Oracle cloud services aim to pull users out of IT comfort zone

Oracle's effort to keep up in cloud adds options for users

In 2008, at Oracle's annual OpenWorld conference, then-CEO Larry Ellison famously described cloud computing as "everything that we already do" and said the company might respond to its emergence simply by changing "the wording on some of our ads." Over time, however, the changes went far deeper than that, as Oracle found itself scrambling to avoid being left behind by faster-moving cloud rivals.

Oracle now positions itself as a cloud-first vendor -- the last two versions of its flagship database were initially released in the cloud only. Oracle cloud services dominate the discussion at OpenWorld and other events, as well as the company's marketing initiatives on a day-to-day basis.

Despite the change in tune and ongoing catch-up efforts, Ellison's bravado remains intact. As Oracle's CTO, he routinely takes swipes at public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services and other competitors. In an OpenWorld 2017 keynote, he denigrated AWS technologies and vowed to write into contracts that a new cloud data warehouse service would cost users less than half of what Amazon Redshift does.

Threatening AWS in the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market could be a tall order for Oracle. In a June 2017 Magic Quadrant report on IaaS platforms, Gartner analysts ranked Oracle far below AWS and Microsoft on vision and ability to execute. Oracle's IaaS development roadmap should eventually make its namesake cloud "attractive for targeted use cases," the analysts wrote. But current users "need to have a very high tolerance for risk, along with strong technical acumen," they cautioned.

Oracle's SaaS and platform-as-a-service offerings appear to be making more inroads with customers -- not surprising, given the huge user base for the company's databases and business applications. This handbook looks more closely at Oracle cloud services and the process of migrating to them.