The Oracle Cloud, still in its nascent stage, has several challenges it must overcome if it plans to compete with established cloud players such as Amazon and Salesforce.com. One of those is cloud integration.
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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison announced the Oracle Public Cloud last fall, and then renamed it the Oracle Cloud in an announcement this week. Thus far all that have been available are two Fusion Applications modules in the cloud -- customer relationship management (CRM) and human capital management (HCM). But Oracle plans on extending its reach to include more than 100 applications, Java development and database services in its public cloud service.
“I don’t think there are a lot of companies that have put a lot of hard-core applications into the public cloud, unless they’re a Web 2.0 company that lives there,” said Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group in Beaverton, Ore. “You have to move data back and forth. When you’re doing that through your network, you have bandwidth costs, among other things.”
With Oracle still ramping up its monthly subscription-based public cloud, Olds’ comments are even more on point. Furthermore, integrating those cloud modules with in-house Oracle and non-Oracle applications is something that can’t be overlooked.
Understanding cloud integration
Patricia Dues said the Las Vegas city government, where she is IT manager, has been experimenting with the cloud in general, though it hasn’t yet used the Oracle Cloud. Dues said one of the major things to consider when moving to any cloud is application integration.
“They have to talk to each other,” she said. “You need those interfaces. That’s what it’s all about, is planning. I’m afraid that some people don’t think far enough into it. They tend to jump into the cloud because of initial cost savings.”
Las Vegas has experimented with putting some project management software and AutoCAD engineering software in the cloud. It has also been at the forefront of testing Fusion HCM in a hosted environment, but Dues said it probably wouldn’t put it in the Oracle Cloud because they are “very concerned with losing control of HR data.”
With enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, Dues likes the idea of running it in the cloud first to work out the bugs -- both vendor and non-vendor based -- and then pulling the software back in-house. But as before, Dues said that requires a lot of planning.
“When you get into putting major systems, like ERP systems, out to the cloud, sometimes they might not be coming back,” she said. “If you plan to take it back, you have to make sure you’ll be able to. It’s a big project to migrate everything back.”
The Oracle Cloud will initially be hosted at Oracle data centers in the United States, with pricing on a monthly subscription basis that includes software licensing. The Oracle Cloud site said that depending on the service, it will either be priced per user per month or per environment per month. The company is basing its public cloud on its own Exadata and Exalogic machines.
Oracle already has its own hosted service with Oracle On Demand. Oracle says its public cloud is different mainly in that applications will now be offered as services on a subscription basis. With Oracle On Demand, customers had to buy their own Oracle software, licenses and support. With the cloud, the subscription price includes that. Oracle said that On Demand will not go away.
R. “Ray” Wang, an analyst with Constellation Research in Monta Vista, Calif., said the Oracle Public Cloud is a viable product for existing Oracle shops looking for a transition into the cloud. But it won’t be an easy sell.
“New customers will still look at Amazon and Salesforce.com,” he said. “But for core Oracle customers it’s a compelling product.”