Oracle executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison kicked off the first keynote of Oracle OpenWorld 2016 in San Francisco today by declaring his company is "aggressively moving into infrastructure", announcing a "new generation of data centres around the world" and pledging cheaper and faster IaaS (infrastructure as a service) than Amazon's AWS services.
Ellison began his address by painting a general picture of Oracle's cloud strategy.
"What do we think customers want? How do we win at SaaS? It's the same thing," said Ellison.
"If we can figure out what customers want and deliver that, customers are going to buy our stuff. And we think what they want are complete and integrated suites of products - not one-off products. Customers don't want to have to integrate 50 different products from 50 different vendors - it's simply too hard.
"In the platform (PaaS), compatibility yielding portability we think is very important. Preserving your existing investment in database and making it easier for you to move that database to the cloud," Ellison continued.
He said this gives customers the resources to develop "all new cloud-centric applications too", as well as the ability to "lift and shift" anything they like.
Also in PaaS, the "cloud extension" of purchasing subscription-based hardware came high on Ellison's agenda. With "identical software and identical hardware" depending on whether subscribing for hardware or running purely in the cloud, Ellison made the whole proposition sound like an easily interchangeable setup.
But IaaS - which Ellison said Oracle is "pioneering" - seemed to be the CTO's main focus today. He said "people would like it as a commodity - just like electricity. Basic computing, and basic commodity."
"Cost is important," he continued, "because it's not that differentiated, but we think this is more differentiated due to all the security around the infrastructure and the reliability - people pay a lot of attention to cost, and we have to be lower cost and higher performance at the same time."
To ram home his point, Ellison showed a slide show how Oracle can offer more cores, D-RAM and SSD storage than Amazon, all for a lower price than AWS.
"Compatibility and portability are the choices we offer you," he continued, confirming that Oracle's cloud will run on AWS, Microsoft Azure or "anywhere you want to take it, pretty much".
He then took pop at AWS' Redshift.
"You should only run their database in Amazon," he said. "If you try to run their database someplace else, it just wouldn't work.
"But Redshift's open source. No it's not! Redshift is developed by Amazon, only runs in Amazon, once you're moved in, you can't ever move Redshift out," he said.
He went on to describe how it was "cheap to move the data in, but very expensive to move it out".
"Some people would call that the ultimate lock-in."
AWS wasn't the only target of Ellison's scorn.
"We have a huge advantage over Workday in that we've been in this ERP business for a very, very long time, with a lot of domain expertise," he said.
Ellison argued that Workday's insistence on "building their own platform, their own business, their own programming environment" is "very hard to do" unless you're "someone like Microsoft" or Oracle ("we have 5,000 developers just writing our horizontal SaaS applications"), but for Workday to take it on "is an enormous challenge".
"We don't think it's possible for them to do their own platform, or their own applications," he said.
Ellison finished by running through new developments in Oracle products and services such as 12c ("for cloud!") and Customer 2 Cloud cloud adoption scheme, but we'll cover those in more detail as the technical keynotes unfold in coming days.
With Oracle's cloud revenues still looking comparatively disappointing in last week's Q1 2017 results, it's not surprising cloud is still the big push this year. What's a little more surprising, however, is why the company is focusing on IaaS rather than something it's a little more suited to, such as PaaS, with which it could perhaps more easily leverage its existing database services.
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