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 Chuck Schaeffer Will Oracle's Exalogic Elastic Cloud Reduce Costs and Complexity?

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 By Chuck Schaeffer

Can the Cloud Be Delivered From a Box?

It's not every day hardware enters the CRM software discussion, particularly with cloud solutions which position customers a step away from IT infrastructure. But when CRM software kingpins such as Oracle's Larry Ellison, Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff and NetSuite's Zach Nelson make it an on stage talking point at their biggest annual events, it raises the buzz meter to full tilt.

The hardware being discussed is Oracle's Exalogic Elastic Cloud—a proposed cloud in a box architecture that morphs Oracle's hardware, software and database products to provide enterprises with a highly engineered solution for a secure, mission-critical private cloud capable of virtually unlimited scale, unbeatable performance, and management simplicity. In fact, Oracle claims that just two Exalogic machines could "handle all the http requests for Facebook."

Exalogic isn't just for mega apps. It's positioned as an infrastructure appliance for all types and sizes of applications, from small departmental line of business apps to large mission critical CRM and ERP systems. Exalogic can host CRM on Demand, Siebel CRM or the upcoming Oracle Fusion Applications. The solution is optimized for enterprise Java, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle's Fusion Applications, however, it also supports thousands of third-party and custom Linux and Solaris apps.

Banter within the CRM landscape started from Oracle OpenWorld when Ellison claimed that Salesforce.com was simply rebranding ten year old software-as-a-service (SaaS) as more modern cloud technology. He reinforced his assertion with his definition of cloud computing: "The cloud is a standards-based application, development and execution platform that includes hardware and software, is virtualized and elastic, and runs many apps," stated Ellison, who also noted "It can run on both public and private clouds."

And according to his definition, he asserts that Salesforce.com is merely SaaS and not cloud. To illustrate real cloud, Ellison points to Amazon's Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2), which runs any app, is virtual, is elastic and you only pay for what you use. "Salesforce.com is merely one or two apps running over the Internet. It isn't virtualized, is proprietary and has weak security," lamented Ellison. He went on to suggest that rather than dump all customer data into a single database as Salesforce does, customers achieve better security and fault tolerance protection through isolation via virtualization.

Ellison offers the Exalogic Elastic Cloud as a cloud-in-a-box solution for organizations seeking to implement private or hybrid cloud solutions as well as to providers of public cloud services. Oracle points to Exalogic adoption by cloud vendors such as NetSuite—Oracle's mini-me, but also one of the largest pure play leaders in the cloud apps industry.

Is there more to Exalogic than a lofty vision associated with yet another super server release? I suspect so. The challenges associated with integrating apps and platform as well as apps with other apps are legendary. Anything to reduce this laborious and expensive task is welcome news for most CIOs. Another key constraint for cloud solutions is a lack of portability. CRM systems such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite and others only run on their own private clouds. Customers have no means to move their applications, or perhaps the custom developed extensions and add-ons they created with their vendors' platform as a service (PaaS) tools, to a different or more neutral cloud. Microsoft is beginning to address this constraint with Azure, however, it's still early for them.

Ellison has his most strategic competitive sights set on both IBM and SAP, and interestingly, the Exalogic Elastic Cloud may provide a frontal assault on both of them. IBM is noticeably late with a similar cloud solution, although its acquisition of appliance vendor Netezza may emerge as an Exalogic competitor. Expect increased pressure on SAP to result in some type of partnership solution. End

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Comments (6) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Chris Nichols
  Customers have always been uneasy about purchasing too much software from a single vendor for fear of lock-in. Now in addition to an all Oracle platform, middleware and application stack Oracle is providing the hardware. This may increase that customer concern.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Perhaps. However, that concern while valid must be balanced with the alternative of multiple vendor solutions—and the costs and complexities therein. Managing multiple vendor relationships and keeping abreast of annual maintenance agreements, product upgrades, roadmaps, pricing announcements and the like takes a lot of time. More so, enterprise software integration costs can easily outweigh the application software costs. Integration is complex business and also has a way of securing vendor lock-in of its own, although to the integrators, not the software publisher. Oracle's strategy to reduce complexity, accelerate time to value and lower costs with an Oracle configured, integrated and optimized infrastructure will avoid customers having to cobble together application and platform software as well as multiple application vendor solutions. It's not a panacea, but there is clearly a compelling argument.

Guest Rob Chapman
  We use Salesforce.com which I thought was a cloud solution, but I tend to agree with Larry Ellisons cloud definition so maybe its more marketing hype than substance. I see Oracle really shaking things up with virtualization over multi-tenancy.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    I wouldn't get to deep with varying definitions of cloud computing. Technology is an important enabler so material differences are meaningful. Oracle proposes virtualization where Salesforce.com evangelizes multi-tenant applications. The concepts are not mutually exclusive and they both have advantages and disadvantages. Rather than wrestle with just the technical merits, I would suggest examining the benefits. Which architecture results in a vendor solution that most reduces costs (which are then passed on to customers), increases innovation (frequency of meaningful software advancements and upgrades) and permits maximum customer flexibility? These questions will be answered over time and may suggest which architecture is superior for many situations.

Guest Corrie Armstrong
  Is Exalogic a product risen from the Sun acquisition? Did Oracle change the internal physical make-up?
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Yes and no. The integrated hardware/software appliance bears both the Oracle and Sun logos on the faceplate. Exalogic is constructed of Intel, Oracle Enterprise Linux and InfiniBand. It will support Solaris when Solaris 11 Express becomes available and it also supports non-Oracle Linux software however loses much of the performance optimization. It accommodates up to 60 processors, 360 cores, 28TB DRAM of flash memory and 40 TB of disk storage. Check out the Oracle website for more specs.
 

 

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Salesforce.com is merely one or two apps running over the Internet. It isn't virtualized, is proprietary and has weak security."

~ Larry Ellison

 

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