Cloud? Middleware? Exalogic Confusion and Why Ellison Owes Me Botox

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Larry Ellison, you owe me a Botox treatment. I've just spent about two hours frowning at my computer screen, trying to figure out what the heck you're talking about when you say Exalogic is "one big, honkin' cloud" that runs behind a firewall, on hardware. Now I've got wrinkles between my eyebrows.


Why couldn't you just say it can be used to create your own internal cloud, aka "private cloud?" Or, as ZDNet Editor in Chief Larry Dignan put it:

Oracle's cloud entry is an integrated hardware/software box dubbed Exalogic Elastic Cloud. The idea here is that the Exalogic box provides cloud infrastructure in one stop. Ellison said Exalogic includes 'the fastest Java performance, elastic capacity on demand and a completely fault tolerant system.' Kind of like, well, a mainframe?

It wouldn't be so confusing if he hadn't compared this wunder solution to Amazon's EC2, which, you may recall, actually doesn't require you to buy hardware and allows you to scale quickly, essentially "renting" processing power as you need it. But he did. I gotta go with Dignan on this one, too:

One core tenet of cloud computing is 'rapid elasticity,' where capacity can be provisioned and scaled up and down at will. Think Amazon Web Services. Does the Exalogic box meet that criteria? Will Oracle take a box back if you don't need the computing power?

NewsFactor included a different Oracle description of Exalogic, writing:

Oracle called the Exalogic 'the world's first integrated middleware machine,' designed to provide a 'complete cloud application infrastructure.'

That makes more sense, frankly, than some of the other articles that focused more on the "cloud" and less on the "infrastructure."


It seems likely this offering will appeal to large companies and governments. GCN noted that it provides another option for government agencies looking to set up private cloud infrastructures.


Exalogic, by the way, is based on Exadata, which is an "optimized" hardware/software storage server appliance (for want of a better word), according to ZD Net's Joe McKendrick. Exadata was the first sign Oracle wanted to make good use of its Sun acquisition and all the hardware that it bought. I suppose Exalogic is the follow-up, because it certainly involves the hardware.


The other thing they have in common? They solve some of those icky integration problems you'll have if you're running different servers. That seems to be the theme song for a lot of big vendors these days, but none more than Oracle. As GigaOm's Gary Orenstein wrote, Exalogic shows:

There's still big business in integration. Plenty of customers have no interest or intent to qualify different hardware components, test for compatibility, manage configurations and optimize for performance. A pre-configured solution makes those headaches go away. Yes, cost is a factor (integration doesn't come cheap), but obviously, not for everyone.

Since I mentioned Exadata, you know it''s no coincidence that-just as Oracle OpenWorld started this week-IBM announced plans to acquire Netezza, right? Netezza is a data warehousing company whose solution, by all accounts, competes with the comparably priced (i.e., $20,000 per usable terabyte) Exadata. As Altimeter Group co-founder and analyst R "Ray" Wang told ReadWrite Enterprise:

IBM is sending a message that there are other options out there, and IBM's going to be one of them.

Forrester's James Kobielus says that at this point, Netezza is "essentially a one-trick pony," that it lacks business intelligence, data integration and a professional services support team. Assuming the deal goes through, he predicts IBM will spiff Netezza's product up a bit with these capabilities and then, abracadabra! It will have a nice integrated offering that should compete nicely with Oracle's Exadata and other "lower cost" data solutions.


The good news for you, dear IT department, is that IBM's move could lead to a price war in the low-cost data warehouse market.


Last but not least, Oracle's Fusion Applications suite seems to have been overshadowed by the hoopla over Exalogic Elastic Cloud. It looks like a really intricate piece of work, too. It's built on Fusion middleware with a service-oriented architecture, which is the foundation for the numerous modular applications it can deliver.


According to NewsFactor this "100 percent open-standards-based" solution "has more than 100 modules in seven product families -- Financial Management, Procurement and Spending, Project and Portfolio Management, Human Capital Management, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, and Governance Risk and Compliance.


The fact that it's built as a SOA also means it plays well with third-party apps, according to V3.co.uk. If you'd like more specifics about its applications, ZDNet has a nice chart summarizing the highlights.


And I'm just kidding about that Botox thing by the way, Mr. Ellison. My brow's been permanently furrowed since I started covering integration several years ago.