Oracle Puts the Kibosh on Sun’s Cloud, and Everybody Hurts

While most of the technology world was watching Steve Jobs launch the iPad, some (unfortunate) others were listening to Oracle executives lay out the roadmap for the newly approved Oracle-Sun Microsystems behemoth. Most of what they learned was what they already knew, thanks to months of Larry Ellison leaking some plans and presenting others to the European Commission: Oracle will sell integrated hardware-and-software systems, will invest more in MySQL, and will keep most of Sun’s product lines (albeit as a sort of younger brother in many cases).

It wasn’t until the following day (Thursday) that we finally learned Oracle will not be pursuing Sun’s once-much-anticipated public cloud platform. This decision might prove shortsighted on Oracle’s behalf, and it certainly is a setback to cloud openness and interoperability. While others are taking baby steps toward these goals via open APIs and the like, Sun designed its entire cloud around these principles.

While Oracle has positioned itself well for major sales in the short run, the company could be out of luck if the cloud shift happens to the degree many think it will. The company professes a desire to be the IBM of the 1970s, while IBM has its eyes set (at least in part) on the future, with a variety of cloud services, including a rumored IaaS offering. Additionally, Microsoft has Azure (and a close alliance with HP), while the Cisco-VMware-EMC triumvirate seems to have IaaS ambitions, as well. If IaaS becomes profitable on a large scale, Oracle will be the only systems vendor, or collection of vendors, without a cloud play.

By ditching Sun’s volume server business, it’s arguable that Oracle isn’t positioned to sell to cloud-service providers, either – unlike HP, IBM, Dell and Cisco (including with its new NetApp partnership), all of whom target service providers and organizations with web-scale operations. Oracle’s cloud-computing pony appears hitched to the private cloud, which some believe is here to stay, and which others think is too expensive a proposition to catch on.

But it’s not just Oracle that could hurt as a result of its decision to kill the Sun Cloud. Anyone truly concerned about openness and interoperability also might suffer, as Sun designed its cloud around a whole collection of  open components that were supposed to let it tie into into internal systems and, ideally, other clouds. The best cloud users are looking at now might be Cloudkick’s newly announced monitoring and analytics service, which tracks a variety of performance metrics across seven cloud services, or RightScale’s flagship offering, which lets customers manage and launch virtual servers on multiple public clouds via a single dashboard. VMware also is working hard – and successfully – toward its vision of hybrid clouds that can leverage a network of VMware-based public clouds. But choosing from among a pre-defined collection of clouds is not true interoperability of the type toward which Sun appeared to be striving.

There’s no guarantee that Sun could have carried through on its vision, that others would have followed by using its open source components or that it would have been financially successful, but now we’ll never know for sure.

Oracle Puts the Kibosh on Sun’s Cloud, and Everybody Hurts

While the most of the technology world was watching Steve Jobs launch the iPad, some (unfortunate) others were listening to Oracle executives lay out the roadmap for the now-approved Oracle-Sun Microsystems behemoth. Most of what they learned was what they already knew from months of Larry Ellison leaking some plans and presenting others to the European Commission: Oracle will sell integrated hardware+software systems, will invest more in MySQL, and will keep most of Sun’s product lines (albeit as younger brother in many cases).

It wasn’t until Thursday that we finally learned Oracle would not be pursuing Sun’s once-much-anticipated public cloud platform. This decision might prove shortsighted on Oracle’s behalf, and it certainly is a setback to cloud openness and interoperability. Others are taking baby steps toward these goals, but Sun was targeting them with its effort.

While Oracle has positioned itself well for major sales in the short run, the company could be out of luck if the cloud shift happens to the degree many think it will. The company professes a desire to be the IBM of the 1970s, while IBM has its eyes set (at least in part) on the future with a variety of cloud services, including a rumored IaaS offering. Additionally, Microsoft has Azure (and a close alliance with HP), and the Cisco-VMware-EMC triumvirate seems to have IaaS ambitions, as well. If IaaS becomes profitable on a large scale, Oracle will be the only systems vendor, or collection of vendors, without a cloud play. And by ditching Sun’s volume server business, it’s arguable that Oracle isn’t positioned to sell to cloud-service providers, either – unlike HP, IBM, Dell and Cisco (including with its new NetApp partnership), all of whom target service providers and organizations with webscale operations. Oracle’s cloud-computing pony appears hitched to the private cloud, which some believe is here to stay, and which others think is too expensive a proposition to catch on.

Regarding cloud interoperability, the best we’re looking at right now are several API projects and solutions that monitor and manage multiple clouds from a single dashboard. This week, for example, Cloudkick announced its monitoring and analytics service, via which customers can track a variety of performance metrics across seven cloud services. Cloudkick’s product is complementary to RightScale’s flagship offering, which lets customers manage and launch virtual servers across most public clouds. However, neither of these offer true, and seamless, interoperability of data and applications across clouds. VMware is working hard – and successfully – toward its vision of hybrid clouds that can leverage a network of VMware-based public clouds, but choosing between a pre-defined collection is not true interoperability.

It’s true there was no guarantee that Sun could have carried through on its vision – or that others would have followed by using its open source components – but now we’ll never know for sure.

Question of the week

Do you think Oracle will regret its decision to abandon Sun’s cloud plans?
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  1. I think they will regret it and the reason is simple. The ecosystem around public clouds (and the market share) will be a lot bigger than the one around private clouds and a large percentage of the companies (your guess is as good as mine; shall we say 90%) can’t afford private clouds. ^^^If Oracle’s cloud-computing pony is hitched to the private-cloud wagon, then it follows that they will have to change the direction when cloud computing catches on. Then it may prove too late.^^^ Their best bet would be to continue Sun’s public cloud platform. They can afford to put it on a back burner for a while but can’t afford to abandon it.

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  2. I think they will regret it because Oracle is a “big” company and the world of cloud Service Providers is moving sooo fast now that I don’t think Oracle could steer the boat around fast enough to even correct its mistakes in time once it realizes it.

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