Oracle Steps Up to the Cloud

September 21, 2010 Off By Hoofer
Grazed from IT Business Edge.  Author:  Arthur Cole.

IBM, HP and Dell own the enterprise. Oracle owns the carrier networks. And now that Oracle is on the map with a new-found hardware platform courtesy of Sun Microsystems, will it be very long before the terms "Oracle" and "enterprise" are no longer akin to oil and water?

From the looks of things at Oracle OpenWorld this week, it seems Ellison & Co. certainly have the enterprise in their sights — or make that the enterprise cloud.

It would have been very easy to simply fold Oracle’s already impressive software portfolio onto any number of Sun boxes and call it an enterprise platform. But by mixing and matching servers, storage, networking and database software into the Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Oracle is signaling that it has no intention of playing catch-up to last year’s technology.

Instead, the company is looking to leverage its leadership in Java programming with the still wide open field of cloud computing to gain a leg up on the future of enterprise computing. To do that, the company has compiled an impressive platform that can field upwards of 30 64-bit x86 multicores (360 cores max, at the moment) with a parallel InfiniBand networking fabric and supported by close to 4 TB of solid state storage and a 40 TB SAN. And it can all be pooled or partitioned as needed with the company’s Coherence management software.

Users will be able to run either Linux or Solaris, although the company has added a number of features to the new Solaris 11 that should draw the interest of anyone looking to get on the cloud. These include virtual networking tools designed to create multitiered application environments and the ability to massively scale hardware threads, memory and I/O.

But the most telling aspect of Oracle’s seriousness about the enterprise is the reaction the company has gotten from its universe of rivals/partners. Most dramatic was HP, which quickly dropped its lawsuit over the hiring of former CEO Mark Hurd, and then launched a turnkey program designed to quickly port Oracle applications like E-Business Suite, Fusion Middleware and the PeopleSoft Enterprise suite onto the Matrix infrastructure. If HP intends to provide a broad platform capable of fitting into a range of enterprise environments, it clearly thinks Oracle will be a player in the market going forward.

The same goes for smaller firms like F5 Solutions. The company has long touted its ability to provide fluid data environments based on network intelligence and broad compatibility with enterprise software environments. Starting now, clients will be able to integrate F5 tools like the BIG-IP traffic manager and the WAN Optimization Module with Oracle database solutions. The combo should go a long way toward smoothing out the kinks that invariably arise when negotiating with public cloud services.

To be clear, Oracle still has a long road to travel before it can vie for the top of the enterprise hill. The cloud is shaping up to be a more open environment than traditional enterprise vendors had counted on, and the company’s commitment to Linux goes a long way to satisfying that need. However, any attempt to "control" cloud environments as if they were mere extensions of today’s closed enterprise environments is bound to be met with suspicion.

And for a guy like Larry Ellison, sharing IT environments does not come naturally.