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Microsoft, Oracle differ on cloud visions

At the recent cloud Computing Expo, software giants Microsoft, Oracle offered hybrid models

By Joab Jackson, IDG News Service
April 22, 2010 04:12 PM ET

IDG News Service - At the Cloud Computing Expo held this week in New York, executives from Microsoft and Oracle shared how they see cloud computing working its way into the enterprise.

The companies offered disparate visions, however, with Microsoft emphasizing its public cloud offerings and Oracle touting tools for building out internal clouds.

Both software giants agreed, however, that enterprise use of clouds is best done on an as-needed basis, in what their executives called "a hybrid model."

"I'd argue that if you'd run today's applications in the cloud with exactly the same utilization as you would in your own data center ... [it] will probably cost you more," said Hal Stern, Oracle president and former Sun Microsystems chief technology officer for services, during one talk.

The advantage of the cloud, Stern argued, is elasticity. It is those "impulse functions of demand, where you want to go to 100 CPUs to 1,000 CPUs, but give them back," he said.

"If you look at every one of the cases that has been held up as a great case of public cloud, they ran for a period time and then put the resources back," Stern said. "That's what made them cost effective."

Routine daily functions, such as payroll or supply chain, may not benefit as much in a cloud deployment (though consumed in a software-as-a-service model, they may reduce complexity).

So the challenge for organizations, Stern contended, is to prepare an enterprise infrastructure for a hybrid model, or a model in which some work is computed in house while other jobs are executed in the cloud. "If we really good at defining that packaging and release engineering, we can use a mix of public and private resources," he said.

As it happens, Oracle chose this conference to announce a new set of products that speed the packaging and deployment of internal applications.

One offering, the Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder (OVAB) allows organizations to create virtual appliances from commonly used infrastructure programs, such as Web servers and databases, so they can be pulled off the shelf and quickly deployed.

"When building multitier applications, it is inevitable that you will have to piece together multiple components," said Arvind Jain, Oracle product strategy director, in a presentation of the new technologies. "The ideal environment for the application developer teams would be an IT infrastructure that would be easily and readily provisioned, so the teams can focus on the application logic."

The other offering, the Oracle WebLogic Suite Virtualization Option, is designed to speed run-times of virtualized Java applications by eliminating the guest operating system that would otherwise be needed to run the application in a virtual container.

This second package consists of a WebLogic application server integrated the Oracle JRockit Virtual Edition, a version of its Java runtime engine tweaked to run on the Oracle Virtual Machine virtualization platform.

"Taking out the guest OS might seem completely counter-intuitive. But JRockit Virtual Edition incorporates the pieces that you need for the VM to run," said Erik Bergenholtz, Oracle director of product management, during the same presentation.

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