Sunday, September 26, 2010

A tale of two clouds: Oracle-on-Amazon vs.

It's all been very exciting in The Cloud lately!
I had actually planned this post to cover my visit to Cloudforce London which took place on 8th Sept 2010 but I only just got round writing and the cloud discussion has already moved on to something far far more interesting. That is, the competing visions of cloud computing from Marc Benioff's and Larry Ellison's Oracle.

"Beware of the false cloud!" was the cry of Marc Benioff in his engaging keynote at Cloudforce London. Benioff announced his "cloud computing test" where he said cloud computing:
  • Requires no additional hardware or software
  • Is democratic - that is being able to offer the same solution to large and small customers
  • Is multi-tenant
  • Is pay-per-use
  • Is sustainable - Benioff cited Nucleus Research figures that put emissions at 0.02g CO2 per transaction versus an estimate of the On-premise equivalent requiring 1.38g CO2 per transaction

    " is an application on the internet" declared Larry Ellison's at Oracle OpenWorld. He continued to claim that Oracle's definition agreed with where cloud computing:

    • Is a platform on which you can run standards-based software and databases
    • Forms a development environment for all your applications
    • Is virtualized and elastic
    • Is available in both public and private modes
    Oracle's foray into cloud solutions continuted with the OpenWorld announcement of the Exalogic server "cloud-in-a-box" solution and the certification of Oracle ERP and CRM products to run on Amazon EC2.  

    So which model of cloud computing is the superior one?

    This is a tough question and after struggling to grapple with it in the last couple hours I've finally decided it's not one I'm going to proclaim I can answer - at least not in this post. However, I'd like to take the two possibilities for a ride in a couple thought experiments:

    1. An organisation choosing Oracle-on-Amazon can migrate (or build) a number of functions to the cloud including ERP and CRM. Investment in licences and development will be much the same as before and in-house skills can be leveraged. A standards-based development environment will enable developers to custom-build solutions in the cloud as they do in the on-premise environment today. Infrastructure will be reduced but the applications will not offer the efficiencies of multi-tenant architectures. Maintenance, support and upgrade complexities will remain. 

    2. The present day alternative to achieving a significant shift to cloud-based infrastructure, involves choosing a selection of SaaS / PaaS options like (along with some solutions from the  AppExchange /, Cordys, Workday and then knitting them together. Multi-tenant architectures should mean a better carbon-footprint, support / upgrade challenges simplified and lower TCO overall. However, the organisation will be tied to these vendors' roadmaps and custom development based upon vendor proprietary toolsets.

    There will be no single right answer to adopting cloud in the enterprise and an organisation's decision-making will be heavily influenced by their current landscape and short-term goals. An organisation with existing investment in Oracle could take a gradual evolutionary track through the Oracle-on-Amazon route. If many enterprises take this obvious path, then we will not arrive at the seismic shift to the multi-tenant architected world of utility computing that many cloud enthusiasts envision. 

    Whatever route is chosen, as IT management carefully calculate their strategies they will be well-advised to check the possible backdoors used for stealth cloud adoption. More than likely this is already taking place in the business office down the hallway or even by the development team next door. Perhaps here a strategy is already being implemented. Perhaps it is from here that cloud computing will find real disruptive power.

    Disclaimer: The views contained in this post are my own and do not reflect the views of my past or present employers. 

    No comments:

    Post a Comment