Look out, the big hitter wants to play

Oracle set to enter the PaaS arms race?

Chris Mayer
oracle-cloud

Speculation mounts that Oracle are set become a big player in the PaaS field. But can their option challenge those already competing?

Seeking to put courtroom matters behind them, Oracle look set to announce their cloud strategy going forward next week – with many speculating that they could be about to dip their toe into the Platform-as-a-Service field.

Next Wednesday’s webcast event, featuring CEO Larry Ellison and President Mark Hurd, will detail ‘new developments in Oracle’s cloud strategy and game-changing advances in Oracle Support. ‘Game-changing’ would suggest something big (even though Oracle and others have a tendency to be bombastic about the littlest change) and without wild speculation, a PaaS push makes perfect sense from many angles.

Not only is it a surefire way to quell some of the bad PR gained from the Android trial, but it’s about time Oracle really made a splash in such a hot market at the moment. The tech giant has of course long been top of the tree in the SaaS market, neck and neck with SAP.

Having announced back at October’s OpenWorld the arrival of Public Cloud, it’ll be interested to see the overlap between the SaaS choice with a new PaaS option. Public Cloud comprises a complete suite of more than 100 modules based on its Fusion Applications encompassing components for financial management, human capital management and supply chain management. The HCM Fusion component has already been offered in a preview format, so it’s entirely possible that Ellison and Hurd could set that, and other PaaS components free under a completely new PaaS banner.

In all likelihood, the already-available Java Cloud Service will be the fulcrum of the offering, with Database Cloud Service providing the backbone. Java Cloud Service already allows Java EE developers to create standard-approved applications, plus the ability to link up to third-party frameworks like Spring.

But many might say Oracle have missed the boat here. With Red Hat’s OpenShift enjoying great publicity and uptake, VMware’s in-beta innovative Cloud Foundry gaining community ground and and CloudBees rethinking the format, it might well be too late for Oracle. Not so, if they get it right.

They’ve bided their time over it, waiting to see how the PaaS path has been laid before working out where they will fit in. Oracle has an established customer-base (there’s no denying that) and most would have been reluctant to dip into other offerings when they’ve been loyal to them previously. Whether there’s scope to target newer people outside of deeply corporate backgrounds remains to be seen. You’d assume that vendor lock-in might play a factor too and Oracle would be wise to make big noises about their security and management tools. In fact, Oracle might even swallow up some of the smaller PaaS options out there to gain traction; it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see which Oracle has circled in red pen as possible targets.

Each PaaS offering should rightly hone down onto one key skill which is different from the competition. Oracle should be tackling those completely new to the area, allowing them to bed in with a fairly comprehensible offering. Crucially it should be free from advanced open source tools, which is where other options excel.

But we’re slightly sceptical of how Oracle can make those ‘game-changing’ advances, instead of becoming yet another juggernaut vying for your attention. Looks like we’ll have to wait until Wednesday to find out what is in store. Check back next Thursday for the big reveal.

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