Larry Ellison may be remembered as the one who steered clear of the "folly" that is cloud computing. Or he may be remembered for ignoring the real and considerable impacts that the cloud brings.
Or he may also be remembered for staying true to what Oracle does best. And that's providing the underlying infrastructure for any platform, be it in the cloud or on-premise.
Or it may be that Ellison is simply bluffing. Oracle is really not killing the Sun Open Cloud. In its marathon event last week to discuss its plans for Sun, Ellison apparently hooted and howled about the cloud. He asked if anyone could explain it to him at all. He heard little if no response. He said Oracle is discontinuing the Sun Open Cloud, that they don't want to be like Amazon Web Services, that they are not a public cloud service, and that Oracle is not in the business of renting by the minute.
We're not so sure.
Look closer and it's clear Oracle has many of the pieces for a cloud strategy. The SmoothSpan blog has a good vision for how an Oracle cloud strategy might unfold.
For example, the post points out how systems integrators are clamoring for a SasS environment from Oracle.
"....In that world, the System Integrators are the gatekeepers for the market. They're very powerful, and the interesting discovery Tony [Hemelka, Helpstream's CEO] made is that they absolutely love Force.com. It's not hard to see why. The SaaS model squeezes the SI ecosystem. The normal meat and potatoes business around just getting on-premises software installed is greatly reduced. The business of just keeping the lights on is almost non-existant for SaaS. Yet SI's have a lot to bring to the table. A good SI often understands the Domain, its Best Practices, and the key Business Processes better even than the software vendor. Having access to a SaaS platform makes it possible for the SI to turn that valuable knowledge into product which can then be sold. That's why having a platform on which to do that is so important to them."
A Theory About the Open Web
But even if Oracle does have all the pieces, is its culture right for developing a cloud-based approach to the enterprise?
Earlier this week, we touched on the relationship between the social Web and cloud computing. Oracle is not considered a superstar of the social Web. Sure, the company uses the social Web, but it is not experimenting to the degree that you see with a company like IBM, perhaps Oracle's biggest competitor.
IBM is developing a cloud-based collaboration platform. It is developing its own cloud computing service. It is diving deep into the world of the cloud and how the open Web fits with enterprise collaboration environments. In our view, these go hand in hand. It makes a lot of sense that if you want to be a cloud services provider, you need to understand the different ways Web oriented architectures function within the enterprise. A Web oriented architecture requires an online network. With that understanding comes the knowledge how to serve clients that depend on cloud-based infrastructures for their IT services.
Oracle does not want to be like Amazon, providing a public cloud infrastructure.
Instead, the Sun Open Cloud infrastructure will be configured for providers that want to provide their own public clouds and enterprises that seek to create private clouds.
You see? Oracle provides infrastructure - a complete IT services platform. Right now, all Oracle cares about is being the underpinning for all the systems in the enterprise IT environment.
As Dana Gardner points out:
"In doing complete IT package gig, Oracle has signaled the end of the best-of-breed, heterogeneous, and perhaps open source components era of IT. In the new IT era, services are king. The way you actually serve or acquire them is far less of a concern. Enterprises focus on the business and the IT comes, well, like electricity.
This is why "cloud" makes no sense to Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison. He'd rather we take out the word "cloud" from cloud computing and replace it with "Oracle." Now that makes sense!"
It sure does. Oracle sees the cloud through the vision of its own technology infrastructure. The Sun cloud fits into that vision even if for now it is getting mothballed.