Monthly Archives: September 2013

Oracle of the Cloud – Seek and Ye Shall Find

Oracle logoOracle & Cloud. Oil & Water. Never the twain shall mix. Or so it’s been until now.

Excluding SaaS offerings that were mostly acquired, Oracle has been largely absent from the cloud these past 7 years. However, one thing you can always count from Larry & Co is an uncanny ability to adapt, embrace and compete like hell when it matters. Coming from an 8-1 deficit to win 8 straight America’s Cup matches shows you just how much Ellison likes to win.

After years of ignoring or aggressively denying the importance of cloud computing, Oracle has finally demonstrated their credible progress with no less than 10 new offerings announced at Oracle Open World this week. There is still a fair amount of cloudwashing going on, but for the first time it is no longer fair to deride Oracle as cloud hype without substance. It was fun while it lasted though.

Oracle is embracing the public cloud with database, middleware, compute and storage offerings. Their compute solution, powered by the acquisition of Nimbula and Chris Pinkham, looks pretty reasonable at first glance. And storage built on OpenStack Swift is also pretty leading edge. Multiple DBaaS offerings and a cloud-extended database backup appliance will probably be well-received by Oracle’s customer base.

In the private cloud, Oracle is starting to make some progress as well. I wouldn’t use them to build private IaaS clouds at this point, but they are selling an IaaS-in-box “engineered system” that might get some users. What’s more interesting is their database consolidation play which is being offered to major enterprises through an Exadata DBaaS offering that can be run in customer data centers. A very solid customer case from UBS shows that this is real.

Another interesting area is in the middle tier with the availability of Dynamic Clusters in WebLogic 12c. Like a good PaaS environment (which this is not), the ability to seamlessly (and with preset constraints) perform horizontal scaling of workloads is pretty interesting. Application changes might be required, and I don’t believe that multi-geo scaling would work with their model without significant code changes, but it’s a good start at enterprise PaaS functionality.

I came to the Oracle [Open World] seeking truth and wisdom on the cloud but expecting very little. To Oracle’s credit, they have exceeded my expectations. If you are an Oracle client or partner, it’s time to take a look at their cloud story to see how it might fit with your plans. I’d still be wary of some of their claims and don’t believe that they will be able to meet all of your needs, but at least they are in the game and competing. And we all know what happens when Ellison chooses to compete.

Getting Ready for the Cloud

by Ben Grubin

Whether you have a handful of applications of thousands of them, if some are not already running the cloud the idea has likely been discussed. Most people agree there are large numbers of applications that should be relatively easy to migrate to cloud infrastructure, yet most still haven’t made the jump to cloud. Why?

A few years ago, I remember writing about the immaturity of public cloud services. My thinking then was that building a private cloud and migrating your applications to it internally would build institutional knowledge (capabilities, policies, experience, etc) necessary for migrating and operating applications in the a public cloud while radically simplifying storage and network issues. These days most companies still haven’t made it that far even though the maturity of public cloud has grown by leaps and bounds. In fact, public cloud maturity has come so far that the question has become not whether to migrate applications to the public cloud, but how many and to which cloud?

In hindsight, it’s pretty easy to see that leaping into cloud (private OR public) a few years ago was a pretty risky and expensive proposition. Most enterprises made the right choice when they elected to sit tight, leverage virtualization to reduce wasted hardware and consolidate data centers (or at least reduce the growth of hardware), and keep a weather eye on this “cloudy” stuff. But now, with a maturing IaaS cloud market, is it time to jump in?

Sorta.

While public clouds are maturing, the question of which public cloud can be tricky. Yes, Amazon AWS currently has the lion’s share of the market, but the lower left corner of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for IaaS is very crowded, with new entrants daily. Furthermore, some IT behemoths are just piling into this market: see Tuesday’s announcement that Oracle is launching the Oracle Compute Cloud, intended as a competitive platform to AWS.

The answer may be to optimize your application for IaaS portability, rather than for a specific cloud environment. For example, decoupling services from the core application both helps an application become easier to scale horizontally, and frees you to change out underlying technologies in those services (like moving from sending your own email to using Amazon’s Simple Email Service).

Making your applications ready for the cloud now positions you to take greater advantage of the growing diversity of the public cloud ecosystem. Tackling changes today will make it a lot easier to move your apps when the time is right.

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