Well if you're going to make a dramatic about face from total dismissal of cloud computing, this is a relatively credible way to do it. Following up on its announcement of a serious cloud future at Oracle Open World 2011, the company delivered new cloud services with some credibility at this last week's show. It's a strategy with laser focus on selling to Oracle's own installed base and all guns aimed at Salesforce.com. While the promise from last year was a homegrown cloud strategy, most of this year's execution has been bought. The strategy is essentially to deliver enterprise-class applications and middleware any way you want it - on-premise, hosted and managed or true cloud. A quick look at where they are and how they got here:
* A real Software as a Service portfolio now - On the SaaS front, nearly all of Oracle's new announcements were the integration of its myriad SaaS acquisitions in 2011-2012 - social sites, business intelligence, marketing services, etc. They are basically filling out a portfolio of SaaS services that include its Oracle Fusion Applications. So now, what about the legacy applications - when will they move these to SaaS? Customers shouldn't wait around for Oracle to migrate its older, on-premise applications to the cloud; there's no clear roadmap for that to happen. What Forrester clients should count on, are new generation SaaS applications that eventually will replace the on-premise predecessors. Oracle's fast path to SaaS is through M&A, so despite the remarks from Oracle's CFO Safra Catz last week, Oracle clearly isn't done buying its way into the cloud space. Not by a long shot.
* OnDemand is not cloud...or is it? - You could have made a drinking game out of all the Oracle spokepeople's slipups when they talked about the portfolio of managed services called OnDemand - oops, I mean Oracle Cloud Services. Despite the official line from Oracle being that OnDemand is not part of the Oracle Cloud Services family, that wasn't clearly communicated across all the session speakers. Several speakers from the OnDemand team, kept using the cloud and OnDemand terms interchangeably. Don't be fooled by this. There are security, control, agility and most definitely cost differences between the three modes of hosting (see chart below). If Oracle sets up and manages an Oracle implementation specifically for you on isolated resources with a unique configuration, you're paying more for that and are likely locked in for multiple years. You won't get pay-per-use, auto-scaling, fast feature enhancements or self-service. But then again, many of you don't really want that. Ellison is right when he says that customers want the choice of SaaS versus managed hosting versus on-premise. And he's right that he can offer all three choices on the same common infrastructure layer. Just know going in that there are many, many differences between all the services being marketed as cloud, and you should know which deployment choice you want before talking with Oracle.
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