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Oracle Cloud Finally Arrives, With a Focus on the Enterprise

Oracle has joined the cloud movement with an announcement this week of Oracle Cloud, a set of integrated, subscription-based services for its software customers.

In a statement announcing the cloud strategy, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison explained its late arrival in the market by saying it took "almost seven years of relentless engineering and innovation, plus key strategic acquisitions. An investment of billions."

He added, "We are now announcing the most comprehensive cloud on the planet Earth. Most cloud vendors only have niche assets. They don't have platforms to extend." Ellison went on to explain that Oracle's suite of socially enabled applications was designed on a standards-based platform.

Oracle Cloud enables self-service for both business users and developers, while business users can order, configure, extend and monitor their applications, according to the company.

"What was interesting here was that was more of a focus ... on enterprise applications than in some of the previous cloud offerings," says Jean Bozman, research VP, enterprise platforms, at IDG. "Certainly there are other cloud offerings from HP and IBM [with a] heavy focus on security and availability and protecting workloads and data." People started with application development when cloud offerings first came out, says Bozman, which is not the same as a production application.

"What they're talking about here is applications that are used every day by the enterprise," including enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management or human capital management applications, she says. "Those are all pretty heavy, demanding workloads, and [Oracle is] saying if you put those in the cloud, you need a lot of security and availability." The company says it will provide those services via the servers/storage and software infrastructure in Oracle Cloud, to ensure business continuity for end users, adds Bozman.

Oracle has announced 100 applications that have been certified for use on the Oracle Cloud, and said more will be offered over time. At a press event announcing the new cloud offerings, Ellison took aim at some competitors, including SAP, noting that it doesn't expect to have a cloud offering until 2020.

Oracle Cloud can be accessed by end users who also use the social media interface to participate in group discussions when using the enterprise applications. Competitors on the social media side include Salesforce.com and startup Workday.

Oracle Cloud is powered by an infrastructure that includes Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic to provide high performance, reliability and security for running critical business applications, the company said.

Bozman says the other interesting piece of the announcement is that customers will be able to link applications running in Oracle Cloud with on-premise applications. "That's something customers have told us in surveys they are concerned about: They want availability and security and the ability for their data to be transferred to on-premises and back" to the cloud, she says. "They want the data within their four walls."

Oracle's announcement is an about-face for Ellison, who in 2008 referred to cloud computing as "most nonsensical" and "complete gibberish." At the time, he said the company wouldn't do anything differently other than "change the wording on some of our ads."

Oracle Cloud is available now.