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Welcome to the community: Deriving more value from Oracle in the cloud

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / aorpixza)

Are organizations getting enough value from their current cloud hosting solutions? It’s a big question and one that is central to the ethos of a lot of challenger brands.  

According to a recent study, only 37 percent of businesses are getting the full value they expected from cloud technology. So, when it comes to choosing a provider, how can companies make sure they are maximizing the value of their cloud investment? 

If we take “value” to mean a balance between performance, security, reliability, scalability, the level of service and the total cost of ownership of a platform, then it’s likely that every company will “value” a different blend of those requirements.  

Every workload or application has its own set of specific hosting criteria. For each organization these requirements may differ too, depending on its business objectives. Take Oracle’s E-Business Suite (EBS) for example.  Oracle EBS covers a huge a range of enterprise functions including finance, procurement, supply chain, manufacturing, human resources and payroll. These Oracle applications form a reliable backbone for enterprises and can often run more efficiently when configured to run on cloud infrastructure.

The state of Cloud   

In recent years, there has been a dramatic shift in attitudes with regards to hosting applications with public cloud providers. The embrace of cloud technology to enable remote work over the last year has put it firmly on every CIOs radar once again. According to Gartner, spending on public cloud services revenue will grow another 18 percent in 2021 to $305bn.  

Flexibility and scalability are key elements driving this cloud growth. A recent study by Aptum found increased efficiency to be the top cloud driver amongst nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents. 

In practice this means being able to add large amounts of computing power with relative ease and at a fraction of the cost of buying servers that reside on-premise. When IT teams source their own hardware, they need to predict their needs for roughly five years at a time - a lifetime in today’s fast moving commercial world. 

When partnering with a Cloud Hosting Provider, customers only pay for what they use and add compute and storage when needed. That focus on scalability has driven the growth of cloud behemoths, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure over the last two decades. 

But when it comes to optimizing specific application sets, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider like Azure or AWS, may not be the best option, as is the case for Oracle systems.

Hosting Oracle on IaaS  

In an IaaS environment a customer rents infrastructure that is supplied and managed online by a Cloud Hosting Provider. They run the data centre and servers, and organizations run their own software. Organizations running Oracle EBS on IaaS cloud will need in-house services, or to engage a 3rd party, to deploy and manage the required systems.   

IaaS hyperscalers like AWS and Azure do offer additional security and compliance tools as chargeable extras, but again they do not manage them. The entire task and cost of migration usually falls down to the customer too. The lift and shift approach that is typical of inexperienced migrations, only changes the location of IT and will not optimize the overall workload performance. 

Of course, the largest cost consideration for hosting Oracle software on one of these public cloud platforms is the relatively high cost of licensing the technology. This license cost, plus those extras, and the likely need for support, drastically increases the total cost of ownership of hosting Oracle applications on an IaaS cloud. Money is not the only answer, but it does make a difference. 

It begs the question, is hyperscale domination side-lining service as a core cloud requirement?

Levelling up with PaaS  

In a Platform-as-a-Service environment, the Cloud Hosting Provider maintains control over the virtualization software and hardware. Consequentially, all servers, storage and networking can be managed as part of the cloud package. This reduces the need for customers to manage the solution, freeing up time and resources.  

Accenture’s research found that skills shortages top the list of technical concerns for hyperscale IaaS environments. PaaS providers can address some of those concerns.  

Migration and configuration are covered as part of the PaaS offering. The additional wrap around services for security and resilience are also included and managed. This eliminates the need for in-house teams to be trained and spend time on these activities.  

The level of service for a PaaS platform depends on the provider. For Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, as an example, there are many organizations that can provide further wrap around services, as highlighted in Gartner’s 2021 Market Guide for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Professional and Managed Services. 

Community cloud  

Community Cloud platforms host multiple tenants, allowing several companies with similar requirements to work on the same platform.  

Community Cloud’s main differentiator is that it enables the same degree of customization as a private cloud platform but allows the costs to be spread across more users. This allows users to achieve a higher degree of customization that suits the common purposes of its tenants and that isn’t possible on a public cloud platform.  

A community cloud built on Oracle’s own virtualization architecture is optimized specifically for application sets like Oracle EBS. The level of this support can be tailored to the customer’s needs and there is a greater range of services available.  

Within a hybrid multi-cloud context this set up makes even more sense. The specific hardware and skills provided by a community cloud provider, will allow organizations to enjoy all the traditional benefits associated with cloud, with better Oracle application performance, a full-service wrapper, scalable options for compute and storage resource, and lower total cost of ownership. Organizations can then take advantage of similar offerings, that are configured to optimize other workloads.  

IaaS hyperscaler providers present customers with a myriad of options that can easily overwhelm non-technical buyers. Identifying the CPUs, data disks, and NICs can be time consuming, and won’t necessarily yield the best solution. PaaS solutions that operate in specific niches provide fewer, more appropriate options, that are tailored to the workload. 

Using a complex piece of software like Oracle EBS on the cloud is a bit like running a Formula 1 car. It requires a team of expert engineers, with differing specialties, working on it in order to optimize it and make it perform at its best. Choosing the right Cloud Hosting Provider, the right engineers, is crucial to making the most of your investment in Oracle.

Mark Vivian, CEO, Claremont