Is Oracle serious about Cloud and why is Salesforce relying on Amazon Cloud?
It is interesting to follow Oracle’s journey to the Cloud, starting in 2008 with Larry Ellison's rant about “What the hell is Cloud Computing?” to Oracle’s effort to sell servers as “Cloud in a Box” aka Exalogic Elastic Cloud in 2010. Finally with the last week’s Oracle’s Infrastructure as a Service (aka Oracle Public Cloud) announcement it seems like Oracle is finally getting what Cloud Computing is all about and is getting serious about it. Infrastructure as a Service layer is the key innovation on top of the virtualization layer. From the IT service delivery perspective, IaaS is the foundation needed for achieving the promised time to market and cost benefits of the Cloud.
Last week there was also unnecessary controversy around who has the right Cloud between Salesforce and Oracle, specifically between Marc Benioff and Larry Ellison. The fact that the airtime was given to the controversy reflects the confusion and lack of understanding about what Cloud Computing is and how various offerings and players fit in the ecosystem. Salesforce has done a great job in evangelizing SaaS among enterprise customers and making it an acceptable alternative to on-premise software. However, the fact is, Salesforce.com runs on the legacy infrastructure and doesn’t take advantage of the Cloud itself for delivering the SaaS solution. The reason is that Salesforce was launched before the IaaS innovation was available. Almost all new SaaS and PaaS offerings these days are running on top of the IaaS layer and leveraging the benefits of Cloud Computing. E.g. Heroku, a PaaS solution owned by Salesforce, itself runs on Amazon EC2 (IaaS).
Oracle Public Cloud (IaaS) service is not live yet so the jury is still out on how good it will be compared to other Public Cloud offerings by IBM, Amazon, or other players. At the very minimum one must give credit to Oracle for recognizing that IaaS is the key Cloud Computing innovation and it is needed to deliver optimal higher-end SaaS or PaaS offerings. Also IaaS is a must for providing flexibility to enterprise customers for running their proprietary enterprise applications. In comparison Salesforce has yet to deliver any real IaaS innovation, even for running their own PaaS offering (Heroku) , Salesforce team is relying on the IaaS offering delivered by Amazon (AWS EC2).
For more information on Cloud ecosystem and how various players fit in watch this 5 minute video, also checkout my earlier blog on SaaS vs. IaaS: Key trade-off has nothing to do with vendor lock. Newbies to Cloud Computing can checkout this presentation for the quick overview.