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SYS-CON MEDIA: Interview

An Exclusive Interview with Oracle, Cloud Expo 2010 Diamond Sponsor

There are compelling reasons for large and medium-sized enterprises to be interested in cloud computing, says Sarwal

Oracle Keynote at Cloud Expo

"We believe that cloud is an important trend that we will support. We have two objectives. The first is to ensure that cloud computing is fully enterprise grade, meaning high performance, scalability, reliability, availability, security and standards-based for portability and interoperability. Second, we will support both public and private cloud computing in order to give customers choice," says Richard Sarwal, SVP Product Development for Oracle Enterprise Manager - and upcoming Keynote Speaker at SYS-CON's 5th International Cloud Computing Expo - in this Exclusive Q&A with Cloud Computing Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan.

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Cloud Computing Journal: Oracle played a pioneering role in making Grid Computing relevant to enterprises - I'm thinking of Oracle Real Applications Clusters (RAC), Automatic Storage Management (ASM), and Storage Grid, products like that. How are your infrastructure offerings being extended to embrace the Cloud?

Richard Sarwal: Oracle pioneered Grid Computing more than five years ago with RAC, ASM and Enterprise Manager Grid Control. We continue to enhance and refine those products, and they are still differentiated in the market today. Over the last few years, we've greatly expanded our grid offerings with Application Grid in the middleware layer (WebLogic, Coherence, Tuxedo and JRockit), Oracle VM for server virtualization, and Exadata smart storage server. So today, we've got the full stack of grid products from storage and infrastructure up through databases and middleware, all managed in an integrated fashion by Oracle Enterprise Manager.


Oracle named exclusive Diamond Sponsor of Cloud Expo 2010 which will take place April 19-21, 2010 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City

Grid Computing combines server virtualization and clustering across the stack to provide the dynamic, shared infrastructure that forms the basis of Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing shares many of the characteristics and technology requirements Grid Computing. Oracle's emphasis on Grid Computing capabilities such as dynamic resource provisioning, dynamic resource scheduling and highly automated management of clusters and virtual machines map directly to the requirements of Cloud Computing. Oracle's highly automated management of server clustering (RAC and WebLogic) and server virtualization provides the elastic scalability and fault tolerance required for enterprise class clouds. Policy-based automation enables management of virtualized resources, and metering resource consumption enables pay-per-use billing and chargeback. So our Grid Computing products provide the key building blocks for Cloud Computing.

Cloud Computing Journal: Are the chief advantages of Cloud Computing in your view most readily applicable to the large enterprise user, or to SMBs, or both?

Sarwal: There are compelling reasons for both large and medium-sized enterprises to be interested in cloud computing. For medium-sized companies, the top reason they are looking at cloud computing is that it's so much faster and cheaper to get started. Medium-sized companies may not have sophisticated IT departments nor the money to invest in upfront capital expenses, so using a public cloud provider may be very attractive.

For larger companies, using an external cloud vendor may enable small teams or departments to get a new application or a development/test environment running in minutes instead of months. The self-service aspect of public clouds means that small teams can avoid a long wait for IT departments to approve project requests, procure servers, find room for them in the data center, install software, configure software, etc.

Also, some applications have a limited lifespan of a few weeks or months, perhaps for a marketing campaign, event or special project. Pay-for-use and being able to return IT resources to the pool is perfect for these situations.

Some enterprises, especially larger ones with economies of scale, are implementing "private clouds" for their own exclusive use. Large enterprises are interested in building their own private cloud to get the agility, efficiency and quality of service advantages of cloud computing, while mitigating concerns about public clouds, such as security, compliance, performance, reliability, vendor lock-in and long-term costs.

Cloud Computing Journal: I know that you have partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer various products and services: can you update us on those?

Sarwal: Yes, in September 2008 we announced that customers can license Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Enterprise Manager on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). They can use their existing Oracle licenses on EC2 and move them between EC2 and their own data center if they wish. We also provided a number of Amazon Machine Images for Oracle products to help customers get up and running on EC2 in a matter of minutes. We've seen a lot of interest in this, particularly from developers who don't want to wait for IT to set up servers for development and testing.

Cloud Computing Journal: And will these offerings be extended to other Cloud platforms in the future?

Sarwal: Yes, we are working with several other cloud service provider partners right now, and will outline these in future announcements.

Cloud Computing Journal: So "Databases in the Cloud" are already a reality today - how about security, need enterprises have any concerns there?

Sarwal: Yes, security is often one of the top concerns and barriers to adoption. Actually, there are many different things that people mean when they say security in the cloud, including data privacy and protection, identity and access, compliance and eDiscovery, business continuity and disaster recovery.  Some people say cloud computing is already secure enough to be used by enterprises, and that some public clouds might even have better security practices than some companies have internally.

Oracle is committed to improving cloud security and lowering this barrier to adoption of cloud computing. Security has always been a key focus area for us, and we have been building some very innovative security solutions over the years, such as Oracle Database Vault and Transparent Data Encryption. While these features are great for some of our most security-conscious customers, they are much more important, actually essential, for running in public clouds. So, our products bring industry-leading security functionality, and this plays a big role in making the cloud environment secure for enterprises.

Cloud Computing Journal: And how about "middleware in the cloud" what's the story there?

Sarwal: Oracle Fusion Middleware is an important part of Oracle's total cloud offering. Middleware provides the necessary application infrastructure for developing, deploying and managing cloud-based applications. Oracle Fusion Middleware includes the industry-leading application server, SOA, BPM and integration and identity management technology, and others. In a cloud context, this middleware has to provide functions such as elastic, horizontal scalability; resource sharing with multi-tenancy; access and role management for self-service and billing and chargeback.

Oracle's application grid includes the WebLogic application server, Coherence In-Memory Data Grid, Tuxedo TP monitor and JRockit JVM.  WebLogic, Coherence and Tuxedo support clustering which enables resource sharing and scale-out, so Oracle application grid has what's needed for elastic cloud deployments.

Oracle SOA Suite provides shared services and integration, Oracle Identity Management provides user access and role management, and Oracle WebCenter provides the basis for a self-service portal. All of these are important for public and private cloud computing.

Just as for database, Oracle Fusion Middleware can run in public clouds like Amazon EC2, and Amazon Machine Images exist for rapid setup. And just like database, our middleware provides important building blocks for enterprises building private clouds as well as service providers building public clouds.

Cloud Computing Journal: Does Oracle's on-demand approach to cloud computing offer pay-per-use pricing?

Sarwal: Yes, Oracle offers a growing number of SaaS applications on a subscription basis, including Oracle CRM On Demand, Oracle Beehive On Demand (collaboration), and Oracle Argus On Demand (drug safety). In addition, other SaaS service providers can now purchase license and maintenance for components of the Oracle Platform for SaaS on monthly basis. These components include Oracle Database and options like Real Application Clusters, Oracle WebLogic and Oracle Application Server, and Oracle Enterprise Manager packs for database.

Cloud Computing Journal: Backing up for a moment and looking at the Big Picture, do you agree with those who contend that the Cloud in general is pushing up the operational excellence curve?

Sarwal: The growing popularity of public clouds is beginning to put pressure on enterprise IT departments to rethink longstanding data center practices in order to provide better service and flexibility at a lower cost. There is some concern in IT departments that end users may bypass their IT departments for the immediacy of deploying to a public cloud environment, thereby introducing unknown variables into the IT equation, especially in terms of security and compliance. That's why some IT departments are now looking at building private clouds as the means to becoming a better service provider to the lines of business.

If IT can provide rapid provisioning via self-service, pay-per-use chargeback, while also providing greater control over security, quality of service and compliance, and being lower cost over the long term, then these private clouds will have the advantages of public clouds while mitigating the disadvantages of public clouds.

Enterprises are looking to vendors like us to enable them to help transform their current infrastructure to make it more cloud-like, more agile, flexible and efficient. Providing customers with a ready-to-use private cloud solution is therefore a priority area for us. We want to provide customer a complete solution that enables them deliver cloud like services within their data center - including self-service provisioning, chargeback, policy based QoS management, etc.

Cloud Computing Journal: Oracle recently purchased Virtual Iron - was that based on a vision of a future where cloud computing dominates the enterprise IT scene?

Sarwal: Oracle is uniquely positioned to provide customers with integrated clustering, virtualization and management solutions for deploying a complete application stack either in a physical or a virtual environment, including clouds. Only Oracle combines the benefits of server clustering and server virtualization technologies to deliver a complete Grid Computing infrastructure.

Virtual Iron is a strategic addition to Oracle's virtualization portfolio. Our intent is to quickly and seamlessly combine that technology with Oracle VM to deliver a product that is unique in the industry both in breadth of functionality, and also depth of features specifically designed to make the full application stack easier to deploy, manage, and support in a virtual environment.

Virtual Iron helps us provide better management of both virtualized and clustered environments. Virtual Iron complements Oracle VM by providing dynamic resource management to optimize server capacity and power consumption. Customers will get faster application deployment, streamlined VM configuration, improved visibility and control across Oracle's enterprise software stack, and improved ability to meet service levels for virtual environments.

Cloud Computing Journal: What is Oracle's view of cloud computing and what is Oracle's cloud computing strategy?

Sarwal: We are still in the early days of cloud computing. Adoption will happen gradually, and many enterprises will eventually adopt a mix of public and private cloud computing, and some systems will remain on static, dedicated infrastructure as well. A large enterprise typically has thousands of applications. Some portion of those will move to a cloud, while others are fine as-is.

We believe that cloud is an important trend that we will support. We have two objectives. The first is to ensure that cloud computing is fully enterprise grade, meaning high performance, scalability, reliability, availability, security and standards-based for portability and interoperability. Second, we will support both public and private cloud computing in order to give customers choice.

To accomplish these objectives, we have a three pronged strategy. First, we offer customers a growing number of SaaS applications, so Oracle itself is a SaaS cloud provider. Second, we provide our enterprise grade software platform to other cloud providers to enable them to build, deploy and manage their cloud offerings. Third, we give customers the choice of deploying Oracle technologies in either private clouds or public clouds such as Amazon. One of our big areas of focus is to help enterprises build private clouds using the rich capabilities of the full Oracle stack.

Cloud Computing Journal: At a previous recent SYS-CON conference, Oracle has championed the notion of Rich Enterprise Applications; can REAs be deployed in the Cloud?

Sarwal: Yes, Rich Enterprise Applications, which are based on Oracle ADF Faces and Oracle WebCenter, can be deployed in the cloud. As a matter of fact, Oracle's REA microsite runs on Amazon EC2. So even Oracle, which runs a large private cloud internally, finds it useful to use a public cloud like EC2 at times.

Cloud Computing Journal: How about your own upcoming keynote at our Cloud Computing Conference & Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center; what will you be looking to achieve, in terms of getting Oracle's "Cloud Vision" out there?

Sarwal: I'm going to be talking about "separating the hype from reality." Oracle has tried to be as pragmatic as possible about our public statements about - and R&D investment in - grid and cloud computing. We've seen in the past that imagination, vision and hype usually runs way ahead of what technology companies can actually deliver. I'm going to talk about how we see enterprises evolving toward a dynamic shared infrastructure, public and private clouds, and hybrid clouds. We do have a strategy and a vision for helping enterprises take advantage of cloud computing for better agility, efficiency and quality of service. But the question is, what can customers do today that will enable them be in a position to reap the benefits of cloud computing?

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More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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