Why Oracle Cloud v AWS is a distraction

Why Oracle Cloud v AWS is a distraction

All Oracle’s keynote bluster and posturing at its OpenWorld conference was focused on Amazon Web Services this year.

There’s a lot of press repeating Oracle’s lines that with its new rebooted IaaS proposition, “Oracle is cheaper than AWS”; “Oracle is faster than AWS”; and so on.

It’s a red herring. Oracle is not expecting large numbers of organisations to compare the new Oracle Cloud IaaS offering head-to-head with AWS. Oracle’s pitch to organisations is that the Oracle Cloud represents one source from which you can get all your cloud resources – whether those relate to raw infrastructure, development and integration platform, or applications. It’s an ‘integrated cloud service provision’ pitch.

Fundamentally Oracle is presenting the Oracle Cloud as an alternative to the established model that most cloud-adopting organisations have to deal with today. That’s a best-of-breed model where you use and integrate services across multiple cloud providers. The Oracle pitch is of an all-in-one, integrated, one-throat-to-choke model.

Oracle’s move is in large part defensive. It wants to prevent as many of its 420,000 customers as possible taking the AWS journey (even though quite a few of them already have). It wants to present itself as the future consolidated platform option for the large part of its customer base that will willingly refer to themselves as “Oracle shops”. It has to offer an IaaS proposition that’s attractive enough to ensure its existing customers choose the Oracle Cloud when they make the shift to cloud; but this is quite different from aiming to be the leading IaaS player overall.

If Oracle wants to offer a one-stop-shop for customers shifting to cloud, though, it needs to present choices so the Oracle Cloud is attractive for many different workloads and applications. The old strategy of promoting (almost mandating) certain hosting architectures, programming languages, DBMSs and so on won’t work in the era of the polyglot programmer. Oracle does seem to understand this, and is at least pointing in an open direction.

In the Developer and Java Cloud offerings there’s support for Node.js, PHP and JavaScript as well as Java SE and Java EE. With Ravello as part of the new offering it now enables Oracle customers to choose to host services on bare metal server instances, dedicated servers, VMware and KVM virtual machines, or containers. Its partnership with Bitnami brings Cassandra available alongside the Oracle and MySQL DBMSs. There’s also support for Hadoop, Spark, Yarn, Kafka and Hive for those wanting to use the Oracle Cloud for big data processing – largely due to a distribution arrangement with Cloudera.

At the same time as providing implementation choices, though, Oracle is working to reduce the friction and waste commonly associated with service provision. Simplicity of service provision is an important part of how Oracle plans to appeal to its core customer base, and ties into the philosophy behind the company’s integrated SaaS+PaaS+IaaS proposition.

One small example of this is the ability, within the IaaS offering, for clients to maintain one central corporate purchasing account, but delegate authority around usage of computing resources and allocation of quotas to multiple individual administrators with sub-accounts. This might seem like a little detail, but for organisations wanting to shift to the cloud that are nervous about maintaining some control of spending and change these kinds of things are pretty powerful.

Something else in the ‘reducing waste’ area that’s not got anything like the same airtime as the Oracle v AWS posturing in the past few days is the new Oracle Accelerated Buying Experience. It sounds dull, and the name could be better – but it this, I think, just as significant a reflection of Oracle’s new ‘integrated cloud service provision’ focus and vigour as the introduction of its new IaaS offering. Why? Because it’s a real example of the company following its own advice about how to improve the customer experience.

The Accelerated Buying Experience (shudder) is the result of a deep redesign of the process that customers go through as they buy Oracle services, and makes use of extensive automation through Oracle’s own sales, service and configure-price-quote SaaS applications. The result is a much simpler, quicker, more streamlined process for both buyers and sellers. Customers will start working through the Accelerated Buying Experience for Oracle Cloud services; however Oracle plans to make it available for customers procuring on-premises technology products too.

When you take a step back, it’s really no surprise: Oracle’s Cloud strategy is to provide an all-in, integrated suite of cloud-hosted services – just as in years gone by, the Oracle Fusion Middleware stack was promoted using the tagline “Complete. Integrated. Open.”

Will all this be enough to stem the flow of Oracle customers to AWS and other competing cloud platforms? Stay tuned. After a few years of cloud-denial, though, there’s no denying Oracle is now giving this initiative everything it’s got.

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