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Oracle's infrastructure business focuses on bare metal to go after AWS

Blair Hanley Frank | Sept. 21, 2016
The servers are beefy, but can Oracle gain customers and scale?

"Not only do you not need to trust or worry about adjacent contents, you don't need to worry about the provider,” he said. “If there's zero trust, there's less risk.”

One of the key issues that Oracle faces with its infrastructure rollout is scaling it up worldwide. Right now, the infrastructure offerings are live through the company's western U.S. region, based in Phoenix, Arizona. The company is aiming to have its eastern U.S. region running by December or January and expects to expand to two European regions by mid-2017. 

The company seems committed to the infrastructure push, IDC Group Vice President Al Gillen said in an email. But scale will be an issue.

“It is also a long-term commitment that won't be ready for anything beyond test deployments until a second zone becomes available in the U.S. market,” he said.

Gartner's Leong had a different take, saying that scale isn’t as much of an issue for the company as it is a problem with its quality of offering and a current lack of customers.

“Oracle needs to build a compelling feature set, get customers, and then expand data center footprint,” she said.

Oracle seems committed to the hard work of building out its offering, but executives at the company have different takes about the shape that takes. When asked Monday about the company's infrastructure spending, CEO Mark Hurd led with the company’s SaaS business.

“So, if we had a choice strategically, we wanted to nail the SaaS business," Hurd said. "Then the second thing that we wanted to make sure that we got right was the PaaS business. You’ll see more investments into infrastructure, but remember, it’s riding behind the wake of the SaaS and PaaS infrastructure that’s out there.”

Johnson, meanwhile, led with the company’s infrastructure commitment.

“The key foundation of a cloud platform is infrastructure. It’s IaaS,” he said. “It is the fundamental building block that makes everything else possible. [With] all the things that you require up the stack, either the foundational pieces give them to you, or you don’t have them.”

The two perspectives aren't incompatible; after all, those SaaS applications have to run on something. But differing views on Oracle's business have appeared: one a SaaS- and PaaS-first cloud that's building an infrastructure business, and another an infrastructure company using that expertise to operate SaaS and PaaS products. 

It will be worth watching Oracle to see how that tension resolves and how cloud customers and competing providers react to the company's plans. Competitor Amazon is expected to release new high-performance compute instances later this year.


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