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May 16, 2017

Oracle Cloud: Standing tall against AWS and Microsoft Azure

Will Oracle's cloud offering ever rival the big three?

By Tom Ball

The cloud market is an increasingly competitive market, with AWS and Microsoft Azure still standing their ground at the top of the pile. While AWS, Azure and Google Cloud vie for dominance in the so-called Cloud Wars, there is another tech giant on the periphery also looking to grab a slice of the profitable cloud market.

Oracle, the second-largest software maker by revenue, was once very critical of cloud as it was emerging onto the tech scene. Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison notoriously asked when the ‘idiocy’ of cloud was going to stop, claiming that the tech was ‘complete gibberish’ and ‘insane’. However, the company has done a total 360 on that way of thinking, instead setting its sights on becoming recognised in cloud amongst the big names of AWS and Azure.

Recently, visibility as a serious cloud company has been bolstered by deals with the likes of Equinix, alongside bold fighting talk from key execs in the company.

Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd recently claimed that the company did not require the number of data centres that the other top providers such as AWS and Microsoft Azure need, stating that Oracle gained the edge with greater efficiency. Amazon VP James Hamilton, however, attacked this claim on his personal blog, doubting that Oracle “has, or will ever get, servers 2x faster than the big three cloud providers”.

It seems, however, that the fighting talk and high-profile deals have gone a long way in increasing Oracle’s reputation in cloud, as Oracle’s John Abel told CBR: “We are getting more and more visible; I notice now in the press that actually Oracle is being mentioned in the same sentence as Amazon and Microsoft, just starting to make that visibility movement, which is so exciting, because that’s where the market is.”

John Abel,Senior Business Director, Oracle Engineered Systems, EMEA

“The amount of new customers that are now using Oracle is amazing and their appetite for usage is incredible, the other thing we found which is really nice for us because in some of the pillars of cloud we are new entrants in the market in the industry context seeing as we have been doing SaaS for twelve plus years, and IaaS has been in the last two years or three years” Mr Abel said.

The only way that Oracle will stand tall against AWS or Azure is by attracting customers – like any business – with Abel dismissing the challenge in poaching custom as  “there is no loyalty in the cloud, so if developers really want to use it, they will just lift and shift to whatever platform they want.”

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“I tell customers don’t treat cloud like on-premise, it is not a five year commitment, it is not a ten year commitment, it is a here and now commitment. Evaluate the market on a continuous basis, because cloud vendors are moving on maturity at different paces, and what is not mature today will be mature tomorrow, and what is mature today will be dead tomorrow.”

The question is, however, why customers would uproot themselves from a rival service such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. This was the exact question asked of Mr Abel by a recent customer. Accosted in an elevator, Mr Abel was asked to “sell it to me, I’ve pressed floor 20, I’m in the elevator, why Oracle?”

The answer to that question, indeed the answer to what may prove to be Oracle’s future fortune, is in the fact that Oracle already has a large part of customers’ business – especially data.

Mr Abel told the customer: “All of your data, your key enterprise data, is stored in our technology. If I can connect your innovation with that data, am I worth something to you as a value conversation?”

“We are the only vendor on the planet that has a full portfolio of software as a service (SaaS). I don’t know today what Amazon’s software as a service strategy is; you might think user productivity is a SaaS service, they don’t have an ERP, they don’t have a CRM, they don’t have CX, they don’t have HCM, so they don’t have an offering in that.”

The second reason given to the customer in the elevator was all about optimisation. “We use our own cloud technology for our own development teams, we manage hundreds of thousands of customers on our public cloud, and we manage it with a team that is tiny, so we are highly optimised for the cloud,” said Mr Abel.

READ MORE: Cloud Wars: The murky waters of AWS, Azure & GCP financial results

Given the ubiquity of cybersecurity at this moment in time, it is also an important factor that could influence the choice of customers regarding their allegiance to a cloud provider. Security is not just a pressing issue at present because of the threats themselves, but also because of the stringent regulations coming in on the back of GDPR in May 2018.

“Cybersecurity and the cloud, another customer asked me this only a couple of weeks ago, ‘ok Oracle, is cloud safe?’ Great question, I said the way I always look at it as a security professional, everything on the planet has a risk, you need to qualify the risk, if the risk is greater than the reward, you don’t do the risk, if the risk is lower than the reward, you consider it, if it is a lot lower, you do it,” Mr Abel told CBR.

“If we put our business on the line because of the cloud, then we are going to have the best security,” said Mr Abel

Oracle is making an ambitious play to stand tall against the likes of AWS and Azure – as Mr Abel sold it to CBR: “What Oracle has got is an incredible ability to connect to the enterprise characteristics, and give those characteristics to everyone, a startup, one man band, big massive enterprise, medium size companies, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, we can give you that offering with all the 40 years of heritage.”

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