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Don Burleson Blog 







Inside Oracle cloud Computing

Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonOctober 6,  2015

Also see our Oracle Cloud Cloud consulting support.

Cloud computing has been touted as a radical 'paradigm shift', where IT power is delivered to an application over the internet as you need it, rather than drawn from a centralized server.

What they don't want you to know is that cloud computing is a new name for a feature that's almost half a century old! Back in the olden-days of data processing, customers rented all of the resources they needed, software, disk, CPU and RAM, all under the umbrella of a MVS mainframe, and they were billed according to their actual usage.

Oracle cloud computing in plain English

These cloud computing announcements in the media are complete nonsense, and the idea of 'cloud computing' is nothing new. Back in the 1980's, companies regularly rented usage of mainframe computers to third parties, and the mechanisms for apportioning shared computing resources have been around for almost half a century.

Because computing resources depreciate regardless of use, part of the job of a data processing manager in the 1970's was ensuring that their multi-million dollar mainframe was kept as busy as possible. Lost cycle meant lost revenues, and it was common for other companies to purchase computing cycles as-needed, just like today's cloud computing.

Things have not changed. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, "When people talk about cloud computing, they're talking just about taking some stuff, putting it outside the firewall, and perhaps putting it on servers that are also shared or storage systems."

Since the 1970's, 'cloud computing' has been known by a host of other names, including server sharing, client-server computing, ASP and 'software as a service'. But just because cloud computing is an old idea does not mean that it does not make sense. In fact, Larry Ellison was a pioneer in personal cloud computing, back in the 1990's.

Every cloud has silver lining

For personal applications, Larry Ellison pioneered this idea many years ahead if it's time when he introduced an 'Internet Appliance' back in the 1990's. Ellison's vision was that the PC of the future was nothing more than a Java-enabled web browser and that all of the disk, CPU and RAM were somewhere in cyberspace where it could be easily managed and controlled. Nothing wrong with that, cloud computing makes sense for non-confidential, non-critical data.

Back in the 1970's we called these 'dumb terminals', the tried-and-true 3270's.
Imagine the world of personal cloud computing. Your 'PC' needs nothing but a browser, no software installations, no blue screens of death, just instant access to spreadsheets and documents, all managed and controlled in the cloud. That's 'real' cloud computing. It' amazing that these large companies believe that cloud computing will ever be adopted for sensitive or mission-critical data.

However, personal cloud computing is not the nonsense that we are seeing from Google, Microsoft and Amazon with their bizarre 'cloud computing' initiatives. While web 2.0 has people storing photographs and personal e-mail and Word documents on web servers, it's a giant leap into insanity for corporations to move their mission-critical data into the wild world of cyberspace.

Clouding the waters

At Oracle OpenWorld 2015, Larry Ellison called these cloud computing initiatives "fashion-driven" and "complete gibberish". However, Oracle also announced that customers could run some Oracle products within Amazon's cloud platform, and there are also rumors that Oracle and Intel are working on a cloud computing initiative. I expect that if such an initiative were announced by Oracle it would not embrace moving corporate data out of house. Oracle tried this approach with their ASP offerings years ago, and customers did not want to lose physical control over their data.

Will the major vendors learn from their ASP fiascos? Evidently not. IBM is building a giant cloud computing center in China and Oracle is currently constructing a 200,000-square-foot data center in West Jordan Utah.

You don't have to be a psychic to see that this is a very chancy gamble, especially since many of Oracle's best customers are data-driven companies whose existence depends on their ability to manage their own information.

Keeping your head in the clouds

As someone who has been a database administrator for more than 25 years, I have found that it is absolutely imperative that a corporation keep all of their applications in-house, and it's insanity to use cloud computing until such time as the Internet becomes completely secure (that would be 'never').

Let's consider the rationale behind cloud computing:

  • Cloud computing means more efficient resource usage - While cloud computing delivers processing power on-demand, we forget that disk has become so cheap that it's a commodity. And don't forget that an industrial-strength server can now be had for under $10k.
  • Cloud computing means better management and control - While it may be true that web-based cloud server environments may use IT best practices, there is no guarantee, and today's mirrored disk environments make the possibility of losing data very small.
  • Cloud computing saves you money - While it true that you can "rent" a Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Application Server for short durations, it remains to be seen if these saving will be meaningful to large shops. 

Corporations aside, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are pushing forward their plans to deliver information and software over the net. This makes sense from a vendor's perspective since they have complete control over licensing. It's estimated that software companies lose ten of billions of dollars a year in lost software licensing revenues, so cloud computing makes sense for them, but NOT for their customers.

At the end of the day, it remains to be seen whether Oracle cloud computing will be as quickly forgotten as the Oracle8 Oracle Universal Server, or if Oracle cloud computing will become mainstream.



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