Oracle cloud

SAN FRANCISCO - While walking to the Moscone Center here during Oracle OpenWorld this week, you stood a decent chance of passing a Titanic-sized construction site for the Salesforce Tower.

It’s the perfect anecdote to what Oracle faces: a major competitor’s name graces what will be the second-tallest building west of the Mississippi.

Big Players Fight for Expanding Pie

Then there’s Amazon Web Services, which has sucked up much of the world’s cloud hosting.

And a resurgent Microsoft Azure is another major player in this space. It’s no wonder this week why Oracle czar Larry Ellison focused so much on pitching on how Oracle thinks it’s turned itself into a cloud-ready company. It’s quite the change, since it wasn’t long ago he mocked the whole concept of cloud computing.

Oracle’s claim to fame is that it can do it all: Software-as-a-Service (Saas), Platform-as-a-Service (Paas), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) and robust cloud security.

Oracle is essentially trying to play to its traditional strengths, but update them for today’s cloud-enabled world. The company rolled out its Oracle Elastic Compute Cloud at OpenWorld this week, the centerpiece of its strategy to convince would-be and current customers that Oracle gets the desire for cloud connectivity.

Shawn Price, Oracle’s senior vice president for cloud, said the big differentiator would be in how Oracle can save companies money by opting for its services. Along with the application and platform packages, they will no longer need to maintain their own server facilities to host software.

“Oracle is uniquely able to do that,” he said. “We’re able to assist companies in achieving storage pricing that is at pennies per terabyte, with computer power and operational excellence.”

Competition is Tight

Oracle has been working furiously to transform all its software offerings to be available over the Internet. It hasn’t been an easy conquest, as Oracle built much of its business with software that ran on client computers. It’s a tremendous engineering feat to reconfigure the enormous amount of software and backend services the company runs over to the cloud.

But it must do so in order to take on other players like Microsoft, Workday, and even Google, which has waded into the enterprise space with its own cloud computing services.

Ellison essentially tried to buy the company time in the minds of conference attendees by portraying a “generational shift” and “early days” for the cloud era. But plenty of companies are doing well in this arena, with Salesforce, Amazon, and Microsoft leading the charge to the cloud.

It may be early, but Oracle is like a massive cruise ship that turns slowly. By the time we get to OpenWorld 2016, it will be worth evaluating how much movement there has been in making Oracle more nimble for the cloud era.