Data Management

Oracle Teams With Amazon, Intel in Cloud-Seeding Deals

Oracle announced at its OpenWorld event this week two new partnerships intended to boost the firm’s cloud computing offerings.

The enterprise software maker announced Monday that it has teamed with Amazon to offer enterprise customers options available via the mega-e-tailer’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. Oracle followed up that news Tuesday with the revelation that it has also joined with Intel on a collaboration the two companies said will help accelerate enterprise readiness of cloud computing, making it more efficient and secure.

“The Amazon announcement is huge for Oracle,” Gary Chen, principal analyst at McChen Research, told TechNewsWorld. “Just as [Software as a Service] became a major new model for apps vendors, compute clouds are changing the business models of the infrastructure software and middleware vendors.

“Oracle moving into the cloud, being one of the major enterprise software players, is a sign that it feels that cloud computing is going to be a major channel for enterprises. Kudos to Oracle for taking the initiative and making its software available on a cloud,” he said.

Oracle and Amazon

Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud Web service offers businesses resizable compute capacity in what has become known as the “cloud” via Amazon’s own computing environment. It allows users to easily obtain and configure capacity, giving them the ability scale up or down as their computing requirements change.

Oracle’s tie-up with Amazon offers customers the ability to license Oracle Database 11g, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Enterprise Manager in the cloud on EC2. The licensing also applies to business users with existing licenses. Those existing licenses can be used without any additional fees.

Oracle’s enterprise-level software, including Oracle Enterprise Linux, is available fully configured as pre-packaged and ready to run within a set of free EC2 AMIs (Amazon Machine Image) — Amazon virtual machines. The AMIs enable IT administrators to launch new instances in minutes, according to Amazon.

In addition, development tools from Oracle such as Oracle Application Express, Oracle JDeveloper, Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse and Oracle Workshop for WebLogic can be used to build applications for the new environment. Businesses with an open source setup using Oracle Enterprise Linux on EC2 will enjoy full support from Oracle Unbreakable Support as well as Amazon Premium Support.

The deal also includes a secure backup solution for database servers running on EC2 or within the corporate network, the new Oracle Secure Backup Cloud Module. The module encrypts backups and maximizes throughput by using multiple connections to S3. The offering enables customers to use Amazon S3 as a backup with virtually unlimited capacity. Also included is Oracle’s new Cloud Management Portal, a free, Web-based management software package.

Amazon’s Enterprise Software Cred

The Oracle-Amazon partnership is similar to RedHat’s endorsement of EC2 earlier in 2008, explained James Staten, a Forrester Research analyst.

“It says deployment of these applications — granted, it’s a limited set of Oracle’s portfolio — on clouds are now OK and will be supported deployments. Before, customers had to use MySQL or JBoss or other free software for their cloud deployments when their corporate standard might have been Oracle DB and WebLogic, although Fusion was specifically mentioned in the press release, not WLS,” he told TechNewsWorld.

The announcement is a significant endorsement of cloud computing as a real deployment option for customers and one that warrants the attention of Oracle, Staten continued.

“Oracle wouldn’t be endorsing cloud platforms like Amazon unless customers of value to Oracle were using it and demanding they support these efforts. Second, this endorsement should fuel greater use of cloud computing platforms by enterprise customers because one significant barrier — support and licensing — for deploying on the cloud has been removed,” he added.

Intel and Oracle

In its partnership with Intel, Oracle hopes to remove the potential impediment enterprises face when considering moving into cloud computing. The two companies are pushing the technology as an efficient way to run programs and store data for access from large numbers of users via the Internet.

The joint efforts between Intel and Oracle will focus on providing enterprises with efficiency, security and standards.

The two companies have already collaborated on Oracle VM and the Xen open source hypervisor with Intel VT, which resulted in a 17 percent performance improvement of virtualized instances of Oracle Database on machines running Intel Xeon processors, Oracle said.

On the security front, the hardware and software maker will team to strengthen the security of virtual machines in a shared cloud environment. As Intel develops new virtualization security features, both companies will optimize the technology on Oracle software. They will also work toward better integration of their respective data encryption technologies.

In addition, the two companies will work together with other industry leaders to extend standards that enable portability of virtual machines images such as Open Virtual Format (OVF) and also create Web services standards for provisioning and management of cloud-based services.

“This partnership is fairly broad and indicative of general Intel initiatives around virtual machine performance, security and migration,” Chen noted.

Intel, he said, wants the major applications to run as fast as they can on its platform, so it will work with major independent software vendors to optimize for their applications. The other area is security, often a worry with clouds services, as they are generally multi-tenant and rely on software to enforce isolation.

“Intel can do some of that in the hardware, and they can also enhance encryption performance to protect data,” Chen added. “Also, there is a lot of work on standards, such as OVF, to enable standard methods of moving VMs (virtual machines), allowing VMs to carry contextual information and provisioning and management of cloud resources. Without basic standards, the interface to each cloud will be different and proprietary, which will create a massive obstacle to adoption. However, much of this work involves the industry in general and will extend beyond just Oracle and Intel.”

Although it may appear a odd that a hardware maker and software maker have teamed on cloud computing, according to Staten, this is another show of support.

“[They] are trying to show their support for cloud computing via efforts that are somewhat tangential to the cloud itself. Their collaboration is more around virtualization rather than cloud specifically. It helps but isn’t a cloud-specific effort at this time. Over time, it may become that, but Oracle and Intel have had a longstanding partnership that evolves with the market needs,” he said.

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