Amazon Oracle in Cloud Services Play

September 23, 2008

Amazon, the company run by the world’s smartest man, has aced Google again. Amazon’s information technology budget is a fraction of Google’s. Over the last three years, Amazon has beaten Google to the punch when it comes to cloud computing. Based on this article on the Amazon Web services Web log, Amazon is now offering Oracle database services on the AWS platform. Jeff Bezos has had a sixth sense or a heck of a Google technology watching operation in place. Amazon has moved more quickly than Google to deliver cloud services that Google * could * have delivered but did not. For example, the work to worker service called MT or Mechanical Turk aced the GOOG. The Amazon storage service beat the GOOG to the market. The elastic cloud service was first out of the gate. Now, Amazon with a fraction of Google’s technical horsepower and information technology budget must watch and learn from Amazon’s Oracle deal. I recall reading somewhere that at the core of Amazon beats the aging but reliable Oracle database. I don’t know if this is true any longer, but I was not expecting this type of deal. Amazon has been making noise with Linux and open source plus some stealth graduate students from European universities. Oracle was a bolt from the blue for me.

Will Oracle prove to be cloudable? Probably, but I anticipate some latency issues. Developers who assume that Oracle’s tricks can be learned on the fly are likely to create some problems. Most of these will be worked out in time.

The larger question is, “What will Google do?” My research provided some data, not definitive data unfortunately, that Google could offer a cloud based enterprise data management service. Google has the plumbing. Its patent documents reveal nifty technology to allow an enterprise to “hook” into the Google infrastructure to use Google services to crunch data. Google has the next generation data management tools that many organizations need at a time when data volume threatens to choke existing database systems. Frankly, I’m not sure.

Here are my thoughts about this surprising Amazon move:

  1. Google either has to take action to position itself against Amazon, a company defining the cloud service space for some developers, or be content to be a follower. Google, in fact, may be acquiring some of Microsoft’s market methods, which may be both good and bad.
  2. Amazon has to make the Oracle service work. Cooking up an S3 or EC2 is one thing. Delivering Oracle services is another. Amazon has a spotty record with regard to stability and uptime. A flop might open the door for a competitor to supplant Amazon. Google could exploit such an Amazon stumble, but the company seems to have a fuzzier view of the enterprise market and may not be able to act quickly with regard to Amazon.
  3. The Amazon aggressiveness might force Google to buy Salesforce.com, deal with the programming issues, and use Salesforce.com’s marketing position as a launch pad in an attempt to wrest momentum from Amazon.

You can read a different take on this Amazon development in Larry Dignan’s “Amazon Adds Oracle Support to EC2″ here.

What’s clear to me is that Amazon has raised the stakes for Google in cloud computing services.

Stephen Arnold, September 23, 2008

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