Oracle joins cloud computing fray

September 20th, 2010 | by Aaron Tan

Oracle became the latest major IT vendor to tap into the red-hot enterprise cloud computing market today when it unveiled its Exalogic Elastic Cloud today at its annual Oracle Openworld technology confab.

Targeted at large companies who wish to build their own “private clouds“, Exalogic is touted as a “compute cloud-in-a-box” product that includes a combination of servers, storage and networking components melded into a single machine.

“It includes all the hardware you need to run your applications, including 30 servers, infiniband networking that lets servers talk to one another and a high availability storage device,” Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said at the show’s opening keynote today. “It also has all the middleware you need to develop and run all your applications.”

Essentially, what Oracle has done is to make it easier for enterprises to set up virtualised data centres where IT resources can be dynamically deployed based on business needs with the help of virtualization technology. Oracle is employing Java VM in Exalogic, where applications can run on Linux or Solaris virtual machines.

The usual cloud computing characteristics apply to Exalogic: dynamic load balancing, failover using Oracle Coherence and the ability to add, remove or migrate virtual machines on the fly.

Like most private cloud offerings, Exalogic is built as a modular system which uses the same hardware and software configuration regardless of use cases and operating environments. Ellison says such standardization allows Oracle to discover and roll out patches quickly. In addition, Oracle claims it can deliver all Exalogic patches for various components in a single file.

The Exalogic looks promising, with its high performance (over 1 million HTTP requests per second), scalability and low CPU overhead of between two to four per cent. Besides IBM, Oracle is perhaps the only vendor that owns all the pieces in a private cloud offering.

Others like Cisco, EMC and VMware are relying on alliances such as the Virtual Computing Environment coalition to address this market segment. This approach opens customers to uncertainty over the possibility of future mergers and acquisitions, or the chance of a fallout among partners.

With Exalogic, Ellison is aligning Oracle’s definition of cloud computing with that of Amazon Web Services which offers the EC2 platform for running or developing applications, as opposed to SaaS players such as Salesforce.com, which offers access to applications running off the Internet.

Ellison said in the case of Amazon EC2, technology is virtualised, faults are isolated and protected, and resources are consumed on a pay-per-use basis. “That’s what gave rise to the term cloud computing – it is a platform for building applications, it’s elastic, it’s virtual and you pay for what you use.”

For Salesforce.com, applications are not virtualised or fault tolerant and companies are charged based on the number of users they have, Ellison added.

“It’s really just one or two applications on the Internet. They do have a proprietary platform that lets you do little add-ons and interfaces to Salesforce applications, but it’s not elastic.

“If demand increases in the Amazon compute cloud, you get more VMs and servers. If demand increases on Salesforce.com, you better reduce demand. If someone is generating too many reports and using too much resources, they’ll kill the reports because they don’t want to hurt the performance of other customers,” Ellison said.

“Our idea of cloud computing is identical to (Amazon’s). We believe it’s a platform and on that platform you run a wide variety of software – databases, development tools, guest operating systems, virtual machines. It’s a comprehensive development and execution environment that can virtually run all your applications. It must be virtualized, it must be elastic and it clearly includes hardware and software.

But we have a slightly different take from Amazon – we believe that not only could these clouds be publicly available to customers, individual customers can also build their own private cloud behind their firewalls.”

Interestingly, Ellison hinted at the possibility of Fusion applications being hosted on Oracle’s public cloud that’s run by a new cloud services division headed by former IBM cloud executive Joanne Olsen.

Fusion applications, the next generation business applications coded from the ground-up from Oracle’s various acquisitions in the past, will finally be available to customers by year-end.

Will Oracle then apply the cloud computing moniker to these SaaS-enabled Fusion applications?

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6 Comments

  1. Alf Nayee says:

    Aha….nirvana from Oracle. But are Oracle Products fully Supported under a true vendor free and open VCE – not yet me thinks

  2. Albert says:

    Did Larry Ellison just woke up from his 2009 cloud computing tirade? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UYa6gQC14o

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