Oracle’s hitting the Cloud with Amazon cautiously hailed by Canadian customer

The new cloud-based database offerings announced by Oracle Corp. this week are cost-saving and worth pursuing if the service proves to be secure and provide good performance, according to a Canadian Oracle database customer.

The world’s largest enterprise software company announced a partnership with Amazon from its Openworld conference in San Francisco on Monday.

Oracle management discuss the company’s new cloud computing strategy for its database software.

Amazon’s EC2 environment allows organizations to rent out storage and processing power that’s delivered over the Web. Now Oracle is delivering several products through Amazon – Database 11g, Fusion Middleware, and Enterprise Manager.

Oracle traditionally has been delivering its software mainly through on-premise licenses and more recently, as a hosted service. The new cloud-based approach received a cautious endorsement from one database customer – Frank Blues, asset manager for the City of Prince George, B.C.

“If there’s a way to reduce cost and you’re getting the delivery of the service that you’re expecting and it’s secure and time responsive, why not?,” he says.

For the company that is already the market leader in database warehousing, with a share nearing 50 per cent, it’s just one more environment to offer up to customers.

Oracle acknowledges that many companies won’t feel comfortable relying on the cloud for running applications critical to their business just yet. But they are banking on a slow and sure transition.

“People will try it out first,” says Chuck Rozwat, executive vice-president of product development at Oracle. “Once they feel very comfortable with it, then they’ll move ahead.”

Amazon has become very good at managing IT and is able offer storage and processing at very low cost, says Mark Townsend, vice-president product management at Oracle. It’s just a symptom of the way the famous Web retailer does business – with an IT cost being the only overhead driving up prices.

“Amazon is not in the business of selling books, people don’t understand that,” he says. “Amazon is in the business of selling you something for the lowest possible cost.”

The focus was to allow customers to save money by using Amazon’s cost-per-usage model of computing, Rozwat says. Early adopters of the service will be using it mainly to provide a testing and development environment, and as a data backup tool.

The Oracle Secure Backup Cloud Module works much like the company’s tape and disc backup management software. But instead of diverting data to live on tape or disc, it goes to rest on Amazon’s service. The interface will be familiar to Oracle users and also provide an encryption ability to ensure data security.

“Our goal was to use the cloud in an easy-to-get-started sort of way,” Rozwat says.

Renting out an Oracle application on an Amazon Machine Image through the cloud would help companies avoid up-front capital costs of bringing new hardware online. It would also be a zero-maintenance system, meaning no in-house IT staff is required to help run the applications.

That sounds ideal for a smaller organization to Prince George’s Blues.

“I can see Web services being scalable to people at a relatively small organization that doesn’t have the resources to do all the maintenance and manage it themselves,” he says. “It sounds very good for agencies that just don’t have the in-house capabilities.”

But for now Oracle is focusing on its traditional enterprise clients for using the service, according to Rozwat. An example customer might be an organization going through a testing cycle and looking to rent out some additional computing resources to help with the workload.

The software company’s plans for delivering software through the cloud have only just begun. Amazon may be the first partner that Oracle has announced working with on delivering its products in this way, but it won’t be the last.

“We’re working with some cloud providers,” Townsend says. “It’s just that the best-known one is Amazon.”

More announcements about other cloud partners will be made by Oracle soon, Rozwat adds.

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