Cloud at Customer aims to replicate many of the attributes of a public cloud, whilst remaining on-site and behind a company’s firewall, so as to alleviate the concerns of companies that may be subject to regulatory or data restrictions.
Oracle launched the service just over a year ago, then just with IaaS and limited PaaS offerings, and claims to have secured customers in 35 countries, across 6 continents. The latest PaaS and SaaS additions have been introduced in response to the growing demand, Oracle has said.
Some of the customers using Cloud at Customer now include AT&T and Bank of America.
I got the chance to speak to Nirav Mehta, VP of product management at Oracle, to find out more about why Oracle sees Cloud at Customer as necessary, given its push for public cloud in other areas, and to get a better understanding of how the offering differs from a more traditional managed service/private cloud.
The backdrop for why we introduced this offering is because there is a large portion of customers globally who are not able to move applications and data to the public cloud, because of data residency or privacy concerns. And sometimes latency concerns.
About a year ago, May 2016, we introduced Oracle Cloud at Customer. The concept was very simple. Replicate the Oracle public cloud at the customer premises with little or not compromise in the following aspects - it should be very simple to buy, it should be a simple cloud subscription that covers everything, it should be identical in functionality so that customers can have a consistency in experience across the deployment models, and it should very clear and unambiguous who supports this service (Oracle services everything related to the platform).
Mehta said that the adoption of the service spans large global enterprises, as well as smaller town governments, banks and healthcare organisations.
The product info
The additional services being offered include:
- IaaS - a more flexible, granular expansion model, where customers can now buy a single compute expansion or a single storage increment, making it more flexible. More performance has been added to the platform in the form of NVMe SSD storage in every compute node, as standard. Finally, Oracle has also added an all-flash block storage option, for higher I/O performance.
- PaaS - Cloud at Customer now supports all the major PaaS categories - including data management, application development, integration, security/identity, and big data and analytics.
- SaaS - The service now includes a host of ‘SaaS’ options, including Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle CX Cloud, Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud.
The introduction of ‘SaaS’ is the major part of the announcement, giving companies the ability to run their applications on-site as they would in a public cloud, Mehta said. He explained:
This is again following the same simplicity principles of the customer buys the subscription as they would in the Oracle Public Cloud. For example, if they wanted ERP or HCM, they would simply buy a subscription for say 1,000 seats. And they don’t have to worry about anything else. It took us about a year to get everything right, but we made it so that they do exactly the same on-premise, they would just procure the subscription, we will build the exact hardware they need, ship it, install it, deploy it.
Also, the customer will sign the exact same Oracle cloud contract as they would in the public cloud. It’s the same service levels as the SaaS offering and the functionality is exactly the same.
Mehta said that when customers are comparing Oracle’s public cloud offerings with Cloud at Customer, they should be able to see “parity” between the two.
Why not just go public?
I was keen to find out from Mehta how this, in practical terms, differs from a straightforward managed private cloud. I also wanted to get an understanding of the demand for Cloud at Customer, within the context of demand for all of Oracle’s cloud services.
On the question of the difference between Cloud at Customer and a managed service, Mehta said:
We don’t want this to become a bespoke managed service. You will never hear us call this a managed service, because that has the connotation of customisation for each customer. We do not allow that. It’s a very standard offering. Our customers actually insist on that, they say “please don’t make me different to your global public cloud, I want all that innovation, and I don’t want to get out of sync with your global public cloud platform”.
In terms of demand, Mehta estimated that around 70% of Oracle customers would have some sort of workload that would be suited for Customer at Cloud. Equally, he added, when looking at the total number of workloads in the world, he estimated that approximately 25% of all workloads would not move to a public cloud provider’s data centre in the next three years. He added:
There are very, very few that say we can use the public cloud for every single thing we have.
However, Mehta did admit that despite being able to replicate many of the features of a public cloud on site, there are still inevitably differences that mean that customers won’t have the full benefit of being in the public cloud. He said:
It’s not so much a downside, but one of the differences and compromises is that the customer does have to contract for longer, because we have to require certain term lengths to make this financially viable. Essentially we are shipping dedicated hardware to them. In the public cloud we would have shared the hardware.
And on flexible capacity, Mehta added:
It’s not black or white. But you are right, it is less flexible in that we don’t have a lot of excess capacity sitting at the customer site for them to use. But where we can, we ship a little extra, so that the customer can burst and plan the capacity a little better. We would expect that most mid-to-large customers, by the time they start to burst into that excess capacity, can work with us to place an order for expansion so they don’t get caught off guard.