloud computing, with each customer's data "safe in its own private database." Ellison described the 12c architecture as a container capable of plugging multiple databases into a single isolated container.
The architecture also improves performance and minimizes operational cost by reducing hardware requirements, Ellison said.
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