I attended the Oracle Innovation Forum in Toronto on Nov. 6,  a full day seminar billed as an opportunity to “see innovation in practice.”  There were two keynotes and three parallel presenter tracks:

  • Track 1:  Pathway to your cloud
  • Track 2:  Transform the enterprise:  Simplify. differentiate. Innovate
  • Track 3:  The modern data center

The basic question (from the website) being posed was:  Cloud. Mobile. Social. Big data. The Internet of Things. The latest buzzwords, or powerful global forces?

I attended the keynotes and Track 1.

In the keynote speech Eddie Shain, an Oracle group vice-president, spoke about “Innovation in Practice.”  He noted that IT is complex and can be a barrier to company growth, but in reality it should be an enabler of the business.  The areas of current innovation are:  social, mobile, big data, cloud (also called SMAC), and Internet of Things.

He discussed two approaches – entrepreneurial and pragmatic – and suggested that either one or both can be used by an enterprise.  Three major challenges are integration, optimization and maintenance, with much of today’s resources being consumed by maintenance.  The Oracle strategy, Shain said, included an Integrated Technology Stack that is:

  • Engineered to work together
  • Best in class products
  • Cloud-oriented
  • Best in breed across multiple industries

The first presentation covered Oracle’s cloud computing strategy.  After describing the basic types and uses of clouds, the speaker described a roadmap for cloud evolution:  traditional silos –> consolidation   –> private cloud –> public cloud –> hybrid cloud.  Three areas where Oracle products fit are:

a)    Oracle Cloud Applications:  fit for purpose applications that are scalable and standards-based

b)    Oracle Cloud Platforms: database, SOA and BPM suites, data integration, IAM and WebCenter user engagement

c)    Oracle Cloud Infrastructure:  Solaris and Linux, Zones and VM, Sun Servers, storage and networking

d)    Enterprise Manager

Other presentations introduced Oracle Database 12c, Oracle Engineered Systems (Exadata, Exalogic and SPARC SuperCluster) and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c.

Of particular interest was the discussion of a new multi-tenant database architecture that is being introduced with the Oracle Database 12c release.  The concept is to have a common multi-tenant container database (CDB) with “pluggable databases”  for each tenant.  This results in considerable savings both in resources and also in management and maintenance.  Multi-tenant databases are also desirable for implementing cloud-based solutions.  The combination of Weblogic 12c with Database 12c is intended for availability, multi-tenancy and scalability, all of which are cloud characteristics.

The Enterprise Manager 12c is also of interest from a cloud perspective as it provides a unified cloud framework.  This product is said to provide “complete cloud lifecycle management” including cross-stack management.  For example, there are 125+ plug-ins for non-Oracle targets (such as Amazon Web Services).

The steps needed to deliver cloud-based self-service IT are:

  • Plan and set-up a cloud
  • Build, test, and deploy applications in the cloud
  • Manage and monitor the cloud stack
  • Meter, charge and optimize the use of the cloud

Other presentations discussed Oracle Engineered Systems for Cloud Computing, Oracle Managed cloud services and Cloud Integration and Security.

Another presentation also offered an answer to “what’s driving the cloud?’

  • Globalization – the Internet saturation is growing eight per cent a year
  • Data Explosion – a 4,300 per cent data generation increase by 2020
  • Rise of mobility – smartphone shipments will exceed 1B by 2016
  • Social is Business – for example, more than 13 million business pages on Facebook
  • Modernize to Survive – productivity costs more with older systems

It was also suggested that there will be many new “as a Service” offerings, including such things as:

  • Java as a Service
  • BI as a Service
  • Development as a Service
  • Mobile as a Service
  • Database as a Service
  • Documents as a Service

Oracle now has 13 data centers providing products “as a Service” with more than 9 million users and 19 billion transactions a day.

The last presentation I attended was about cloud security and compliance, which is always an major consideration for enterprise systems.  A number of statistics about the cost of security were presented – for example, 14 per cent of the IT budget is spent on security, and the average cost of security per employee is $400 to $500.  Security involves a combination of managing the risks, preventing the threats and then unlocking the opportunities resulting from a more secure environment.   Oracle provides security at each layer of the stack, between each of the layers, and between systems.

According to Oracle’s research, the top five security concerns are:

  • access control and identity management
  • data access from mobile devices
  • ongoing compliance concerns
  • co-mingling of customer data
  • security standards and certifications

So, what did I take away from the seminar?

  1. Oracle is clearly moving strongly to embrace cloud, both by becoming a cloud service provider and also by updating multiple products for use in cloud solutions.
  2. Oracle has current products across all levels of the cloud stack.
  3. A new period of competition, collaboration and coopetition is emerging among producers and suppliers as everyone tries to carve a niche in the cloud ecosystem.
  4. It is not clear that a single gorilla will emerge for cloud computing (as there once was for chips, desktop operating systems and network switches) and, in fact, cloud computing crosses a variety of market segments.
  5. There is a danger that a new set of “cloud silos” will exist with different providers specializing in particular services, thereby requiring an ability to build solutions that span multiple clouds (e.g., a solution using a combination of a user/web portal cloud, a compute cloud, a database cloud and a security cloud).
  6. Cloud computing is not yet a mature technology and, while there is enormous potential, there is a “trough of disillusionment” that has yet to emerge in any significant way.
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