Consultant: Oracle's newest "cloud" strategy isn't cloud at all

Oracle's latest advancement of its cloud computing strategy is being called out as a "faux cloud" by a consultant and author, and as the latest example of cloud-washing, or the practice of vendors misusing the ubiquitous technology term.

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This week Oracle announced the availability of a service it previewed last year at Oracle OpenWorld that allows customers to rent Oracle hardware equipment and store it on their own sites for a monthly fee. David Linthicum, CTO and co-founder of cloud and SOA consultancy Blue Mountain Labs, says that's not cloud computing.

"Oracle labels (it) 'infrastructure as a service' but it is not actually a cloud IaaS offering -- it's the usual Oracle data center gear," Linthicum wrote in his blog at Network World sister-site InfoWorld. "Just as Oracle IaaS is not a true cloud offering, neither is Oracle's new 'Iaas On Demand' selection of rental application servers."

The service does not include self-provisioning, auto provisioning, multi-tenancy or the ability to measure service usage on a granular level, all of which are key components to a service being technically considered a "cloud," Linthicum says. "They seem to be just providing their products using other compensation models, in this case rent," Linthicum says.

Through a public relations official who works with Oracle, the company declined to respond to the claims.

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As part of the service announced this week, customers rent the Oracle hardware for a monthly fee, although it requires a three-year contract. Linthicum points out that the fee does not include licensing for peak-usage though. Standard cloud computing offerings include a single fee that incorporates the entire service's cost. Instead, Oracle is "renting its stuff and calling it a cloud."

Many companies considered as public cloud providers charge for additional costs beyond just the hourly rate though. Amazon Web Services, for example, in many cases charges customers for ingress and egress of data into its cloud storage system at a per-GB rate.

Oracle isn't alone in cloud-washing: Linthicum says it's "hugely rampant" in the industry, with virtualization providers calling their systems "private clouds." The National Institute for Standards in Technology defined cloud computing as having five characteristics: on demand self-service; broad network access; resource pooling; rapid elasticity or expansion and measured service. Linthicum says many virtualization vendors call their products cloud when virtualization is really just a piece of a private cloud.

As for Oracle, Linthicum says the company is adjusting to the fundamental shift in the pricing model cloud computing brings with it. The on-demand, pay for only what's used pricing in many cases eliminates the lucrative licensing models that Oracle and other tech companies have relied on, he says. "Oracle blew an opportunity to make a more comprehensive and meaningful move into the cloud market," he says and is now "kicking the can down the road when it comes to finding a real IaaS strategy, public or private."

Oracle released a data sheet explaining the service, in which it claims the monthly rate can end up being less expensive for some customers.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.