Oracle has unveiled plans to offer infrastructure as a service to compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services.
The company, which has held back from providing cloud services for fear of impacting its hardware and software sales, finally conceded the tide had turned earlier this year, bringing to market a suite of software applications and middleware delivered as a service over the internet for a monthly fee.
Chief executive Larry Ellison told attendees at the company's annual OpenWorld conference this week that it would offer infrastructure including a compute service, storage service, operating system and virtual machines.
The service will run on Oracle's integrated Exadata and Exalogic, he said, connected by Infiniband networking.
"We are not running this on conventional, plain old commodity infrastructure," he told attendees.
"It's our OS, our VM, and compute and storage services on the fastest, most secure, most reliable systems in the world."
Pricing and availability was not announced.
Ellison gave his own history of cloud computing, unapologetic about the reasons Oracle had for many years resisted launching services that would compete with its product business. He attributed the late play to delays in developing the Fusion suite of applications.
"We didn't decide to get into cloud computing last year," he said.
"We decided back in 2004 with our Fusion Applications project. It took us a long time to build a complete suite of cloud applications, and the all-important Fusion Middleware. We had to build the modern platform first before we could have the ERP, CRM and HCM applications to run in the cloud."
Ellison conceded that not all customers wanted Oracle to own and manage their infrastructure from a US data centre.
"There are banks outside the US that are more comfortable if their data and servers were located behind their own firewall," he said.
"They still want true cloud — they still want us to own and manage the infrastructure. But the server needs to be behind their firewall."
Oracle has thus introduced a 'private cloud' option, mimicking the product strategy of competitors HP, IBM and EMC. This sees Oracle manage infrastructure from behind a customer's firewall using the same configuration of hardware and software as the Oracle IaaS 'cloud' service.
Ellison said scalability would be available to these 'private cloud' customers via excess capacity installed on a customer's site, on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Brett Winterford travelled to Oracle OpenWorld as a guest of Oracle.