The Oracle Ecosystem Gets Cloudy

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With the release of Oracle Cloud Platform 2015 and new Oracle Cloud Platform Services, things are clouding up across the Oracle landscape—but in a positive way. Larry Ellison, chairman and chief technology officer for Oracle, has made it clear in pronouncements that Oracle is in the cloud to stay. In a recent event detailing Oracle’s platform as a service array, he announced the Oracle cloud constellation is “complete,” covering all aspects of software development and management, and is well-integrated with Oracle’s data environments. Oracle also intends to compete head-to-head with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in the fast-growing cloud and software as a service space.

Products belonging to the Oracle Cloud Platform now include Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, Oracle Integration Cloud Service, Oracle Process Cloud Service, Oracle Database Cloud-Exadata Service, Oracle Integration Cloud Service, and Oracle Big Data Cloud Service. Underpinning these offerings are in-memory capabilities and features that support unstructured data announced by Oracle within the past year. This is good news for those who have been concerned about Oracle’s ability to compete in the cloud world. At the same time, it opens up new types of customers who may have never directly engaged with Oracle technologies.

For starters, more people outside of the data center may start becoming Oracle customers. “Companies with offerings built on cloud and SaaS frameworks have been selling direct to the business enterprise user, saying they can build solutions that are faster, cheaper, and offer more flexibility, while Oracle has been focused on selling direct to the CIO,” said Michael Reddy, vice president and North America Oracle service line leader for Capgemini. “That is changing. In a year, Oracle has changed course by selling to business customers and offering different pieces of its solutions. It has completely turned its salesforce around very quickly.”

Many mid- to smaller-size companies, for which Oracle technologies have been out of reach, will also now be accessing Oracle environments through cloud and SaaS solutions.

These are organizations that typically haven’t had the staffing or infrastructure to support Oracle technologies. Companies leveraging cloud-based Oracle solutions “don’t have to have a DBA, they don’t need anybody other than someone who can create tables, and manage the way data is crunched in the tables themselves,” said Ian Abramson, principal, senior consultant at SWI, Oracle ACE, and past president of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). “They don’t need someone to worry about backup and recovery.”

Oracle’s emerging cloudscape is also attracting small to medium companies for its application sets. “With regard to new ERP clients, we are seeing an influx of inquiries from smaller customers who normally would not have been in the market for a Tier 1 ERP system but are now considering Oracle Cloud applications,” observed Gregory Belt, senior director of Fujitsu America’s Oracle practice. “Not all of them are ultimately choosing to take the plunge and buy the software, but they are at least considering Oracle as a possibility, which is something they would never have done in the past. Oracle software was perceived as being beyond their means to purchase, implement, and maintain.”

Current Oracle users are also moving to embrace the vendor’s cloud-based solutions. “‘Cloud’ is the big buzzword of today in the Oracle community, and companies are figuring out how to most effectively leverage cloud capabilities with their ERP,” said Melissa English, president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG). “While there has been some confusion around successful cloud ERP implementation, lately that confusion has been clearing as Oracle has been polishing up its messaging surrounding the cloud and providing more and more education to users.”

Companies “are now starting to understand the relevance of cloud adoption as a means to remain competitive in an extremely dynamic and mobile world where consumers change how they consume daily,” English continued. “Enterprises that have migrated to the cloud are already enjoying the benefits, such as lowered cost, increased deployment speed, and ease of use.”

Not everybody sees Oracle’s cloud strategy delivering as promised. “To date, Oracle’s cloud has not strongly impacted its enterprise business,” said Vikram Duvvoori, chief technologist and corporate vice president–enterprise transformation services for HCL Technologies. “Compared to pure play cloud players, the adoption of cloud in the Oracle ecosystem is more measured and ‘fit for purpose.’ Rather than replace an entire application or a function, many customers are moving interfaces, partner integrations and select modules to the cloud, for elasticity and end-to-end manageability. The availability of Oracle 12c is also allowing the embrace of pluggable databases on the cloud, but this is a gradual process that is not yet replacing core databases.”

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