Oracle: Our cloud to be cheap as open source

Summary:Oracle has major plans for its cloud service and hopes to beat open-source alternatives on price while becoming large enough to count itself among the three largest clouds in the world

Oracle is making a push as a cloud provider, two years after its chief executive, Larry Ellison, dismissed the concept as mere marketing hype.

"Cloud computing is not only the future of computing, it is the present and the entire past of computing... All it is is a computer attached to a network," Ellison said in a speech in 2009. "Our industry is so bizarre. They change a term and think they've invented a technology."

But as more businesses have adopted the cloud, Oracle has warmed to the approach. It has developed private cloud hardware systems — Exalogic and Exadata — based on Sun technology, and Ellison launched Oracle Cloud Services at Oracle OpenWorld in October, saying, "We need a cloud."

Tyler Jewell, head of strategy for Oracle Cloud Services, talked to ZDNet UK about the company's nascent cloud and how it hopes to attract small businesses that, in the past, have been too "intimidated" by Oracle to use its products. In particular, he described how Oracle expects its services to end up as cheap to run as those based on open-source technology, such as OpenStack.

Q: What are Oracle's ambitions for its cloud service? Who do you want to see using it?
A: There's a couple of different categories of customers that are well suited to this. Pretty much the entire Oracle customer base, [especially] customers that have needs that require instant provisioning.

There have been a lot of projects where customers would like to use Oracle technology, but haven't been able to because they've had to go through IT and it would have been a very complicated process, and so they end up going with open source or OpenStack and the integration becomes much more of a problem because they have that urgent need. The cloud opens up a whole new class of applications.

On the second part, there's a whole group of [small to medium-sized businesses] that wouldn't think about engaging with Oracle because the model for licences, support and the pure breadth of our stack is probably a little bit of overkill or maybe a bit intimidating to them. The consumability approach that we're taking with this [means] we can open up the technology to a broad group of companies that wouldn't even consider it. I see this as a way into the small ones.

We are structuring our pricing in such a way that if you're a company and you're looking at a pure open-source stack because you think it's free and because you think it's cheaper, you have to look at the total cost of owning that, and it's non-zero.

We think we're going to be equal to or cheaper than maybe that [open-source] equivalent, but now you are on a tested and proven WebLogic database. If price is the only concern out there, there's going to be a lot of reasons for them to consider using our cloud instead of an open-source stack.

If price is the only concern out there, there's going to be a lot of reasons for them to consider using our cloud instead of an open-source stack.

There's [also] a whole class of third-party web service providers, like, that provide extensions, and I think there's a whole as-a-service market coming along, like logging-as-a-service or buttons-as-a-service. These groups provide a lot of value to the lifecycle to the whole of the system.

Oracle's never really had a way of partnering with that. You've either had to build your software on the Oracle stack or not. I think [cloud] opens up hundreds of companies that are pure web companies that have a way of doing business with Oracle.

When it comes to infrastructure-as-a-service clouds, do you think Oracle could move to building a product such as that offered by Amazon Web Services?
No. I just don't see us going down that track. The problem with going down the stack is the only thing to compete on there is price, and it's just a race to the bottom. It's unclear where the value is. Oracle is focused on...

Topics: Cloud


Jack Clark has spent the past three years writing about the technical and economic principles that are driving the shift to cloud computing. He's visited data centers on two continents, quizzed senior engineers from Google, Intel and Facebook on the technologies they work on and read more technical papers than you care to name on topics f... Full Bio

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