Oracle finally goes all in on cloud services
Oracle's transition from cloud critic to cloud convert is complete. The company launched a raft of new services that it claims will provide enterprises with all the tools they need to run their operations in the cloud.
"We're now able to call our cloud services complete. With today's announcement, you can now move all your applications out of the data center and into the Oracle cloud," Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said during an event at Oracle's headquarters.
With 24 new platform and infrastructure services introduced, Oracle now claims to be the only cloud provider offering a complete line of enterprise software services, platform services and infrastructure services, all under the Oracle Cloud Platform nameplate. It's a big turnaround from several years ago, when Ellison dismissed the term "cloud" as a buzzword and a fad.
Other cloud providers focus primarily on one set of services: Salesforce.com concentrates on software services, and Amazon concentrates largely on infrastructure services, Ellison said, whereas Oracle now offers the full stack. It will continue to develop new cloud services, Ellison said, but all the basic services needed to run cloud operations are now in place.
Among the new offerings is a set of compute services, which was the last major gap in the company's offering, Ellison said. These services provide customers with a way to run any application on Oracle's cloud.
Oracle also introduced a number of integrated cloud services to help enterprises shift their operations to the cloud, including a service to develop and run mobile applications purely from the Oracle cloud, as well as an integration service that allows organizations to combine multiple enterprise applications into complete systems. It unveiled new storage and big data processing services as well.
Oracle now offers the broadest array of software services of any software company or any cloud company, Ellison boasted. It offers online services for enterprise resource planning, customer experience management, human resource management, enterprise performance management, and supply chain management.
The idea behind the new offerings is to make Oracle a "one stop shop," said Inderjeet Singh, Oracle executive vice president, in an interview. "We have a large customer base who wants to use our software, but not necessarily run our software," Singh said.
Oracle is clearly looking to the cloud for growth. Last week, the company reported that revenue from new software licenses had slumped 17 percent from the same quarter a year prior. But revenue from cloud services increased by 29 percent in the same period.
Oracle claims it supports more than 70 million users, who conduct more than 33 billion transactions each day with its cloud services. The cloud service is run across 19 data centers around the world, collectively holding more than 700 petabytes of storage.
Among the 24 new cloud offerings launched Monday are compute, storage and data management services.
The Mobile Cloud Service, is a set of tools for developing an Android or iOS app that runs entirely in the cloud. The developer can use the service to build a user interface, as well as for setting up an API for data exchange. All development is done entirely within a browser, eliminating the need for installing software on each developer's desktop computer. Developers can use their own preferred languages or use Oracle's Mobile Application Framework. The service also includes a software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to instrument their app, so they can tell who is using it, and how it is being used.
The company has also launched Integration Cloud Service, which provides a way for organizations to combine their different enterprise applications and cloud services so they can work together.
"There is nothing to install. You map the services together, and click deploy, and you are literally done," Singh said.
The company has also updated its Business Intelligence Cloud Service with new tools to visualize data. This feature "is designed for the line of business user, rather than for the IT guy," Singh said.
Although previously quiet on the cloud front, Oracle has slowly becoming acclimatized to being a cloud service provider, said Charles Eschinger, Gartner vice president of research. The company got an early start, given that its Java-based Fusion provides an easy way to move applications into cloud environments.
Over the last 18 months, the company has hired a number of "cloud-native" executives, Eschinger said, including Shawn Price, who formerly worked at SAP, and Peter Magnusson, who worked at Google and SnapChat.
In 2012, Oracle was "barely in" the software services, Ellison admitted in the webcast. Today, Oracle has over 1,000 organizations using the Oracle's enterprise resource planning services. "We are winning big time in ERP in the cloud," Ellison said. "We are growing a lot faster" than rival Salesforce.com, he asserted.
The cloud has brought fundamental changes to the market for enterprise IT services, according to Ellison. The company's two biggest competitors used to be SAP and IBM. "We basically never see either company in the cloud. It is quite extraordinary," Ellison said, noting that the Oracle's biggest competitors today are Salesforce and Workday. "This is a very different world in which we live," he said.
Despite the company's late entry into the cloud market, Oracle has some differentiators, Ellison argued. One is compatibility with existing on-premise Oracle software.
"When we write an ERP application, that application is based on the services that are available in the Oracle Cloud, Oracle platform services and Oracle infrastructure services. When you extend that application you use the exact same platform. Not everyone does that," he said, referring to other cloud providers.
"One of our strategies is to offer the same technologies on premise and in the cloud so you can easily move your applications back and forth with the push of a button," Ellison said.
Another differentiator will be adherence to industry standards, such as using Java or the Linux operating system, which is developed by independent parties and the specifications for which remain open to public scrutiny. Industry standards helps ensure interoperability across different applications.
Industry standards "are not so standard in the cloud," Ellison said.
"We've learned over decades with on-premise technologies that standards were very important," Ellison said. "As suppliers rushed to the cloud, sometimes they forgot about those things."
Oracle's file storage services, for instance, is based on the Network File System (NFS), which is the standard protocol used for network attached storage devices today. This allows an organization to move an in-house application that relies on NFS to work seamlessly in the cloud as well, Ellison pointed out.
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