When you run a company with a market value of US$ 137 billion and revenues of around US$ 37 billion annually, you probably don’t eat much humble pie. Certainly Oracle CEO Larry Ellison wasn’t eating any as he announced Oracle Cloud -- no longer Oracle Public Cloud -- yesterday after years of poking fun at cloud providers.

Oracle, Ellison and the Cloud

There was little enough news in yesterday’s announcement in that most of it had been outlined at last year’s OpenWorld, but Larry Ellison did give some insights in the development of the cloud itself that are interesting.

Apparently -- and no one outside of Oracle knew this a during previous Oracle earning’s announcements when he spent so much time dissing Salesforce and SAP and the cloud in general -- Oracle had decided to go down this track some seven years ago.

Yes indeedy! He said that Oracle engineers had been working away in the background to develop its cloud computing services, which were code named “Project Fusion," but were better known and referred to by competitors as “Project Confusion."

It took seven years of work, thousands of people, billions of dollars, to make the transition from being an on-premises application provider to being a cloud application provider, as well as an on-premises provider,” he said.

Oracle Cloud Uptake

There were also some interesting stats, which even though they come from Oracle itself, gives an insight into the interest in this cloud. According to Ellison, it already has 10,000 customers and over 25 million users, and this at a time when the pricing of the products that he announced yesterday is still far from clear.

Undoubtedly quite a number of those customers have signed on since OpenWorld last year when he first outlined in public what the cloud was going to be for Oracle, and not just in theoretical terms either.

What we do know is that the 100-plus applications that will be available on the Oracle cloud will be priced at a per-user-per-month scale, but the exact details of how this will work were not divulged. No doubt this will be subject of another announcement soon.

Oracle vs. SAP

So the show began. “It's been a long time coming,” he said. The cloud will consist of SaaS applications as well as PaaS components including Java Cloud Service and Database Cloud Service.

True to his modest nature, he now described it as "the most comprehensive cloud on the planet Earth," during the webcast event. And there really is a lot here that is worth a closer look.

However, a Larry show wouldn’t be a real show without a pop at competitors and, sure enough, SAP was in the crosshairs again.

Leaving aside that SAP’s on-premises ERP software, Business Suite, has yet to make it to the cloud, but that BusinessByDesign for the SMB market has, Ellison argued that SAP wouldn’t have a full cloud offering until at least 2020.

Well, actually it was more a taunt than an argument: "20/20, excellent vision. 20/20, a great news program. 2020, a terrible time to get to the cloud...All that SAP's got is SuccessFactors.”

SAP have been quick to respond and in a reply cited in PC World SAP replied: “As usual, you can tell who Oracle is most worried about by the competitors they criticize most…Building a profitable cloud business depends on scale -- with 17 million users, SAP's SuccessFactors business has the largest user base of any cloud apps provider…”

And Salesforce was also on his mind: “We will be competing aggressively with Salesforce.com and sales automation.”

Exadata, Security, Upgrades

And so it went on, in the usual inimitable way, interesting more for the light it shone on the pre-occupations of the really big vendors in the business app space -- cloud or otherwise -- than for any new insights into the Oracle cloud.

However, there were three pieces of new information that are worth noting:

Exadata

The Oracle Cloud has been built on Oracle’s own Exadata database appliances and Exalogic middleware, which is not really surprising given how much faith the company has demonstrated in both since their release.

Security

Ellison says the security on his cloud is better than anyone else and that users will get their own virtual machine, which means their data will not be mixed with anyone else’s data, which will be a big selling point in contrast to other multitenancy clouds. Ellison, in fact, alluded to the fact that this comes from its background in building databases for the CIA.

Upgrades

Users will be able to decide within a one-year timeframe when they want to upgrade. While multitencancy systems reduce costs by upgrading a bunch of companies at the same time, it doesn’t leave the company with much choice as to when and where. Oracle says it is offering companies the choice.

There was one other announcement from Oracle yesterday that ties in with the cloud announcement. Oracle has also announced the release of Platinum Services.

In effect, they offer Oracle users better services, including those companies that sign up to the cloud.
Among the advantages of these is:

  •  5-minute Issue Response
  • 15-minute restoration or escalation to development
  • 30-minute joint debugging
  • 24/7 monitoring

There is a lot more, too, and all available for Exadata, Exalogic, SPARC Supercluster and Oracle Cloud. An interesting day at Oracle. Watch for client reactions to the cloud as users start picking up on it.