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Oracle CloudWorld rollout includes new serverless options

New Oracle Cloud Infrastructure serverless offerings hide more of the gory infrastructure details from application developers to hasten software delivery workflows.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure will take on a larger share of managing cloud-native deployments for developers via four serverless products introduced at Oracle CloudWorld this week.

The new serverless options join a burgeoning list of more than one hundred Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) services that developers can use to build, extend, modernize and run applications. They include a new virtual nodes capability for the Oracle Kubernetes Engine (OKE) managed service, container instances, a message queue and workflow orchestration.

"Oracle's OCI enhancements speak to the need to abstract complex infrastructure configuration requirements around setup and maintenance of modern application architectures like microservices," said Charlotte Dunlap, an analyst at GlobalData. "We'll see numerous solutions which address serverless capabilities being added to technology providers' DevOps and application platforms (including AWS) this year."

Although OCI is still a wisp in the shadow of the three cloud titans -- AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure --it is gaining market share in the cloud platform services market for IaaS and PaaS, according to a Gartner report from February. When Oracle Cloud first launched in 2015, its IaaS and PaaS represented just 2% of the total market, but this figure grew more than 100% in 2020 and 80% in the first quarter of 2021.

While developers have other options in Kubernetes serverless tools, Oracle is in a good position to target this technology at its large installed base of enterprise developers using OCI.
Charlotte DunlapAnalyst, GlobalData

In part, this was because Oracle encouraged its on-premises customers to move to its cloud through flexible licensing options, according to the report, which also attributes some of this growth to more enterprises being willing to consider multi-cloud deployments. Oracle, which reported $42 billion in revenue for its fiscal 2022, has more than 430,000 customers, according to its website.

There are other vendor options to abstract Kubernetes for developers, including Docker Desktop and Mirantis Lens, but Oracle's existing user population represents a significant swath of enterprise customer prospects for OCI.

"While developers have other options in Kubernetes serverless tools, Oracle is in a good position to target this technology at its large installed base of enterprise developers using OCI," Dunlap said.

Developers struggle with cloud-native management

Cloud-native technologies are popular, but managing a cloud native architecture is a challenge, said Larry Carvalho, principal consultant at Robust Cloud LLC. For example, Kubernetes management and orchestration has a steep learning curve that developers must tackle in addition to their burgeoning workload under the DevOps model.

"The Oracle serverless approach abstracts the complexity by providing an easy path to cloud native adoption," he said.

Although OCI has had an option to manage part of the stack for the last three years, with a new virtual nodes option for OKE that Oracle officials describe as serverless Kubernetes, Oracle manages more of the container orchestration stack, including cluster server nodes. This would be preferable for development teams that lack Kubernetes management skills, said Leo Leung, vice president of product management at OCI.

OCI four new serverless options
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure's new services

OCI's Container Instances, also revealed at Oracle CloudWorld, target developers who want containers but don't need orchestration with Kubernetes. Container Instances could be used to test a simple service before it goes into production, Leung said.

The third serverless offering, OCI Queue, is a managed message queue service to handle application scaling and spread out a service response. For example, a social media website might have an image processor and an image distributor; the queue is placed in between the two applications to help scale their communication load during an image upload spike. Leung said that previously developers would have to import their own queuing system, such as open-source RabbitMQ, but they now have the option of using the built-in OCI Queue.

Finally, OCI's Workflow addition lets developers design multi-step processes, such as training an AI to recognize images, and have that process run as a service with Oracle managing the infrastructure, Leung said. Prior to workflow, developers would usually have to write the code from scratch, Leung said.

"Automating business processes with traditional technologies is cumbersome and time-consuming," Carvalho said. "The Oracle workflow engine gives developers a graphical interface to automate business processes."

However, notably missing from the lineup is a serverless security strategy, which Oracle would be wise to articulate for customers, Dunlap said.

"The industry will see heightened importance around application, API, container and serverless security solutions this year," she said.

The price of Virtual Nodes for OKE and Container Instances depends on underlying compute and storage resource consumption, with no additional cost for management of Kubernetes clusters. A general-purpose VM starts at roughly 10 cents per hour, according to Oracle's cloud pricing page; block storage starts at $4.25 per month for 100 GB and 6000 IOPS.

Pricing is not yet available for Workflow and OCI Queue, which has limited availability, with general availability expected in the next few months.

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