Oracle goes all in with OpenStack

Oracle took baby steps toward OpenStack earlier this year but now it’s going all in.

The company announced this morning a long list of new OpenStack integrations. Oracle said it plans to integrate “OpenStack cloud management components” into Solaris, Oracle Linux, Oracle VM, Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance, its IaaS, Oracle ZS3 Series, Axiom storage and StorageTek products. It’s also planning to make its storage cloud service compatible with OpenStack.

oracle plane_0.jpgImage credit: Flickr/Armchair Aviator

“This integration is intended to enable customers to use OpenStack to manage Oracle technology-based clouds, taking full advantage of the stability, efficiency, performance, scalability and security of these Oracle products,” Oracle wrote in its release.

Oracle joins other big traditional enterprise vendors like HP, IBM and Red Hat in supporting OpenStack.

Jumping on board at this stage, when OpenStack is far from mature but has been backed by the other big names for some time now, makes me wonder about Oracle’s motivation. There’s been lots of talk recently about OpenStack’s struggle to entice the enterprise market, so it seems unlikely that Oracle’s customers are demanding that it support OpenStack.

More likely is that Oracle is still struggling, along with its peers, to try to take advantage of the shift to the cloud. Or at least it knows it has to capitalize on the cloud or it’s going to lose market share. Oracle databases aren’t exactly synonymous with cloud so the company has some work to do to position itself as a software provider to consider among cloud users.

However, Solaris customers in particular might be interested in this move, said Michael Cote, analyst at 451 Research. “If Oracle can bring OpenStack into the Solaris world, it could help those customers out,” he said. A more cloud-oriented Solaris could be attractive to Solaris fans, he said.

Oracle dipped its toe into the OpenStack world earlier this year when it announced that it would integrate OpenStack with Nimbula, its cloud software, as well as Exaclogic, its server hardware. At the time, I noted that Oracle hardware and software tends to be on the expensive end of the spectrum -- not typically what people reach for when building clouds. Yet, there are surely plenty of enterprises that are married to Oracle software and would be happy to stick with it. Making Oracle products more cloud-ready could help these enterprises move to the cloud.

Enterprises are increasingly interested in building private clouds and so it makes sense that Oracle would make moves to help them do so, Cote said. While enterprises are price sensitive, many also want to be able to build clouds without having to dramatically staff up. If Oracle can package its hardware and software – some of which customers are already familiar with – into a reliable cloud-ready package, it’s sure to appeal to those customers, Cote said.

He also pointed out that it’s worth noting the exact wording that Oracle used in its announcement. It says Oracle is building in OpenStack “compatibility.” That implies Oracle will retain a healthy layer of proprietary technology which it will use to differentiate its offering and explain the premium it charges.

It will be interesting to see how much Oracle contributes back to the OpenStack community. So far, at least according to the Stackalytics data on OpenStack contributors, Oracle doesn’t show up at all as a contributor to the open source effort.

Oracle has a mixed track record in the open source world, so it remains to be seen what kind of reputation it will have in the OpenStack world, Cote said.

I expect to talk to a few people today for more opinions on this new entrant to the market and will update accordingly.

UPDATE: This story has been updated throughout to add comments from Michael Cote.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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