Gut check on Oracle's journey to the cloud

Oracle's Chuck Hollis recently wrote a blog post explaining the company's cloud strategy. Here is a summary of the main points and what you can learn from the roadmap.

Image: iStockphoto/Songsak Paname

Larry Ellison is known for making bold claims surrounding Oracle's Cloud strategy. When VMware and AWS announced their partnership, Oracle's senior vice president Chuck Hollis was quick to dismiss the partnership and lament that neither VMware nor Dell EMC has a viable cloud strategy in his opinion. Hollis is an alumni of both EMC and VMware, and some users on Twitter had partially chalked up the retort to his competitive spirit, as during his time at VMware Hollis was known to pick fights with competitors such as Nutanix.

SEE: Oracle in the cloud: The analyst conversation (ZDNet)

I challenged Hollis to go further than criticism of VMware and Dell EMC. I, among other observers, wanted to understand the Oracle Cloud strategy. I've heard the bold claims from Ellison and wanted to understand the appeal of an Oracle Cloud to allure an executive of Hollis' stature. In response, Hollis penned a detailed post on his personal blog describing the Oracle Cloud story. Here are some key takeaways.

Enterprise focus

I, along with peers, have highlighted that AWS' focus isn't on the enterprise use case. The platform doesn't natively lend itself to traditional enterprise controls. With a heritage that includes SUN hardware and Oracle databases, Hollis highlighted Oracle's tradition of supporting the enterprise. While AWS has started to grow its bare metal compute capability for applications such as SAP HANA and VMware vSphere, Oracle reminds customers that Oracle Cloud supports non-x86 workloads.

Competitors such as VMware look toward their partner network to fill in the gaps for non-x86 workloads. Rackspace may represent the competitor with the closest capability for non-x86 infrastructure, as Rackspace supports vCloud Air workloads, in addition to OpenStack-based cloud and hosted bare metal for both x86 and non-x86.

On-premises public cloud

What I perceived as a jab at Microsoft's AzureStack, Hollis highlighted Oracle's on-premises solutions. Microsoft's AzureStack promises the ability to extend Azure into the private data center. In his post, Hollis claimed that Oracle is the only cloud provider that offers an on-premises solution managed by the same staff and tools as the public cloud offering, today. Microsoft's solution is, indeed, still in beta.

The enablement of a large hybrid cloud infrastructure was the promise of projects such as OpenStack and others. The first provider to come to mind was Rackspace. I reached out to Rackspace and asked about on-premises options. Rackspace has a solution to deliver and manage OpenStack clouds wherever a customer chooses to locate the service. Dell EMC-owned Virtustream also offers a managed, on-premises solution for SAP. In discussions with Virtustream sales engineers, it seems that the solution is managed by the same team who manages the public solution.

Final take

Oracle is a highly respected enterprise IT vendor and aggressive marketer. There's no question that Oracle has a thorough understanding of the needs of the enterprise, and there's also no questioning Oracle's engineering capability. Some of the biggest platforms in traditional enterprises run on Oracle hardware using Oracle software, but cloud is a relatively new discipline for the company.

Beyond the marketing, Oracle has some climbing to do before challenging AWS in cloud dominance. Oracle is beyond talented. However, their cloud strategy is still rapidly maturing.

Oracle is utilized by its enterprise customers for a good reason. I don't underestimate the value of having a cloud vendor that fully understands the challenges of running traditional workloads. Although, I'd caution organizations to broaden their perspective beyond the marketing of any single large enterprise provider. IBM Cloud, Rackspace, Cisco, VMware vCAN, and Virtustream make up the short list of providers to engage with, in addition to Oracle, if you need more of an enterprise approach to cloud.

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By Keith Townsend

Keith Townsend is a technology management consultant with more than 15 years of related experience designing, implementing, and managing data center technologies. His areas of expertise include virtualization, networking, and storage solutions for Fo...