Larry Ellison: What Am I Missing About Cloud?
from the partly-cloudy dept
Things have been settling down a bit since the rush of information from Oracle after their takeover of Sun Microsystems was approved. The webcast was a marathon event, and it contained a lot of useful (and re-assuring) information for those of us who deal with Sun on a daily basis.
As usual, Larry Ellison’s keynote speech was the highlight of the event. Mad Larry is one of the few CEOs left in IT who feels powerful or comfortable enough in his position to speak his mind — and then to push hard to deliver his vision. Scott McNealy was another — it’s a mindset that’s usually seen in small, feisty startups, and rarely survives that initial growth spurt into global IT giant.
Apart from accusing the SAP guys of being mentally unstable, a key point from the speech was Larry’s attitude to Cloud Computing. Oracle has famously rubbished the concept for a number of years, and Larry took the opportunity to once again speak out.
At its core, Cloud Computing is essentially outsourcing — the old cost cutting measure we’ve known and loved for over 20 years. Facilities Management, Outsourcing, Cloud Computing — it’s essentially the same thing. All that is old shall become new again.
Larry quite rightly pointed out that Oracle has been doing this sort of thing for years. In fact everyone has — it’s not a new concept at all. The hype machine has been in full swing, though, at a level that’s not been seen since 2001 and the first dot-com boom. What irks Larry most, I suspect, is that he didn’t coin the phrase, and this is a hype train that he’s not driving. With Oracle’s history with networking computing and databases as appliances, it’s clear where his annoyance comes from — he’s been beating this particular drum for over a decade, and now Oracle are getting stick from analysts for not having their own Cloud Computing strategy.
In part, the hype around Cloud Computing is understandable — infrastructure can be expensive, good technologists definitely are very expensive, and bandwidth and x86 servers are not only cheap, they’re now commodities. It’s easy to sign up, slap some code out there, and see if it grows. We’ll worry about revenue later — let’s get something live.
Cloud Computing has the danger of becoming a heady mix of both dot-com bubble thinking, and poorly thought-out outsourcing deals. The ease with which you can get infrastructure provisioned is overshadowing the very real dangers that come with weak SLAs, poor performance profiling, non-existent data migration, lack of management oversight — all the problems that have plagued every outsourcing deal since the first CFO looked at IT and proclaimed: “These guys are a cost centre.”
When Larry asked ‘What am I missing about Cloud?’ — he was referring to the escalating hype about an old technology. The question, though, is a serious one that everyone should be asking before they get too seduced by the low costs and easy provisioning of Cloud Computing.