Oracle's Exalogic box: Cloud washing at its best?

Unless Oracle takes away the Exalogic capacity you spent a few million dollars for and gives you your money back, the true cloud elasticity of the Exalogic box is a bit fuzzy.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison acknowledged that every tech vendor has its own definition of cloud computing so instead of mocking cloudwashing---a term that refers to slapping the word "cloud" in front of everything---he decided to join the party.

At a keynote that was largely panned across Twitter, Ellison took shots at most software as a service vendors, notably Ellison argued that does on-demand software, but not really cloud computing. He neglected to mention the platform. Ellison also gave props to Amazon Web Services as a fine example of cloud computing.

From there, Ellison moved to put Oracle's spin on cloud computing. Oracle's cloud entry is an integrated hardware/software box dubbed Exalogic Elastic Cloud. The idea here is that the Exalogic box provides cloud infrastructure in one stop. Ellison said Exalogic includes "the fastest Java performance, elastic capacity on demand and a completely fault tolerant system."

Kind of like, well, a mainframe? Now you can't blame Oracle for putting its own spin on cloud computing, but it does muddy the waters a bit. Every hardware vendor has some spin on cloud computing, but usually preface the effort as the "private cloud." The private cloud essentially refers to your data center. Under this scenario, you buy servers and deliver services to your company. Its hybrid cloud, but the capital expense is still there.

Sam Diaz sums it up:

His pitch was that Exalogic, like Amazon, is a flexible and elastic platform, a hardware-software device that can meet the needs of any company. He went to great lengths to play up the ability to issue patches for bugs that might be found in a faster and more efficient way. He talked about standardization, easy manageability and cost savings.

What’s funny is that, as Oracle talks up the cloud and the SaaS applications, it almost begs the question: If that’s where things are headed, why would I need all of this hardware?

Indeed, cloud computing is supposed to turn capital expenses into operating expenses. Exalogic looks like more capital spending. With Exalogic, Ellison is pitching a box that accelerates Oracle's software lineup, notably middleware. But is Exalogic really elastic? Is it really cloud?

NIST has put a lot of time in defining cloud computing. One core tenet of cloud computing "rapid elasticity," where capacity can be provisioned and scaled up and down at will. Think Amazon Web Services.

Does the Exalogic box meet that criteria? Will Oracle take a box back if you don't need the computing power?

Probably not. Simply put, Oracle's Exalogic box gives you capacity on demand because you're still buying more capacity than you need. It's a nice box, but to the IT buyer Exalogic may not be all that elastic when it hits your budget.

Unless Oracle takes away the Exalogic capacity you spent a few million dollars for and gives you your money back, the true elasticity of the Exalogic box is a bit fuzzy.