Oracle., the enterprise giant of the legacy era, hosted their annual user conference Oracle OpenWorld last week shed some more light on their cloud strategy. Oracle made some announcements focussed on cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain but it came out more like an organization trying to jumpstart their vehicle to catch up with competition than a thought leader pushing innovation. Oracle is almost a decade late into the cloud game and their efforts to compete is still focused on marketing than showcasing any substance. In this analysis, let us dive into Oracle’s strategy for the modern enterprise stack
After dismissing cloud for the better part of the decade and then calling their legacy enterprise applications as cloud, Oracle started focussing on Infrastructure as a Service to take on AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Bluemix. They built an infrastructure service from the ground up, tapping into AWS and Azure engineers, focussing on Compute, Storage, and Network. Then they expanded their offerings to include containers. Here is Rishidot Research’s SWOT analysis on Oracle IaaS strategy earlier this year.
Oracle OpenWorld 2017 Announcements
Oracle made many announcements at this year’s OpenWorld and we are highlighting some of the important ones on their cloud offerings
- Oracle’s cloud strategy involves basic IaaS which competes with AWS on the “enterprise-centric” pricing strategy and vendor claims about better performance and “PaaS” (quotes used to differentiate Oracle’s definition of PaaS from the traditional industry definition of PaaS) which includes their middleware offerings and database service. At this point in time, their differentiating factor from the industry leader AWS is pricing
- Set of container-based services on top of their IaaS to compete with container offerings by every other cloud provider. This includes Kubernetes based container service, Oracle container registry and Oracle container pipelines
- Announcement of an open source functions as a service platform. It is an early stage software than a service on top of Oracle IaaS. However, with their middleware tools and IaaS, this could be a Oracle cloud service in the future
- Announcements regarding AI strategy and blockchain tools in their cloud
- Oracle 18c, their enterprise database offering with automation based in machine learning and enterprise grade SLAs
Oracle is building a infrastructure as a service offering with compute, storage and network. They are also adding container services to the mix. Compared to the top three cloud providers, AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud is still at a barebones stage when it comes to the depth of their offering. We expected a bunch of higher order services on top of their IaaS but we didn’t see any announcements for newer services or even a coherent roadmap to match the depth of services in the other three providers. Oracle spent the news cycles around OpenWorld focussing on a strategy that is more about reducing their bleeding than convincing newer customers about Oracle Cloud as the infrastructure for innovation. They spent way too much time in the Larry Ellison keynote on their pricing strategy compared to AWS than showcasing innovation that could make their competitors sweat. Even their pricing strategy was more about convincing the customers of Oracle database and applications to use their IaaS than enticing newer customers to start embracing their cloud. We think that the pricing strategy is more old-fashioned and focussed on enabling their salespeople to close big deals than a pricing strategy for the modern era.
It is important for the market to have Oracle as a strong player but, to compete effectively, Oracle has to go at full speed to build depth in the services they offer on top of IaaS. Building iteratively is not going to either help them close the gap with the top three providers or in giving confidence to decision makers that betting on Oracle IaaS is a smart choice. Between now and the next Oracle OpenWorld, I would love to see Oracle add a wide range of higher order services so that enterprise customers can really innovate on top of Oracle cloud. Modern enterprise CIOs are more focussed on innovation than cost savings or iterative performance improvements. They need a powerful infrastructure on top of which their developers can innovate. It is critical for Oracle leadership to understand this need and build a compelling offering to outcompete AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.
Oracle’s container strategy is on the right path but the lack of higher order services is going to hinder the developer adoption of their container service. They do offer a suite of tools to manage the containerized applications from development to production but it is still barebones and they have their work cut out in making this offering more compelling as Amazon ECS or Google Container Engine.
I am glad to see Oracle talking about AI and Blockchains as a part of their modern stack and I am hoping that they have a production ready set of tools available by next OpenWorld.
Recommendations For Enterprise Decision Makers
If you are an Oracle Customer wanting to migrate your applications to the cloud, it makes complete sense to consider Oracle IaaS for your migration needs. However, this is recommended for the migration of existing applications than building any net new applications. They have limited set of services for building next gen applications. Wait for their offerings to mature before using Oracle cloud for newer applications.
If Oracle tech stack is not critical for your applications, AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud have a wide range of services needed for the modern applications. We strongly recommend these providers for your next gen applications at this point. Oracle can still evolve fast to compete with these providers by increasing the breadth and depth of their higher order services but they are not there yet.
In spite of their late start, Oracle has shown seriousness and commitment towards a more coherent cloud strategy. They still have a long way to go before they can catch up with their competitors. Right now, their IaaS is quite attractive for migrating existing applications built on Oracle stack because of the aggressive pricing but their cloud is not recommended for net new applications. This may change between now and next OracleWorld if they accelerate rapidly, either by building or acquiring companies, to offer higher order services. We will have to wait and see. Rishidot Research recommends enterprise decision makers to closely watch their roadmap for the next year before betting their strategy on Oracle Cloud.