NEW YORK -- Trumpeting two new products and surrounded by floating blue banners proclaiming the rise of cloud computing, Oracle has jumped on the bandwagon with a vengeance, reversing months of public skepticism around cloud computing and its viability. Oracle claims it is ready to provide enterprises with their own internal cloud computing environments from servers all the way up, saying that private clouds rather than public cloud services are what enterprises want.
"We now believe that it's the paradigm and the prevalent mode for enterprise going forward," said Richard Sarwal, senior vice president of product development for Oracle, at the Cloud Computing Expo in New York City.
Sarwal struck familiar notes for Oracle watchers as he outlined the company's strategy for turning enterprise IT environments into clouds, touting Oracle's own use of grid, virtualization and automation as evidence of its newfound expertise in cloud computing.
"We've been using these concepts called server farms for about 10 years; they have been told they have to change their name to 'clouds'," he said, tongue in cheek.
He added that Oracle University provisioned and tore down between two to three thousand instances every week as part of training programs, from which the firm saw significant economic benefits.
However, he said that Oracle was sensitive to the conservative nature of enterprise IT, and he realized some applications and some "IT silos" would never be opened to shared computing resources. He gave another example from Oracle's own IT, saying the company ran a "Global Single Instance" that handled all the financial and business data necessary for the company.
"There's no way on God's earth we'd ever let development and test flex on to this," he said.
Instead, Oracle proposes to help enterprises segregate and parcel off IT using Oracle components. Sarwal said that Oracle's acquisition of Sun gave it the capability to deliver Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) installations that are 100% Oracle, and it will deliver its applications and middleware as either "private Software as a Service" inside the enterprise or as services consumed directly from Oracle.
"Oracle products are all being effectively reworked in many ways," he said.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison famously denigrated cloud computing, declaring it a new name for existing technologies and not a fundamental shift, all the while ignoring the success of Amazon Web Services and companies like Google and Salesforce.com in delivering IT services. Despite that, it appears the $23 billion software company has decided there is value in adopting the lingo and re-inventing itself as a cloud computing player.
Sun to lead Oracle into the cloud
Oracle will lean heavily on its absorption of Sun to fill out its cloud computing portfolio, using Sun servers for hardware and making Java a linchpin of programming between infrastructure, Oracle middleware and applications.
"For multiple reasons, we now feel very strongly about Java," said Hasan Rizvi, senior vice president of Oracle Fusion Middleware.
Rizvi said that, put simply, Java was the most popular and widely used open platform out there, and Oracle has it firmly in hand, along with the rest of the pieces that make up an IT infrastructure.
"We have control of the entire stack," he said.
Oracle adds to its cloud lineup
He made two launch announcements that seem to cement the company's commitment to selling top-to-bottom cloud computing environments into the enterprise. Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder allows users to pick and choose predefined resources like servers, database back ends and appliances and build application stacks with Oracle's virtualized software tools.
And Oracle's WebLogic Server can now be virtualized and run "directly on the hypervisor," without a host OS. Rizvi said the WebLogic Suite Virtualization Option used a JRockit Java Virtual Machine to provide basic functionality like network interfaces and process scheduling while running on the Oracle VM hypervisor. He claimed that gave an increase of up to 33% on throughput over a WebLogic server running on a virtual machine instance.
It remains to be seen how receptive users will be, however, since like many private cloud computing pitches, this involves enterprises having to buy more, not less, if they hope to transform their in-house IT departments. While Oracle might sincerely believe it has the best products to make enterprise IT act like Amazon Web Services, many enterprises see removing infrastructure as the primary benefit to cloud computing, not transforming it.
Larissa Fair, senior online marketing manager at ScienceLogic, a network monitoring company, blogged the event and said she saw Oracle's new emphasis on private cloud as a validation of the concept but thinks it might be a tough sell to ask enterprises to stuff more products in to the data center. She said it was encouraging to see Oracle validate the reality of private clouds, but added that it was still early days, especially at the scale Oracle was talking about.
"There still aren't a lot of concrete examples, right?" she asked.
Fair said she was at the event to gauge interest in cloud computing as a whole, and noted that tt still came down to basics, even in the face of whiz-bang presentations.
"People are using it in ways that make sense for their business," she said, something unlikely to change.
Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.