by Tom Kranz

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Ready, Shoot, Aim...

    Cloud computing is 90% hype now... but then so are web services like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. No one talks about a "killer app" anymore -- cuz now we have "killer platforms"...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    sceptic (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    Parallel computers

    The hype surrounding "the cloud" is pretty transparent to any IT guy worth his salt, but some good could still come out of the idea. I am looking forward to a mainstream OS that can span many dissimilar physical machines and function as a single unit allocating resources as needed to any particular virtual environment. I do not believe that currently the physical redundancy and ease of growth of such a system is affordable for small and mid-size businesses in an on premise solution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Ed Dixon (Icoda), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 5:28am

    Hype but....

    Oracle, IBM, VMware, Microsoft et al are betting the house on it!

    Why? Because when something has been around for years but has huge barriers to adoption (outsourcing) only the brave customers take the risk for the reward!

    Cloud is outsourcing but now we have enabling technologies such as virtualization which facilitates the vision for IaaS and mature providers of SaaS only support the case for buying a service as an operational cost rather than the ongoing capex outlay?

    This is an enterpise play and next time a CIO/CFO look at a major refresh they will look at cloud/outsourcing as an option - an it will be the 80% up for grabs with the 20% remaining in the data centre.

    Larry is just saying... yeah I told you so, yeah we're jumping on the hype bandwagon... but we don't do cloud!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Michael F. Martin, Mar 26th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    It was a serious question

    Larry owns most of the cloud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Michael F. Martin, Mar 26th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    It was a serious question

    Larry owns most of the cloud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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