Oracle humbly suggests that you try its cloud

Oracle, which was late to cloud, nonetheless has arrived in time for mission-critical apps to make the cloud leap, according to the company’s new top cloud exec Shawn Price. An SAP veteran, Price joined Oracle in October just weeks after the company announced its latest-and-greatest cloud wares.

It takes a lot of work to move serious business apps like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) from on-premises servers to a cloud deployment model. In ERP, “the cloud approach of many [vendors] has not evolved the code to be cloud-based. They put a new UI on it, re-batch it and move it to managed services,” Price told a group of reporters after an OracleWorld customer event in Boston on Tuesday.

Heavy lifting: Moving ERP to cloud

In Price’s view, [company]Oracle[/company], has successfully navigated that transition. But he also seems to know the company has some convincing to do. Oracle, in “all humility,” wants customers to try its cloud, Price said, and rolled its “customer 2 cloud” program to help existing Oracle accounts make the move. “Humility” and “Oracle” are not two words you expect to see in the same sentence, but that is what the cloud revolution has done to legacy enterprise software companies.

Amazon Web Services has been in the public cloud business since 2006 and despite what rivals say, it has lots of business accounts and offers more than base-level IaaS. It is now the cloud that everyone else is measured against, for better or worse.

Oracle’s pitch is that it offers all layers of cloud from base Infrastructure as a Service to Platform (IaaS) to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to Software as a Service (SaaS). And Price said Oracle has pricing options for customers who want to pay as they go, as well as those who want to buy the whole stack from soup to nuts, although that is not the public perception.

While Oracle claims that the use of its engineered hardware plus Oracle Linux plus Oracle middleware, etc., offers a more cost-effective solution than even [company]Amazon[/company], many simply don’t believe it. And some fear that the reliance on a full stack from any one company leaves them too closely shackled to a single vendor with little leverage on pricing or support.

Price acknowledged that fear of lock-in is a factor for customers, but customers can run non-Oracle applications on Oracle’s cloud, and the APIs to all layers of its infrastructure are open and available. On the other hand, Oracle’s mantra is that Oracle stuff runs better-faster-prettier with other Oracle stuff.

Shawn Price, SVP of Oracle Cloud.

Shawn Price, SVP of Oracle Cloud

Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, sees considerable interest among current Oracle shops — and face it, 90 percent or more of enterprises run some Oracle database, apps and/or middleware — in Oracle cloud products.

“Some [customers] focus on getting database into the cloud, others use Oracle for cloud infrastructure, and of course many apps are being brought to the cloud,” he said via email.

Wang acknowledged that Oracle does not yet offer the same easy spin-up-spin-down experience developers love in AWS, but that’s because Oracle delivers more complexity and thus is a bit more complicated to use. And he noted that Oracle’s cloud products are particularly interesting to Java shops.

Can Oracle compete with AWS? Does it need to?

Pricing elasticity is not a concept that most people associate with Oracle — or with any enterprise software company — for that matter. But whatever the case, given the way Oracle’s been hiring, it’s serious about its cloud effort.

Right around the time it brought on Price, it also hired Peter Magnusson, who guided development of [company]Google[/company] App Engine before joining Snapchat as VP of engineering. Magnusson is now Oracle’s SVP of engineering. And last month Oracle hired Mark Cavage, Joyent’s well-regarded VP of engineering who is now senior director and architect of engineering for Oracle’s public cloud.

What’s interesting here is that while Amazon execs at AWS Re:Invent last month said that most workloads are ready and primed to move to cloud, the legacy IT players — [company]IBM[/company], Oracle, [company]SAP[/company] — paint a picture of a slower, more conservative migration path for companies with existing IT infrastructure. Unlike startups without a lot of existing gear, they are not hell-bent on putting mission critical workloads into the cloud. Yet.

But that’s a matter of time, Price said. Asked if there were any workloads that he did not see destined for cloud, his answer: “No.”