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Cloud experts puzzled by Oracle’s approach to cloud computing

Oracle introduced the database giant's cloud platform -- again. But will it resonate with potential customers? Some observers don't think so.

Oracle’s latest public cloud vision continues the company’s lock-in approach that leaves experts skeptical, if not outright cynical about the company’s cloud strategy.

Oracle Corp.’s cloud platform was re-introduced by CEO Larry Ellison during an hour-and-a-half presentation last week where he appeared to laboriously read off of slides and largely rehashed last fall's launch of the company’s cloud initiative.

Given that the Oracle Cloud remains highly proprietary, it’s no surprise that it primarily appeals to existing Oracle customers. Non-Oracle shops don't see value in the cloud offering and wonder why the company would take such an approach.

The reality is that the era of vendors that want to control the market is long gone.

Nigel Fortlage, vice president of IT, GHY International

"The reality is that the era of vendors that want to control the market is long gone," said Nigel Fortlage, vice president of IT for customs broker and trade consultancy GHY International, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "We partner with IBM because they let us pick and choose."

"I don't see Oracle as a valid solution," he added.

Though pricing has not yet been revealed, it will be based on a subscription model instead of the typical pay-as-you-go model of other cloud services. That sets off alarms for some observers who see its higher-end pricing as undercutting one of cloud computing's chief tenets -- lower IT costs.

"From a business standpoint, I can't imagine why I'd want to [use Oracle Cloud]. ... Everything is overpriced in order to pay the company's sales people," said Roger Jennings, a Windows Azure MVP and developer in Oakland, Calif.

Ellison and Oracle co-president Mark Hurd were also unclear about when various components of the company's cloud services will be actually available, with press materials saying one thing and other company statements online saying another.

For instance, a company FAQ states that two offerings -- Oracle Fusion CRM Cloud Service and Oracle Fusion HCM Cloud Service -- are "currently available," while Oracle Database, Oracle Java Cloud Service and Oracle Social Network are available under "preview availability."

Further, a blog post by Oracle's senior vice president of communications touted the "general availability of Oracle Cloud."  

However, an online registration page says that Oracle "will be provisioning Java and Database services in batches over the next several months [and that] Fusion Application services will be made available shortly after that."

Once a solution grows roots in a data center, it's harder than heck to get it pulled out. I'm sure there will be Oracle customers that will be cheering hosannas of praise.

Charles King, principal analyst, Pund-IT, Inc.

An Oracle spokesperson could not explain the discrepancies by publication time.

Such confusion doesn't help boost confidence in the company's entry into the cloud computing arena.

Oracle's poor reputation mirrors another IT veteran's history in cloud -- but will its future turn out the same?

"People laughed when Microsoft announced entry into the cloud business, questioning the company's track record at running highly available services," said Shlomo Swidler, CEO of Orchestratus Inc., a cloud computing consultancy in West Hempstead, N.Y.

"Will organizations trust their business processes to Oracle's operations team the way they already trust their data to Oracle's development and support team?" Swidler said.

Some customers, who already have significant investments in Oracle products, likely will go for Oracle Cloud, said Charles King, principal analyst at corporate advisory firm Pund-IT, Inc. in Hayward, Calif.

"Once a solution grows roots in a data center, it's harder than heck to get it pulled out," King added. "I'm sure there will be Oracle customers that will be cheering hosannas of praise."

Stuart J. Johnston is Senior News Writer for Contact him at

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