Technology moves fast. When we started talking about the “Cloud”, 6-7 years ago, it was very much rocket science and only applicable to some organizations.
Over the years its adoption has increased, changing the paradigm on how we see storage, access to applications and some other items most people don’t see, such as platform and computer services.
I personally like Gartner’s definition of Cloud: “The set of disciplines, technologies, and business models used to deliver IT capabilities (software, platforms, and infrastructure) as an on-demand, scalable, elastic service”.
The automatic counterpart of “Cloud” – which has been evolving lately – is decreasing capital expenditure. It’s like “just virtualize and move it to the Cloud”. The evolution of Cloud vendors who are improving their offering and the education of the IT and business professionals are transforming the definition of cloud and its scope. Let’s understand some key concepts on how we should evaluate and consume these services as both IT professionals and end users:
Service-Based: this is one of the main concepts and serves as an abstract layer where the vendor automates the response as “ready-to-use” or “off-the-shelf”. This is a key concept for running your business, as it allows you to evaluate the vendor’s service. If you run your multi-million dollar company on a cloud provider that doesn’t offer a reasonable availability or response time, you’re not getting the real cloud experience. The cloud is here to solve and reduce your IT challenges, not to add more problems!
Scalable and Elastic: this is THE Cloud benefit. Not only for startups who don’t want to invest before they experience growth on their business and prefer to scale step by step, it’s also a savior for large organizations who need to increase their computer services for a particular point in time. Examples are everywhere: sales peak season for consumer good companies, or for sports companies with a particular match. Having that elasticity generates significant savings and, more importantly, keeps your business running without any issues.
Metered by Use: this is one of the features I love. Being able to spin an Oracle Database Enterprise Edition to test a particular behavior on an application for 8 hours and just pay-as-you-go $5.040/hr. This is a full paradigm change, and it has been inspired by an industry that has been here for years: utilities.
Lately there’s been much discussion about comparing Cloud computing and the electricity utility model. Personally, the power of Cloud computing goes far beyond, since the tools are richer and have more capabilities. Simply put, with cloud computing you could have cloud services feeding from multiple datacenters around the globe, while in electricity that is impossible due to distribution networks and costs. In terms of metering, this means you could measure consumption by so many factors that it would make a considerable difference and generate huge savings.
Shared or Limited: last but not least, this aspect will change the numbers on your bill. The definition of this element will make the Cloud into “Public” (shared) or “Private” (limited or not shared). This is how vendors generate their profits, by building economies of scale and leveraging tech stack resources with maximum efficiency. To put it simple, just think about your computer and how many resources you’re not currently using, and how they could be shared with that co-worker who has 30 windows open for the month end close. That same rule applies with vendors using the EXA-stack or similar server capabilities.
Let us navigate through the Cloud to see the players on each of the “Cloud areas.”
Over the last two years, the rumor of Oracle getting late to the Cloud was completely dismantled, and now numbers are showing that Oracle is not just a simple competitor, it is leading the way to the cloud with a full portfolio of products. But what does this mean to customers and system integrators?
It means that Oracle is strongly investing in the future, giving customers the ability to extend the products they consume and providing system integrators with menu options to add services. So basically when you have hardware and software, your offering can simply be extended with no limits. And how’s the company faring? Let’s just say the numbers show Oracle is growing faster than one of the SaaS leaders (Salesforce.com).
Exploring the Oracle offering is something that I enjoy doing every time that I talk to customers, because it is so rich and can be used in so many ways.
There’s quite a set of applications, including a large number of best-of-breed applications, which in the past was not part of Oracle’s portfolio: Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Supply Chain and Enterprise Performance Management. In addition, you have the Social Network, which, very broadly speaking, allows your organization to have its own corporate “facebook” and a series of Analytics and Data as a Service applications. You must keep in mind that the every system integrator, with IT Convergence leading in Latin America, can implement and also integrate these tools with your existing Oracle environment.
And the offering continues with what I think is great a great option for organizations of all sizes, which is platform as a service (PaaS) – including Database and Java as the biggest players, but also BI, Mobile, Big Data and 10 other services which simplify the complexity and decrease the initial investment on your project.
Finally, the Infrastructure as a Service with Compute and Storage as a Service provides billing metrics that go from a simple storage capacity to data transfer or requests.
To summarize, the Cloud is here and there’s a big player that is setting everything to become number one with a quality offering covering every angle. It will be just a matter of time (and this is metered in months) to see Oracle becoming the number one company in the world – and maybe, becoming a synonym of “Cloud”.