Oracle advertises its Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c as a platform for helping “Oracle systems customers adopt cloud computing faster with less effort and risk.”
But the just-released product could serve another purpose for the IT giant: helping fend off increasingly cloud-centric rivals such as IBM, BMC, and Microsoft.
Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c offers centralized management for a variety of Oracle products such as Sun Server Networking, Oracle Solaris, Oracle Virtualization, and Oracle’s SPARC servers. Features include centralized management of an enterprise’s virtualization technologies and cloud lifecycle. Cloud administrators have features such as Automatic Service Requests (ASR) and proactive patch recommendations.
An official quote from Steve Wilson, vice president of Systems and Management for Oracle, summarized the platform as a way for customers to “establish their cloud infrastructure faster, manage it more holistically, and leverage Oracle’s extensive experience to avoid common and costly operational pitfalls.”
Oracle has always insisted on its own approach to the cloud. In September 2010, CEO Larry Ellison introduced the Exalogic Elastic Compute Cloud (also known as “cloud in a box”), which allowed businesses to create their own self-contained cloud platform. Even with Oracle executives talking more about the cloud in recent years, however, the company as a whole has appeared generally reluctant to plunge into the paradigm with the enthusiasm of some of its rivals. Which makes sense, when one considers how much of Oracle’s revenue derives from what’s broadly described as legacy products.
“Oracle is seen more as a legacy company and changing their image to a cloud provider has been even more difficult,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group, wrote in an email. “Ellison looks at Cloud like it is hosting (which it ironically kind of is), but by positioning it that way the company appears to be a couple decades behind market.”
Nor is Oracle’s cloud strategy helped by some of its product branding, he added: “Even the name [Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c] harkens back to an older age of computing. There is no cloud aspect in it, and it reads more like a traditional systems management application.”
But some of Oracle’s top executives argue that the company is maneuvering well to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the cloud. “Our strategy is to give the customer choice,” Oracle president Mark Hurd told CRN in late 2011. “Allow the customer to leverage the cloud or on site and then to mix or match.” The ability to hybridize environments, he said, “is a competitive advantage” in the battle against pure-cloud vendors such as Salesforce.
Oracle isn’t the only massive tech entity wrestling with the best way to embrace the cloud paradigm. For the past few years, Microsoft has engaged in an “all in” cloud strategy, the results of which include products such as Office 365 and Windows Azure. Meanwhile, dedicated cloud firms such as Salesforce and Google continue to earn new clients. This wholesale transition to a new model compels IT customers to consider swapping out legacy infrastructure for subscription-based cloud solutions—including ones from competitors.
“Oracle, like any other software company, is bullish on products such as Enterprise Manager because it keeps the competition from invading their customer base,” Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, wrote in an email, “and creates lock-in with existing customers.”
So far, Oracle has given no indication that it plans to jump into the cloud market with the enthusiasm of some of its rivals. But it will almost certainly continue to integrate cloud functionality into its existing product lines—and in the process, maintain that tension between its legacy business and the changing dynamics of the market.