Oracle’s cloud: inspiration or desperation?

Among the slew of press releases wafting in from Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference are the corporation’s plans for a public infrastructure-as-service offering. The move puts Oracle in direct competition with Amazon’s Web Services.

Or maybe not. Oracle’s approach to the cloud is typically idiosyncratic.

Oracle’s own software and hardware technology will embedded though its cloud like the word Blackpool through a stick of seaside rock from the north of England.

The company plans to use its own high-end hardware, mainly technology it inherited when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010.

Other cloud players use commodity servers to build scale. More business simply means more servers.

While an Oracle cloud sounds like a smart move, the business is woefully late to the cloud. Late, even by enterprise computing standards. HP and IBM are there already. And Oracle is taking a largely proprietary software approach – one that won’t play well with everyone.

You might argue Oracle’s cloud announcement admits defeat over Sun. While its rivals were re-engineering their businesses to offer online services that replaced or by-passed high-end hardware, Oracle was struggling to integrate just that kind of technology.

Oracle still hasn’t found a way to make the Sun acquisition pay – perhaps using that companies kit in cloud server farms will change that.

The same forces that have buffeted enterprise players like HP now trouble Oracle. It is beset on all side by smarter, more nimble, and – given Oracle’s history it is weird writing this – more aggressive competitors.