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Can Oracle catch up in the cloud?

Katherine Noyes | June 24, 2015
Oracle finally arrived in full form at the cloud party on Monday afternoon, and it's clearly hoping to make up for lost time.

Oracle finally arrived in full form at the cloud party on Monday afternoon, and it's clearly hoping to make up for lost time.

Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison showed up bearing gifts in the form of no fewer than 24 new platform and infrastructure services, and he sang a tune vastly different from the one he belted out so dismissively just a few years ago.

"This was what we might call Oracle's 'all in on the cloud' moment -- it was a shot across the bow," said John Rymer, a vice president with Forrester Research. "Because Ellison spent so much time denigrating the cloud, people don't believe him. That's why Oracle did this dramatic thing."

There's no denying it was a turnaround for the company. As traditional revenues wane, however, the question is whether it's enough.

"It's not too late," Rymer said.

Part of the reason for the delayed timing is that for a long time, relatively few Oracle customers were moving to the cloud -- particularly those on the applications side, Rymer said.

SAP faces a similar situation, he added. "Apps customers don't tend to adopt new things as fast as others do."

Nevertheless, "I think they've got a great opportunity to help customers get the flexibility and speed benefits that are available from the cloud," Rymer said. "Hopefully, they'll do that."

Oracle has a lot of catching up to do, but it would be foolish to count it out, agreed Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics. "Oracle has tremendous resources and a large installed base into which it can sell its cloud services," he said.

The fact that Oracle's Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings allow developers to use the same tools that they use for on-premises development is a competitive differentiator and will be attractive to IT shops that have already standardized on Oracle technologies, Scavo added.

Oracle's aggressive pricing is also attractive, noted Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT. "Oracle certainly has the enterprise technology assets and experience to make these services work," King said.

Oracle's positioning, however, isn't entirely clear.

Ellison made a big point of zeroing in on Amazon as its key competitor in the cloud space, but potential Oracle cloud customers are very different from Amazon's, and they face very different problems, Rymer pointed out.

"Amazon's services are not well-suited to Oracle's base," which tends to be less generic and more technical, he explained. For example, "Amazon is not going to provide SaaS [Software as a Service] to match up with the apps customers are using from Oracle."

Companies like Oracle and SAP have a real chance to serve more technical workloads, focusing on core business processes, he said.

 

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