Simon Haslam's Oracle Fusion Middleware blog

Announcement of "Oracle Cloud at Customer" service at Oracle CloudWorld

Today in Washington DC, USA, Oracle formally announced what it calls the "Oracle Cloud at Customer" service which, from my understanding, is a new term for the combination of Oracle hardware running in your data centre (see Oracle's Public Cloud Machine - initial thoughts and speculation), the Oracle public cloud software running on this hardware, and remote management by Oracle.

Note that, seemingly as of today, the new hardware is called the Oracle Cloud Machine (it was formerly known as "Oracle Public Cloud Machine" and "Oracle Private Cloud Machine for PaaS & IaaS"), abbreviated to OCM (no doubt to the chagrin of Oracle Certified Masters!).

Oracle had its top brass out today, with Thomas Kurian providing the primary keynote:

Thomas Kurian - keynote at Oracle CloudWorld

Very interestingly Oracle is clearly steering the conversation away from hardware altogether - there was very little mention of specifications and nothing about performance (which we usually hear for Engineered Systems) - this launch was primarily centred on flexibility of service provision.

Oracle Cloud Behind Your Firewall 

Firstly let's recap what, in a nutshell, Oracle Cloud (PaaS & IaaS) offers:

  • a subscription / pay as you go licensing model,
  • simplified provisioning and management using a high degree of automation,
  • scalability with the ability to provision and scale up without needing hardware procurement/provisioning,
  • standardised, pre-designed architecture and configurations,
  • an underlying platform entirely managed & monitored by Oracle.

The Oracle Cloud Machine, in addition to the above, offers:

  • low latency to other systems running on your premises,
  • a location in your own data centre, behind your own firewall.

Let's look at those two characteristics more closely. With low latency I can see these clear benefits for OCM:

  • If you run applications that interact heavily with existing systems that will stay on your premises for some time (I'm thinking about mature EBS or SAP systems, mainframes, large data warehouses) with OCM you will be able to migrate these applications to Oracle Cloud, such as JCS, more safely (not dissimilar from carrying out a hardware refresh).
  • If you have applications and databases which you may want to migrate eventually to Oracle (public) Cloud, but can't (shouldn't) do that all in one migration, then you could firstly, say, migrate some applications to OCM and then gradually migrate your databases - thus always keeping very fast connectivity between the tiers. Once all your environments run on OCM then it becomes a less challenging/less risky task to migrate them all to the public cloud should you wish.

If we now think about the benefits from being "in your own data centre, behind your firewall":

  • Data residence and sovereignty: this seems unambiguous - the data is where your data centre is (assuming you back it up to a location you directly control too).
  • Behind your firewall is certainly true but, unlike the interviews at OpenWorld, today there was no mention of anyone but Oracle operating the infrastructure. Amit Zavery even said it would "make your data centre an integrated part of Oracle's cloud." In this respect running Oracle Cloud in your own data centre seems to have little benefit since, apparently, you have no direct control over who within Oracle has access to the infrastructure, and so your applications and data. I think that could present a dilemma for banks in particular.

By the way, I know there's an argument that if all data is encrypted in flight and at rest then even an administrator can't access it but ultimately the applications have to be able access the data and so present a weakness - if the rewards are high enough virtually anything is possible.

Sizing

We were told that the OCM will come in 3 sizes:

OCM Sizes 

Exalogic aficionados will recognise those numbers of cores as corresponding to the 8, 16 and 30 compute nodes for a 1/4, 1/2 and full Exalogic X5-2 rack, though twice the HDD (I'm guessing due to the new 8TB disks we're seeing in the ODA and ZFS recently). Those with very good eyesight might even have noticed "Public" on the rack door! I think the mention of Cisco (not Sun) 10GbE switches suggests that there's no InfiniBand in the machine. There was no mention yet as to where storage for DBCS is going to come from - I suppose we'll have to wait a little longer for that.

Pricing

One key point that Thomas Kurian made was that the price for Oracle PaaS (giving the examples of JCS and DBCS) would be exactly the same for using it on OCM as using it on Oracle (public) Cloud. Unless I misunderstood this sounds as though there's no up-front hardware cost. Clearly you don't get anything for nothing - for comparison the list price for an Exalogic quarter rack $370k for the hardware alone, so this is the kind of asset value your OCM subscription will have to fund. This slide, and Oracle's Karen Sigman in one of the interviews, suggests that there's a 3 year minimum term so I presume this will also have a minimum contract amount (depending on the size of OCM chosen).

OCM - Available Now

Other Interesting Snippets

Although I have focussed on the OCM in this post, I noticed some other interesting announcements in Thomas Kurian's presentation, in particular:

  • Mentions of what sounded like real virtual networking and VPN access - I'd have to check the video again as it may have been specific to dedicated compute only (i.e. as announced last OOW) - if it were more general then that would be a very significant enhancement.
  • Easy creation and management of VM images on IaaS.
  • New tooling for orchestration across multiple VMs, including rules for auto scaling.
  • Replication of storage instances across Oracle data centres.

Summary

My opinions about the Oracle Cloud Machine haven't really changed from what I wrote previously: I think it offers a very interesting option for those wanting to run Oracle platforms with a cloud-like experience (e.g. ease of use and pricing) but within their own data centre. I'm not sure how remote management by Oracle will sit with some customers, but maybe those kinds of customers already have advanced automation and monitoring so will have less to gain from an OCM anyway. As yet I don't think OCM makes any of Oracle's existing Engineered Systems redundant, but I will be very interested to see what happens next for Exalogic in particular.

There is now more information about OCM on Oracle's website, including a datasheet - so plenty more to read & blog about another day.

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