Oracle cloud computing application solutions get second look from some

While Oracle cloud computing may not be for everyone, interest is slowly growing as Oracle and other vendors offer a variety of solutions for safely deploying applications in the cloud.

When DAI began running Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) about five years ago, the independent development organization decided to go with Oracle as its host. Soon, however, it began to look for a less expensive hosting provider that could offer more personalized support.

After evaluating its options -- which included hosts NaviSite, Sunera, OneNeck and HCL Technologies -- DAI decided the enterprise hosting provider NaviSite was the best deal for its price. NaviSite offered EBS support for DAI in Navisite’s own data center. While this worked well for awhile, DAI, which provides business development for developing countries, needed a more flexible infrastructure for its data. Moving to an Oracle cloud computing solution seemed like the best option.

“We got to a certain point where we had outgrown the environment … we would have to upgrade, get another box,” said Larry Campbell, vice president of information management and Technology at DAI. “But when you move into the cloud, you don’t have to worry about those things.”

While many Oracle shops like DAI are beginning to deploy in the cloud, confusion about cloud computing and long-held concerns about security and data privacy have prevented some -- especially those with mission-critical applications -- from moving over. But as more vendors begin to offer Oracle cloud solutions and address these concerns, interest is slowly growing. A recent SearchOracle.com survey of 438 Oracle users show that about one-third are using cloud in some way, such as for on-demand apps, application hosting and testing and development. In the previous year’s survey, 82% of respondents reported no cloud computing strategy. 

Campbell said he liked that with cloud computing, you only have to worry about the business requirements for your applications, rather than the hardware and operating systems that those apps are sitting on. He also said that DAI can only pay for what it’s using and needs, another benefit of moving to the cloud.

DAI decided to stick with NaviSite for its Oracle cloud computing needs, and it is in the process of moving its EBS 11.4 (to be upgraded to 12.2) over to NaviSite’s Managed Application Services (MAS). MAS sits on NaviSite’s NaviCloud Platform, which is an infrastructure based on a number of technologies including VMware, Cisco’s Unified Computing System and IBM XiV storage, and it runs on an integrated Oracle RAC Database.

NaviSite calls its cloud services “enterprise public clouds,” but they do include virtualized firewalls and the ability to secure information within the organization, which is characteristic of private clouds . Noel Yuhanna, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that the popularity of these private clouds is growing.

“At least 60% of organizations are looking at internal cloud,” he said. “A lot of customers are looking and it’s mainly because of cost savings.”

Oracle is acknowledging this interest and jumping on the private cloud bandwagon. Yuhanna said that while Oracle does not have a strong strategy for the public cloud like Microsoft does, adoption of public clouds is at only about 7%. 

The software giant recently touted its own Oracle cloud computing offerings -- especially its new Exalogic “cloud in a box” -- at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld. It compared this new system, which has 30 servers and 360 cores, to Amazon's cloud computing approach, which is based on the idea that cloud computing is a platform rather than an application. Oracle also announced that it has stepped up its partnership with Amazon Web Services and will now certify and support much of its software, including EBS and the Oracle Database, on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) on Oracle VM.

But Oracle’s promises around cloud computing -- and the growing number of cloud computing options -- do not give everyone enough reason to move over. One Oracle application architect at a top financial exchange, who requested to remain anonymous, said that even though some of his company’s applications would probably fit nicely into the cloud, they are mainly dealing with “very private data.”  They are not an Internet-driven business and wouldn’t meet the service level agreements (SLAs) for the cloud, he said.

“I think it’s based on what your organization’s business goal is,” he said. “We’re not in the web space. It doesn’t fit our business model.”

Still, the options for Oracle users interested in the cloud are growing, and the cloud computing market is expected to top $25 billion by the end of 2013, according to a new report from Renub Research. Therefore, vendors are taking increased measures to address security concerns and SLAs. For example, the Cloud Security Alliance, a nonprofit organization that NaviSite is a member of, was formed in 2008 to address the need for promotion and research of best practices in cloud computing security.

Another vendor entering the Oracle cloud computing space is HP, which announced new private cloud solutions for Oracle applications last month. Kevin Lyons, HP’s director of Solutions and Alliances, said that these custom cloud solutions are based on HP’s existing BladeSystem Matrix, and though they include new enhancements, many of its features, such as the HP service designer and self-service portal, are nothing new.

“Both of us have been talking about private cloud for a long time, [but] haven’t made a lot of noise at it being private cloud,” he said of HP and Oracle. “We’re bundling up now, taking advantage of what we’ve already established with Matrix.”

Lyons recognized that “everybody is going to evolve at their own pace” when it comes to the private cloud, and HP is starting small by offering PeopleSoft as its first supported application. However, Lyons said its infrastructure will be capable of supporting customers moving to “next generation Oracle.” 

“When we look at Oracle, the direction is heading toward Fusion Applications,” he said. “We’re gearing up to be the provider for that.”

Shayna Garlick can be reached at sgarlick@techtarget.com

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