Last week I had the opportunity to attend Tech Field Day 17, and one of the most interesting sessions of the week was with Oracle Cloud. I had been briefed about their storage options a few weeks ago and they looked pretty darn good. This time the focus was primarily on compute options, which helped to get a better picture of its service lineup and to change my mind about the real potential of Oracle when it comes to the cloud.
A Different Oracle and an Intelligent Strategy
When Larry Ellison launched Oracle Cloud I was, like many others, skeptical. I understood the SaaS part and also some other services they had built to support it, but I never thought of them as a competitor in the IaaS space. Not to mention when they launched their bare-metal cloud, which I was quite unimpressed with and biased to the point that I never thought about them as convincing or good at all.
Furthermore, all my previous experiences with Oracle were not exactly positive, mostly due to their overly aggressive sales strategy and tactics. They simply know they’re the market leader when it comes to enterprise software and can’t avoid dealing with them for most of your critical business applications, making their approach to customers very unfriendly.
The impression I got when I spoke to Leo Leung (Cloud Infrastructure product manager) first, and then later to the rest of his team at TFD, was totally different though. This team seems humble and yet audacious and driven by technology much more than by sales. Their ideas are convincing and innovative when compared to most cloud providers, and some of the services offered to the public are really quite impressive.
They know their strengths and weaknesses, and are reflected well in their strategy. In fact, thanks to the performance and SLA characteristics they can provide on their cloud infrastructure, their first target is their current user base, with Big Data analytics and high performance workloads (HPC and M&E) immediately following. (you can find a few examples in the following video)
For example, by providing high performance bare-metal instances and storage options with amazingly good SLAs, Oracle is in the position to migrate legacy enterprise applications to its IaaS cloud. The demo shown during the TFD session was great and it simulated fails, both at the application and at the DB level. Oracle has all it needs to make this kind of migration successful, including professional services, powerful low latency networks, connectivity options with all the major carrier and service providers, and so on… not to mention their prices, which are pretty good when compared to the competition!
Designed for performance, but cost savvy
Oracle IaaS cloud is designed for performance and, contrary to what the competition usually offers, it provides precise numbers on what you get from compute instances in terms of IOPS, latency and throughputs. And that’s not all – it is designed around the latest technology available (like NVMe for example), allowing to take advantage of protocols not commonly available from other providers.
The benchmarks shown by Oracle during the demos are really good and resources are charged by the hour, opening up to the possibility of building large high performance clusters for compute intensive applications. The cases histories discussed during the session speak for themselves.
The IaaS portfolio includes all Oracle databases and managed infrastructure components like Exadata as well as many tools to import and export data.
One of the things that I really appreciated about Oracle Cloud is that there are no egress costs, making prices clearer and the overall cost of the service much more predictable.
Closing the Circle
Oracle Cloud is not Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure if we compare the number of products available, regions and third party support, but it has much more to say than I expected.
There are at least two cases where it excels:
- legacy enterprise applications, built around stringent hardware and availability requirements. (especially when there are Oracle components involved)
- High performance workloads, including Big Data analytics and HPC applications.
- Kubernetes-based applications with performance needs.
Once again, Oracle Cloud is not the general purpose cloud you would probably start with, but it has a lot to say if you are an Oracle customer and you are looking for consistent and predictable performance across services at a decent price.
This is all for now, but keep an eye on any news coming from Oracle OpenWorld. There are new features of the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure that will be announced during the event and they are quite impactful!