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What the 3 versions of Oracle Cloud at Customer offer users

Oracle's Cloud at Customer service lets users run its cloud technologies in their data centers. Here's what users get in the different versions of the managed service.

Not all organizations are willing or able to move their IT workloads to the cloud, so Oracle is bringing the cloud...

to them. Oracle Cloud at Customer is a fully managed service that runs in a company's own data center. Oracle supplies the hardware, installs the software, manages the day-to-day operations and provides ongoing support -- all for a monthly subscription fee.

Cloud at Customer is based on the same technologies that support Oracle Cloud, and it integrates seamlessly with Oracle's cloud services. In addition to installation and configuration, Oracle handles all patching and upgrades, does backups and provides round-the-clock systems monitoring. The offering also includes incident management, change management and technical support for both the hardware and software components.

Oracle offers three variations of Cloud at Customer: the standard service, plus Exadata Cloud at Customer and Big Data Cloud at Customer. Let's take a look at each of the deployment options.

The basics on Cloud at Customer

With the regular Oracle Cloud at Customer service, customers can run Oracle and non-Oracle workloads using any of the three primary cloud deployment models: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.

As with Oracle's cloud infrastructure, the IaaS platform in Cloud at Customer was designed according to open industry standards and includes a core set of capabilities that provide the compute, storage and networking resources needed to run a wide range of enterprise workloads. It also supports standard infrastructure automation tools, like Chef, Puppet and Ansible.

The PaaS component provides an integrated platform for building and deploying Oracle-based business applications or extending existing ones. And the SaaS platform makes it possible to use the cloud-based versions of Oracle's applications for customer experience management, HR, ERP and supply chain management, and other business functions.

Oracle has made many of its cloud services available to Cloud at Customer users. For example, customers can use the Oracle Java Cloud and Oracle Container Cloud services to develop and deploy Java applications. They can also use Oracle Identity Cloud to implement identity and access management policies or the likes of Oracle Database Cloud, Oracle Analytics Cloud and Oracle Event Hub Cloud to support their line-of-business applications.

Oracle Cloud at Customer requires both hardware and software subscriptions that are bundled together for billing. At a minimum, the hardware subscription includes what's needed to run the Oracle Cloud control plane, but customers can add optional hardware to boost performance or provide storage. The software subscription is similar to the one for Oracle Cloud.

Oracle has added a number of features to Cloud at Customer this year. For example, many of the services now include a Quick Start wizard for creating a service instance. Oracle has also updated the look and feel of the My Services Dashboard, making it easier to locate and perform key functions. Perhaps most importantly, Cloud at Customer got support for Universal Credits, a new Oracle subscription model that promises greater flexibility when subscribing to cloud services.

Oracle Exadata Cloud at Customer

Exadata Cloud at Customer is identical to Oracle Database Exadata Cloud Service, offering a high-end database hardware and software platform that's fully compatible with existing databases already deployed on premises or within Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Organizations can use Exadata Cloud at Customer to consolidate any of their database workloads, including online transaction processing, data warehousing and analytics ones.

Customers subscribing to Exadata Cloud at Customer can opt for one of four configurations that vary in the number of compute nodes and storage servers they include. Each configuration comes with a fixed amount of memory, storage and network resources; however, customers can choose the number of compute nodes. Exadata Cloud at Customer is offered only as a nonmetered subscription, meaning that customers must purchase a defined number of service units over a specific term.

As with the standard Oracle Cloud at Customer service, Oracle has recently made a number of improvements to the Exadata version, such as adding support for the Exadata X7 platform and Oracle Database 18c. In addition, customers can now define up to eight virtual machine clusters on their physical racks. Oracle has also added support for configuring database instances to run on a subset of the available compute nodes and for technologies like Oracle Data Guard and its Cloud Notification Service.

A comparison of Oracle's Exadata Cloud at Customer configurations
Comparing Exadata Cloud at Customer configurations

Oracle Big Data Cloud at Customer

Big Data Cloud at Customer provides a scalable big data environment that uses Oracle's Big Data Cloud infrastructure. It can run a wide range of workloads, from conventional Hadoop batch applications to ones that include interactive queries using Oracle Big Data SQL or other SQL-on-Hadoop tools.

The key is to know exactly what you're getting into and how the Cloud at Customer services will benefit your organization before you sign on the dotted line.

The big data version also provides components for delivering advanced analytics capabilities. For example, it comes with Oracle Big Data Spatial and Graph, Oracle Big Data Connectors and the Cloudera software suite, which includes Hadoop, Spark, Kafka and other Apache open source technologies. Customers can also deploy external software to support functionality such as fraud detection and natural language processing.

Big Data Cloud at Customer is built on top of Oracle Big Data Appliance. Oracle offers two subscription plans as nonmetered services. The first is the Starter Pack, which includes three nodes. The second plan simply adds nodes to the Starter Pack. Each Hadoop node is built with 32 cores of x86 processors, 256 GB of memory and 48 TB of available storage.

Deciding whether to use Cloud at Customer

The Oracle Cloud at Customer platforms can offer enterprise users a number of advantages. For example, they can help companies meet regulatory compliance requirements because data is kept in corporate data centers. The platforms also provide customers with more control over security, while reducing the throughput latencies that can occur with public cloud services.

That said, Cloud at Customer might not be for every organization. If latency, security and compliance aren't top priorities, a company might be fine with running workloads on a less expensive and more scalable public cloud platform. In addition, Cloud at Customer subscriptions come with restrictions, such as requiring a 48-month commitment and having a limited number of configuration options.

Cloud at Customer can also lead to greater vendor lock-in as users become more entrenched in the Oracle ecosystem. Of course, a certain level of vendor lock-in is inevitable with any setup -- especially for organizations fully committed to Oracle products -- but the concept of Cloud at Customer could seal the deal for a long time to come.

Despite these challenges, Oracle Cloud at Customer might be an ideal option for some organizations. The key is to know exactly what you're getting into and how the Cloud at Customer services will benefit your organization before you sign on the dotted line.

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