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First Impressions from Oracle’s Cloud Summit

By Charles Eschinger | May 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

This is a long overdue blog posting on Oracle but given that I recently attended Oracle’s second annual analyst cloud summit I thought it to be prudent to provide a synopsis of that event and the continued progress that Oracle has made since last year’s event and from the time of our Vendor Rating. This posting’s contributors are: Ed Anderson, Yvette Cameron, Mindy Cancila, David Cearley, Mike Guay, Keith Gutridge, Ron Hanscome, Lakshmi Randall, Adam Ronthal, Jose Ruggero, Svetlana Sicular, David Mitchell Smith

On April 29th a baker’s dozen of Gartner analysts attended Oracle’s 2nd annual deep dive into Oracle’s cloud strategy. With Oracle’s intense focus on the cloud, both CEO Mark Hurd and President of Oracle Product Development Thomas Kurian provided an overview of the industry and how Oracle’s technology offerings could enable businesses to take advantage of the disruptions that they encounter on a day in and day out basis.  The remainder of the day was filled with other executives providing deeper dives into Oracle’s Cloud offerings, product roadmaps and discussions with 16 clients from a variety of industries, sizes and maturity with cloud solutions.  Despite the intense volume of content, the event proved valuable and provided greater clarity of Oracle’s current and future breadth and depth within its cloud offerings.

Oracle like all enterprise application vendors is fighting both new and old competitors in the cloud markets. The industry perception with companies like Oracle is it is a legacy company, which creates a major problem for them.  While Oracle is working hard at closing this perception gap much of the current “cloud story” remains vision and has yet to be delivered. Some of the strongest capabilities are slated to come later this year or beyond. Gartner will continue to assess Oracle by what they can today versus what it has planned. If they execute on their roadmap they will have some pretty compelling offerings.

In viewing some of the demos I found that the user interface to be simple for users to understand and to configure which is an immense leap forward compared to Oracle’s historical UI. There of course was quite a bit of fanfare for the mobility capabilities of these cloud offerings that showcased its platform as a service and software as a service offerings which are in high demand for areas such as human resources. Oracle is also doing some creative development in making some of it solutions look and feel more like Facebook or other social environments. According to Gartner surveys and interaction with clients, offering “Social” is slightly ahead of its time but there’s no question the trajectory that business users will want to take advantage of in the future. It’s data as a service is always an intriguing opportunity for Oracle and while there is of course need for further integration and development the ability to integrate and take contextualize data so that business users can make better informed decisions is definitely a differentiator for Oracle’s cloud offerings

Oracle’s publicly stated success of more than 75% of its Oracle Cloud ERP sales hadn’t bought any technology from Oracle before (3Q15) indicated that prospects have gained confidence within the market for its capabilities. It is also indicative of the general cloud trends that is seeing more cloud-based deployments of financial management, project portfolio management, cash and treasury management to name a few.  One of the boldest statements was that by Oracle’s Open World held in San Francisco the last week of October, that 95% its applications portfolio would be “SaaS” ready.  This is really a bold statement and one which Gartner will be watching

Oracle’s cloud messaging remains very Oracle-specific. It is a believer in integrated systems (a.k.a. engineered systems) and this truly influences most if not everything it does in terms of development and marketing. If we think about the application suites and now IaaS, PaaS and SaaS as a suite it dovetails nicely into its overall agenda and focus. This can be a problem for Oracle as this “bias” could blur the distinctions between the technologies to build in the services delivered for the cloud.  This perceived bias towards integrated hybrid solutions creates, for Oracle, less reengineering of existing applications towards cloud services because it architects with an eye to running with existing Oracle infrastructure and applications. This is not necessarily a poor choice for either Oracle or its clients and prospects but rather stated direction for Oracle. Yet, it would benefit by showing more openness to interoperating with other technologies and vendors. Most Oracle customers will have a collection of cloud services and their message needs to acknowledge and embrace those other environments too. While being developed, Oracle will also need a strong partner program (both SI and ISV) to make its cloud strategy work.

While Oracle is making bold statements about their investment in cloud, it is important to consider what type of cloud services are needed for your organization.  The IaaS market is defined as elastic, on-demand and pay-as-you-go with self-service provisioning.  Oracle has two cloud offerings; dedicated cloud and cloud-enabled infrastructure.  The first offering, dedicated cloud, enables organizations to easily replicate an on-premises database into Oracle’s dedicated cloud.  While this approach is cloud, it should not be compared to an AWS-like implementation.  AWS and other public cloud providers offer multi-tenant environments for organizations to deploy databases, either atop an EC2 instance, through services like RDS, as well as other unstructured database solutions like NoSQL.  These offerings are available as a service with all of the attributes mentioned in the definition of cloud:  elastic, on-demand, PAYG and with self-service.  Oracle’s solution is more of a “lift and shift” approach which is not bad, it’s just not cloud.  Customers should consider their portfolio and those cases that need a true cloud environment and those that do not.  Comparing these two solutions is really not an apples to apples comparison.  The second offering from Oracle, cloud-enabled infrastructure, is really not a cloud solution but rather a platform optimized for building out a cloud ecosystem.

It is important to define what you really need out of cloud services and select an approach that is aligned to your organizations broader cloud strategy(s).

In short, Oracle’s cloud strategy is growing stronger. They have a lot of work to do to execute on their vision, but the vision is gaining credence.

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