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Oracle users balk at cloud computing

Oracle shops fear running databases in the cloud cannot match the performance or costs they can get in-house.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle users battled through torrential rain this week to attend sessions on the future of database technology. One far-out notion that presenters touted: running Oracle in the cloud.

Jamie Kinney, a business development manager for Amazon Web Services (AWS), led a session on deploying Oracle TimesTen in-memory database technology on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

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"We can offer you 10 million transactions per day for just under $20," he told a room of about a hundred attendees. The equivalent hardware to drive this kind of perfomance would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Costs, performance keep data close to home
It might sound cool, but few users seemed ready for cloud-based databases.

Steven Winter, a senior database engineer at Gracenote, a subsidiary of Sony Corp., said the company's database is the core of Gracenote's business, and for that reason, it will never run on anyone else's infrastructure.

Gracenote runs a massive database that includes all the metadata for the music stored on iTunes. Every time someone downloads a song, iTunes makes a call to Gracenote's database for the details on that piece of music.

Other than wanting to keep Gracenote's crown jewels in-house, Winter believes the costs for cloud services don't make sense. "Hardware, memory and servers are getting cheaper; the expensive part of our business in terms of IT is developing the software," he said.

Representatives from federal agencies also attended the session, but more for educational purposes than anything else.

Data partitioning is not easy to do in the cloud.
John Harris,
senior database
"There's no way we'll ever use a public cloud, but maybe we can adopt some of these concepts for a private cloud," said a database engineer at the Federal Reserve Bank.

Wassim Kheirallah, a database administrator at QinetiQ, an IT contractor to the government, echoed this sentiment and added that many agencies still run Oracle 9i and are a long way off from using cloud services. "If Amazon developed a version of AWS for the government, then it might be possible. But it would have to be locked down for their use only," he said.

Even in the social media space, a sector more amenable to Internet-based computing, the idea of Oracle in the cloud didn't resonate.

"Data partitioning is not easy to do in the cloud," said John Harris, a senior database engineer at the online site He added that his company runs thousands of nodes and can buy hardware cheaply itself and be up and running in production in a day. "The use case we see is really for startups that can't afford the capital equipment costs," he said.

One such company is Inyxa, a startup in the supply chain software market. "We're hosted with a small provider, and we're concerned that as we grow it won't be reliable enough. … The biggest advantage of moving to something like Amazon, for us, would be scale," said a business development manager at Inyxa.

The potential cost savings of using the cloud did jell with some users. Akovi Wilson, a senior database administrator at SunGard, said his primary job is supporting three universities as a remote DBA. He's interested in setting up Oracle training environments on AWS to train college adminstrators. "Cloud would definitely be a cheaper option for this," he said. "They need to keep their IT staff up to date but have no money for training."

Jo Maitland is the executive editor of Write to her at .

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