Oracle has officially launched itself as a cloud-service provider, offering platform, application, and social networking services
Oracle’s widely expected expansion from a conventional enterprise software specialist to become both a cloud-systems and cloud-services provider has now been realised.
Larry Ellison’s company launched its Oracle Cloud on 6 June before several hundred invited guests (mostly customers, analysts, journalists) and a Webcast audience in a media event on its San Francisco Bay shores campus.
The Oracle Cloud is up and running now, and can be accessed here.
Long Time Coming
Registration requests currently are being taken for the various subscription-based application services, which include Fusion CRM, Fusion HCM (human capital management), and Oracle Social Network – a response to Salesforce’s Chatter.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Oracle CEO and co-founder Larry Ellison told the audience at the launch event. “We made the decision to rebuild all of our applications for the cloud almost seven years ago. We called it ‘Project Fusion.’ Some of our competitors called it ‘Project Con-fusion,’ which is memorable. Seven years of work, thousands of people, billions of dollars – to make the transition from being an on-premise application provider to a cloud application provider.”
What Ellison did not say 6 June was that back in 2008 – four years ago, and ostensibly while Oracle was developing cloud applications – he had publicly eviscerated cloud computing at Oracle World in San Francisco and in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Why? Because at that time, cloud computing wasn’t yet mature, no one knew exactly where it might be going, and it posed a huge threat to Oracle’s core business. Times certainly change, and so do attitudes. Oracle’s attitude and approach to cloud computing indeed has swung 180 degrees in the last few years as it has joined the pack in pursuit of cloud-related business.
These include the heavy-duty Oracle database in the form of a secure cloud service, available via monthly subscription. Other Oracle Cloud Platform Services will include:
- Java Services to develop, deploy and manage Java applications using Oracle WebLogic.
- Developer Services to allow application developers to collaboratively build applications.
- Web Services to build Web applications rapidly using PHP, Ruby, and Python.
- Mobile Services to allow developers to build cross-platform native and HTML5 mobile applications for smartphones and tablets.
- Documents Services to allow project teams to collaborate and share documents through online workspaces and portals.
- Sites Services to allow business users to develop and maintain visually engaging .com sites.
- Analytics Services to allow business users to build and share analytic dashboards and reports through the cloud.
Oracle has been stockpiling business applications over the years for on-premises, server-based deployments, such as Seibel Systems, JD Edwards, Hyperion and PeopleSoft. In the last year or so, however, the company has picked up cloud-ready acquisitions such as Taleo (for its HCM), RightNow (CRM) and Endeca (data management) to add to its new arsenal.
Application services in the Oracle Cloud will include:
- ERP: A complete set of Financial Accounting, Project Management, Procurement, Sourcing, and Governance, Risk & Compliance applications.
- HCM: A complete Human Capital Management solution including Global HR, Workforce Lifecycle Management, Compensation, Benefits, Payroll and other applications.
- Talent Management: A complete Talent Management solution, including Recruiting, Sourcing, Performance Management, and Learning.
- Sales and Marketing: A complete Sales and Marketing solution including Sales Planning, Territory Management, Leads & Opportunity Management, and Forecasting.
- Customer Experience: A complete Customer Service solution including Web Self-Service, Contact Centers, Knowledge Management, Chat, and e-mail Management.
Enterprises will use Oracle Cloud Social Services to engage with their customers about social marketing, commerce, service and listening. The platform also provides enterprises with a rich social networking environment for their employees to collaborate inside the enterprise. Oracle Cloud’s integrated social platform will include:
- Oracle Social Network to enable secure enterprise collaboration and purposeful social networking for business.
- Social Data Services to aggregate data from social networks and enterprise data sources to enrich business applications.
- Social Marketing and Engagement Services to enable marketers to centrally create, publish, moderate, manage, measure and report on their social marketing campaigns.
- Social Intelligence Services to enable marketers to analyse social media interactions and to enable customer service and sales teams to engage with customers and prospects effectively.
Oracle has three different businesses concerning the cloud: cloud-infrastructure provider, cloud-application vendor and as a cloud host.
Oracle offers Fusion Applications via on-premises, private cloud, public cloud or some combination of any of them. The applications offer capabilities with more than 100 modules in seven product families, including the aforementioned HCM, CRM and supply chain management.
The company also introduced cloud-based application programming interfaces (APIs) for interoperability, ensuring that workloads can be moved safely between clouds. The Oracle Cloud Resource Model API, a subset of Cloud API, relies on standard HTTP methods to interact with available resources to provision machines and modify configurations.
It encourages standardisation across the standard building blocks of the cloud, i.e., machines, storage volumes and networks.
On the cloud hardware side, Oracle also launched in Autumn 2010 a new system that allows companies to operate a private cloud within a self-contained system.
The Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud, also known as “cloud in a box,” features 30 servers with 360 cores, in addition to networking and storage, married to Oracle’s virtual machine (VM) technology operating in conjunction with Solaris and Linux assets.
Since then, Oracle also launched the fast in-memory Exalytics analytics server in 2011 and a Cloudera-powered Big Data Hadoop Appliance earlier this year. All with work natively with Oracle databases, cloud platforms and applications in the Oracle Cloud scenario.
Even as it moves aggressively into the cloud space, Oracle finds itself competing head-to-head for business dollars with IBM, which provides similar services, and smaller companies like Salesforce.com, which have centred their competitive strategy on the cloud. Microsoft’s increasing interest in providing cloud services for business via Azure is another area of potential concern for Oracle.
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