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Posts Tagged ‘cloud computing’

Mirchandani: Oracle Fusion Gets Its Due

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I missed this a while back, but Vinnie Mirchandani always has interesting takes. Here’s what he saw when he watched Oracle CEO Larry Ellison give his keynote at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld:

Larry Ellison could have been somber – if he knew of his friend Steve Jobs dying he did not let on. He could have been pissy about the Marc Benioff incident in the morning. He could have been lethargic – the Infosys session that preceded his put the lady sitting next to me to sleep. Instead he was in fine fettle – humorous, sarcastic. Probably the most enjoyable OOW keynote I have seen from him in a few years.

Why?

Oracle arranged for several sessions with its Apps leadership team and several of the Fusion early adopter customers. The range and size of the customers was impressive (I spent time with senior IT and finance execs from large aerospace, mortgage, restaurant chain, federal agency, insurance, electronics firms) – as was their pragmatism. The majority were happy to be on-premise liking future flexibility to move to a SaaS or on-demand mode. Their major drivers – instead of doing a major upgrade on an existing Oracle apps platform (JDE, PeopleSoft etc) why not go with a more modern Fusion architecture?

Interesting to note that the standard upgrade junction/opportunity is making organizations consider Fusion. Some six months ago, the idea of Fusion being looked at for the next upgrade cycle was a fantasy. Now, it’s happening — for real. But is it perfect for all organizations? No –it’s still a fledgling rollout, no matter how you cut it.

Fusion is also inconsistent in its depth – richer in core financials, HRM and CRM functionality than other parts of the enterprise, and the vertical journey to migrate Retek, i-Flex etc has just begun, though Thomas Kurian , EVP Product Development gave me a confident response on the speed at which that verticalization will proceed.

Consider Fusion, but do so realistically is the takeaway here. In many of our client conversations, there’s a lot of interest in Fusion, but once the surface is scratched and pragmatism seeps into the discussion, few are ready to move away from a mature PeopleSoft system just yet.

If you have questions or comments about Fusion, its adoption and what it means for PeopleSoft, please let us know. We’ll be happy to talk. No pressure, no pitch. We enjoy talking Oracle to anyone.

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RightNow Opens Oracle’s SaaS Play; Puts Salesforce.com on Alert

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Two days ago, Oracle acquired RightNow for $1.5B, and many analysts immediately said the purchase was, for all intents and purposes, missiles aimed at Salesforce.com.

But  how? What does this mean? How to decipher this? What does the acquisition do for Oracle? Won’t Oracle’s ‘Public Cloud’ be comprised of technologies already in Oracle’s stack?

Not exactly. According to ZDNet’s Phil Wainewright (and Larry Dignan), Oracle’s purchase of SaaS pioneer RightNow basically signals Oracle’s intent to go cloud shopping and pick up a slew of tier 2 SaaS players.

With the acquisition of early SaaS pioneer RightNow Technologies, Oracle has signalled its intention to build out its Public Cloud offering with what will likely become a string of acquisitions of second-tier SaaS vendors. I’m in total agreement with my ZDNet colleague Larry Dignan that the official press statement was “basically shorthand for ‘Oracle is going cloud shopping’.”

So who might be on the list?

I’d expect the shopping list to include public companies including Taleo and several others in the talent management sphere, along with ServiceNow.com in the IT service management space and various less well known names from other sectors.

Things are going to get interesting in the next few months. The most interesting part of all of is is the ideological shift that’s taking place: Oracle might not be building out its Public Cloud with primarily in-house technology; it plans on creating it via acquisition. And we all know Oracle’s extremely good at identifying smart acquisition targets.

Popcorn, anyone?

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2012 IT Budgets, Salaries on the Rise

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Carolyn Duffy Maran, reporting for NetworkWorld:

The outlook for IT budgets is solid, with 83% of survey respondents reporting that their 2011 IT budget was greater than or equal to their 2010 IT budget. This figure compares to 48% reporting stable or growing IT budgets in 2009.

Similarly, 85% of IT executives are predicting that their 2012 IT budgets will be greater than or equal to their 2011 figures. Only 65% of respondents made this prediction two years ago.

Another positive indicator is that IT budget allocations will remain steady in 2012, with internal staff expected to receive the largest share of the pie at 37% of spending compared to 38% this year.

Also note the outlook on outsourcing, forever IT’s boogeyman in the closet:

The SIM survey indicated no plans by management to increase offshore outsourcing, which has been a fear among IT professionals over the years. CIOs reported that they spent only 2% of their 2011 IT budgets on offshore outsourcing and 3% on domestic outsourcing. For 2012, they are projecting the same level of investment for offshore and domestic outsourcing.

And finally, don’t underestimate this surprising finding regarding cloud computing spend:

One surprise finding was that CIOs are not planning to allocate a significant amount of their IT budgets to internal or external cloud computing services. Although cloud computing was listed as one of the top applications that CIOs are investing in during 2011, they are spending only a tiny amount of money in this area: an average of 6% of their 2011 IT budgets on internal cloud projects and 5% on external cloud efforts.

Emphasis mine. Interesting that despite all the marketing and the buzzworthiness of cloud computing, the pursestrings are still on hold. Maybe it’s a value realization thing — that cloud, while promising, can’t be presented to the C-level in terms of actual ROI yet? Maybe it’s the backlog of IT services that have been neglected over the past few years, so cloud is hot, but not as hot as things that have been on the to-do list for 24 months?

ERP salespeople, take note: there’s still unmet demand out there. Enterprise cloud/SaaS salespeople: your challenge is to prove that the cloud is now, the value is real and time time has come for private clouds.

What’s your take?

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‘Stickier Than a Roach Motel’

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The Register’s Timothy Prickett Morgan scoops what is some of the best (and latest) Oracle Fusion information I’ve seen. Here he is with the overview of the modern-day Fusion, what it is, and how it’s built:

Ellison started off talking about the Fusion apps, a reworking from the ground up of all the business logic embodied in the Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel, JD Edwards, and other applications that the software giant has either built or acquired in the past 15 years. The plan, said Ellison, was to get these Fusion applications out the door in four years, but it took six years. The Fusion suite is written in Java and uses BPEL as a means of linking the apps to outside applications. It includes more than 100 modules encompassing financial, human capital, supply chain, and project portfolio management as well as procurement and governance and compliance apps.

For our more visually-inclined readers:

(Click to enlarge)

But the most interesting aspect of this latest volley of Fusion information is Larry Ellison’s edgy, almost pugnacious presentation of the what the Fusion-powered Oracle ‘cloud’ is, especially as it relates to proprietary clouds, like, he says, those powering rival platform Salesforce.com. For those who missed the drama, note that a year ago, Benioff tweeted, during an OpenWorld keynote, “Beware of false clouds.”

Ellison didn’t pass on the opportunity this year to swipe at Benioff’s comment.

“That is such good advice. I could not have said it better myself,” Ellison sneered, rattling off a list of differences between the Oracle Public Cloud and Salesforce.com. The Oracle cloud is built on “standards,” by which Ellison meant Java, BPEL, SQL, SOA, Groovy, Web services, and so on, while Salesforce.com is a proprietary cloud platform with proprietary applications, with its APEX language, the Heroku platform cloud, and extensions like Force.com, Appforce, Siteforce, and vmforce.

By contrast, the Oracle cloud runs glatt kosher Java and supports Oracle’s database and Fusion middleware, which means you can run your applications on premise, in the Oracle Public Cloud, or even Amazon’s EC2 cloud. Salesforce.com’s applications, said Ellison, run only on its own cloud.

“It’s kind of the ultimate vendor lock-in,” said Ellison, winding the crowd up. “You can check in, but you can’t check out. It’s stickier than a roach motel.” He paused for a second and then added: “It’s like an airplane you fly into the cloud and you never come out.”

Ellison also took a few swings at Salesforce.com’s multitenancy model, which, he says, was a good idea 15 years ago, when people had no other options. Today, that’s no longer the case.

Fusion is just taking shape for many people, and it’s becoming clearer that it’s a cloud-powered, elastic layer that will use BPEL and other web services to connect your existing applications and data stores. It’s a major shift for Oracle, but one that I admire — the company couldn’t evolve without it.  Is it formidable? Of course it is — it’s Oracle, after all. And how can you not admire an enterprise company who communicates so boldly and plainly?

What are your thoughts? Is Fusion what you thought it would be?  More? Less? Still need a better understanding of what it is and where it will fit into your business?

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Finally, Some Focus Comes to Oracle Fusion

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Bill Kutik talks about Oracle’s perception problem with Fusion after their five years of secrecy, what the early adopters so far look like, and how customers are slowly looking at Fusion in earnest. But an interesting subplot is the Oracle v. Workday cage match that’s going on, one that will be ultimately considered a function of time if Kutik is correct:

What nobody talks about publicly is Oracle’s effort to derail Workday’s late-stage sales efforts to Oracle clients. Again, business as usual: It’s called capitalism. Apparently, it may have contributed to Workday’s not signing Charles Schwab, but Oracle’s efforts failed at Thomson Reuters, which was recently announced as a Workday customer.

That’s the cage match to watch going forward — with Workday currently having the advantage of older battle-tested software, being able to pursue larger customers and 230 of them already signed. But given Oracle’s much larger size, resources and installed base, those Workday advantages will shrink over time.

Fusion became generally available on June 1, Leone says, and now anyone can buy it, though still with careful qualification.

Leone confirms that Oracle is looking to HCM as its best source for larger company Fusion sales.

It will be interesting to see how Fusion gets a foothold in the market and builds momentum. It’s been a long five years, and people are interested for real developments and releases. We hear it firsthand every day.

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Amazon Storing More Than 49B Objects in S3

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Derrick Harris, writing for GigaOm:

At Structure 2011 last month, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels told the crowd that S3 was storing 339 billion objects. At this same time last year, the service was only storing 262 billion objects. One might also draw a parallel to the ever-growing cloud revenues at Rackspace, the incredible amount of computing capacity AWS adds every day or the mass proliferation of new Software-as-a-Service offerings.

That’s 100% growth year-over-year. And be sure to click the Rackspace link, because they’re not doing too shabby either.  Right now AWS leads the way, with Rackspace running in second.

My feeling is that we’re still in the beginning stages. Cloud usage growth is going to go non-linear sometime down the line.

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Cloud vs. Cloudburst: Where Cloud Computing Is, Isn’t and Might Be

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Over the past few weeks, several people have asked me about the “cloud” and how I think it will impact the future of ERP.  Well, I’m not an expert in cloud computing, nor do I have a crystal ball.  But what I do have is 20+ years of industry experience.  So, while I can’t give you a definitive answer on the future, I can share with you my observations.

First, people have been talking about the possibility of distributed applications for over a decade.  Remember when Bill Gates said he envisioned a time when people would “rent” Microsoft Office over the web and we all snickered and scoffed?  Well, Mr. Gates, as it turns out, just may have one of those crystal balls.

So the cloud, or distributed processing, has arrived and will more than likely be here for many years.  But even with its many benefits (reduced hardware requirements, limited internal support needs, global availability and other pros listed by specialists of business IT support in London), distributed processing has its limitations.  One can argue that distributed processing is great for user-focused applications like CRM, word processing and logistics because these applications reach a broad range of industries with a minimal amount of customization.  It’s much harder to say the same thing, however, about back-office enterprise systems.

In the world of back-office enterprise software, applications must be configured to meet a wide and growing range of business processes.  Trying to herd all business types into “standard” business processes would keep change management companies busy for the next century and remove competitive advantages that some companies have built their infrastructure to support.  And there’s no way a discreet manufacturer would adopt the business processes of a healthcare provider — or vice versa.

So the next alternative is for enterprise software vendors is to utilize distributed applications to provide multiple “versions” of the application for various industries.  Viable?  Probably not — this alone would drive cost and support models out of control.  And I must admit, in my twenty years in the industry, I’ve never seen two companies attempt to configure the software the same way.  Even in similar industries, there are always differences that need to be addressed.

With all that said, I do think that you will begin to see additional applications being moved to and supported in a cloud environment.  Anytime a software vendor can standardize their product it lowers their support cost and appeals to a wider audience.  So look for the trend to continue.  And by all means, don’t confuse a hosted or managed services offering with a SaaS model.  Hosting and managed services are essentially your custom environment running on someone else’s equipment.  SaaS is a distributed software environment.  Lots of confusion, but the gods live in the details. Maybe I can talk more about that next month!

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Chromebooks and the cloud: The ugly truth

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David Linthicum, writing for InfoWorld:

The difference with that use of cloud computing compared to the Chromebook’s is that I’m not forced to be completely dependent on the cloud for these services; I can mix and match them to meet my specific needs. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting that freedom.

Thus, Chromebooks could be to laptops what Google TV was to cable TV: a great idea in concept, but not thought through as to how the device would be used in the real world by real people. The innovative nature of the Chromebook won’t get around its inherent limitations.

Such a tough call; when the iPad came out, first-blush reactions were that it was nothing more than a ‘big iPod touch.” 18 months later, anyone who still holds that opinion hasn’t used an iPad.

So when I read stuff like this, I wonder if the author has actually used one of the soon-to-be-shipping Chromebook models from Acer or Samsung.  I’m guessing not.

I understand his theoretical objection: the Chromebook is simply a cloud client.  If your network connection dies, you’re out of business.  If you’re in an area without a network connection, your machine is probably functionally worthless.  Local storage is limited, and the idea of local apps — something everyone’s familiar with — is non-existent.

As I sit here and type this, though, I am doing 90% of my work in Google Chrome.  I’m entering this text in a WordPress bookmarklet, which spawns another Chrome window.  My only open local apps are Skype and Tweetdeck.  A few times during each day, I have to make a quick jaunt into Word or Excel, but the lifting is light: I could just as easily use Google Docs.  I don’t because I’m often doing a lot of edits, and docs come to me in MS Office formats.

My quibble with the Chromebooks center around their price (as many others have noted): $349 to $469?  That ain’t cheap, especially when you can get a full-on Windows 7 laptop for very close to that price.

I think the Chromebook concept is a good one, but I wonder if the timing is right.  The price might not be.  Aside from the nerd and web monkey populations out there (among which I count myself), I imagine the initial reaction will be, “It’s just a browser?”

That’s tough sledding.  You can explain local vs. cloud storage until you’re blue in the face, but people are going to have a hard time making such a macro adjustment.  Remember the backlash against Office’s ribbon-style toolbar when it came out?  You’d think someone took away users’ most important apps and entirely changed their computer.

Which is exactly what Google is trying to do.

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For Oracle, ‘Choice’ Is Key Message

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Vinnie Mirchandani (@dealarchitect on Twitter) with a nice synopsis of Oracle’s new ‘choice’ messaging.  Given Oracle’s incredibly wide (and premium) stable of offerings, combined with its recent cloud-facing announcements, this is smart, solid positioning:

He emphasized choice in other ways as he discussed Fusion apps – more choice in portfolio of ERP apps versus competitive narrow, CRM, HR and other SaaS category offerings. He talked about choices in co-existence scenarios with current PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and Oracle EBS products. He threw out names of a choice of SIs which were working with around 50 early adopter Fusion implementations – Price Waterhouse, IBM, Accenture, Deloitte.

Later when I met with Steve I asked him if the SIs were influencing the choices – given they were “traditional” firms, were they nudging customers towards private cloud implementations? He said he did not see it – they were being smart in going along with customer desire/direction.

The truth of the matter is from where Oracle sits, the choices they offer customers is mind-boggling — in a good way.  The challenge of the ‘choice’ message is that its analogous to the ‘open’ message in that it’s very fragile.  (Look at how much heat Google is taking when it announced that it would take tighter control of its Android OS — the cries of ‘But you said it was open!’ were deafening.)  If Oracle is truly offering choice, does that include, say, cloud technologies that lie outside its own product/service portfolio?  Does that include the use of SIs who might have their own technologies and methodologies that are in direct competition, to some extent, with Oracle’s own?

I suspect the ‘choice’ message’s permanence will rest on how Oracle manages its own offerings versus other directions customers may lean.

Nonetheless, Oracle’s doing all the right things when it comes to addressing the market (pay special attention to the progress of Fusion as evidenced by Principal and certain units of Easton and Alcoa).  Hopefully, it continues through the sales cycle and into implementation.  As Mirchandani says, “Time will tell.”

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Oracle’s Cloud Computing Strategy

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Update: fixed white paper citation.

Given what we do as a consulting firm, we have to be a keen observer of the latest industry trends and advances in the technology marketplace.  It is, after all, what our clients talk to us about daily.  In the case of cloud computing, its emergence is but another important manifestation of  industry innovation resulting in solving real business problems.

We think Oracle’s white paper, entitled Achieving the Cloud Computing Vision (PDF link; published in October 2010), says it best.  From the Executive Summary:

Cloud computing is enabling the agility required by organizations to be leaders in today’s ever growing global economy. It is accelerating the time to market for new products and services while reducing the costs to design, build, deploy, and support these products and services. It has the ability to fundamentally change the way IT services are delivered and consumed.

The cloud computing storm has been brewing since the early days of computing. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the expense of acquiring and running mainframe computer systems necessitated the use of pooled resources and virtualization. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, inexpensive commodity hardware enabled distributed computing with rich user interfaces. In the early to mid 2000’s, a virtualized grid of commodity hardware emerged. Today, cloud computing is adding self service and metered usage to the virtualized grid, enabling capabilities such as dynamic workloads and automated provisioning.

The promise of cloud computing is extraordinary. Improved agility, reduced CAPEX and OPEX, faster time to market, among others, are just some of the business benefits. And to realize your vision, it takes a disciplined approach to building a proper business case and sustainable future state architecture.  This paper provides a framework and process that organizations can use to achieve their cloud computing vision.

As the hype has built, Oracle has been relatively indifferent to the cloud trend, but finally we are seeing how they view the market and its accompanying technology.  Watch the video below (it’s under six minutes) and let us know if Oracle’s cloud strategy is aligned with what you envision for your organization.  All comments welcome.

Rex Wang, Oracle VP of Product Marketing for Infrastructure and Mgmt.

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