Oracle previews new cloud apps, talks IaaS as cloud pros remain skeptical

Oracle touted its cloud strategy once again at OpenWorld this week, but IT pros remain put off by costs and vendor lock-in.

Despite Oracle's new services for its cloud computing platform, IT pros said it would still take a major shift in pricing and strategy from the company to find the service appealing.

The new services -- available as previews through the Oracle Cloud website -- include planning and budgeting cloud services, based on Hyperion, financial reporting cloud services, data and insight cloud services, social sites cloud services, developer cloud services, storage cloud services and messaging cloud services.

All of these services are based on Oracle applications and are subscription-priced.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) will also follow, although when and for what price is still unknown. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison characterized the target audience for Oracle's IaaS as existing Oracle customers who want to run custom apps in Oracle's cloud, as opposed to those who want to run apps from other vendors.

IT shops are looking for a model that's much more open and consumption-based, said Michael Mullarkey, CEO of Brickfish, a Chicago-based social marketing software developer for retailers that runs its infrastructure on NaviSite's IaaS.

In other words, Oracle's cloud would need to look more like its Software as a Service rival SalesForce.com and SalesForce's Platform as a Service subsidiary Heroku.

"People are probably more apt to lean that way than go towards Oracle," he said. "I'd rather stay with a more independent … vendor, and if I need things from Oracle, I'd buy them separately."

Oracle won't become truly relevant in the cloud conversation unless "they start treating IT professionals as respected members of a powerful community instead of human milk cows," said Carl Brooks, analyst with Tier 1 Research in Boston.

Specifically, that means more genuine communication on products, features [and] roadmap from Oracle, Brooks said, as well as more acknowledgement of the ways the winds are blowing in IT.

"For Oracle Cloud to work, it has to look more like what the rest of the world thinks of as cloud than not," Brooks added.

Oracle: Pricing itself out of the cloud?

In addition to the new preview services and IaaS plans, Oracle disclosed Tuesday that some previously announced cloud offerings, which included Oracle database and Java cloud services, are now generally available. The services start at a $175 per month subscription for database and $249 per month for Java. For those prices, customers get one database schema running on Oracle 11g Release 2 with up to 5 GB of data storage, or 1 Oracle WebLogic Server, 1.5 GB RAM for Java Heap, and 5 GB file storage, respectively.

For 50 GB disk storage on an 11g database in Oracle's cloud, the price rises to $2,000 per month; four Oracle WebLogic servers with 6 GB RAM and 20 GB file storage under the Java service offering goes for $1,499 a month.

"I've found that the pricing tends to be tough," said Richard Calmas, chief executive of Neighborhood Pay Services, a financial services company for renters and property owners based in Newton, Mass.

"We've looked at them for their database products extensively because they are leaders … but at this moment in time, for us, they are prohibitive," Calmas said.

Amazon makes a database IaaS move

Meanwhile, perhaps in anticipation of further eye-popping pricing, Oracle's soon-to-be IaaS rival Amazon added its Relational Database Services, which supports Oracle databases, to its Free Usage Tier.

Users must still pay for and bring their own licenses for the Oracle database itself, but Amazon will provide up to 750 hours of free capacity usage per month, along with 20 GB of database storage, 10 million I/Os and 20 GB of backup storage at no cost, the company said.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com and SearchServerVirtualization.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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