Oracle prepares to enter PaaS wars

Oracle's platform as a service strategy may take center stage at an event with CEO Larry Ellison next week

By , IDG News Service |  Cloud Computing, Oracle, paas

Ellison and Hurd may also tout Public Cloud's advanced security and system management features as advantages over the competition.

Subscriptions will be available globally but at launch, there will only be data centers in the U.S., according to a FAQ document. Oracle will add centers in Europe and Asia Pacific according to demand, it adds.

Oracle plans to follow common practices in how it charges for the platform services, with pricing slotted into multiple tiers and made "elastic for usage growth and shrinkage."

While Oracle has the technology required to build a credible, enterprise-class PaaS, success in that market really depends on "winning over the hearts and minds of developers," said Geva Perry, author of the Thinking Out Cloud blog and an adviser to cloud computing companies.

To this end, Oracle may make acquisitions in the PaaS space, more to gain developer user bases than technology, Perry added.

In doing this, Oracle would follow a similar path to Salesforce.com, which started out with a homegrown Force.com platform but more recently bought PaaS vendor Heroku, which has many adherents among Ruby developers.

There are a number of Java-centric PaaS vendors that would make likely acquisition targets for Oracle, including CloudBees and CumuLogic.

Still, Oracle isn't necessarily hoping to generate massive amounts of pure PaaS revenue with Public Cloud, instead using it partly as a hedge against competing PaaS offerings who might tempt its user base, according to Perry.

"In the end Oracle is going to try to do what they always do, which is bundle it with other licenses and shove it down the throats of their enterprise customers, who are already locked in," he said. For example, Oracle could throw in a $1 million credit for use with the Public Cloud PaaS when signing a big on-premise database license deal, Perry said.

Oracle is entering the PaaS market at a busy time and will compete with the likes of Microsoft Azure, VMware Cloud Foundry and Amazon Web Services.

But there's room for multiple players in PaaS because the "tipping point" won't arrive until 2016 when more than half of all spending on applications will occur in the cloud, according to analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. Constellation estimates that overall spending on public cloud services will grow from $28.2 billion in 2011 to $80.1 billion in 2016, numbers that include everything from infrastructure to applications, according to Wang.

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