Oracle Pitches Federal CIOs Secure Cloud Services

Oracle is working to position itself as a leading cloud service provider to federal government clients tasked with major IT initiatives that include moving to the cloud with tight or declining budgets.

WASHINGTON -- With federal IT budgets facing sharp downward pressure while agencies work under a directive to move the cloud, Oracle sees an opportunity in the government sector, particularly now that it is positioning itself as a leading cloud provider.

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In a keynote address here at a government IT conference, Peter Doolan, group vice president and chief technologist at Oracle Public Software, suggested that the service-oriented model that Oracle is now trying to bring to its database offerings could resonate with federal clients who are being asked to undertake major IT initiatives while seeing their budgets flatline or decline.

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"For many of our customers the new up is down," Doolan said. "The idea that I will do business as usual in the IT industry, if someone says that to you then they're really on something illegal."

Oracle's pitch to federal clients positions its services as enterprise-grade with a market-leading portfolio of business applications and new social functions such as marketing, engagement and monitoring, and collaborative networking.

When government IT managers evaluate their cloud-computing options, they have to weigh the merits of a public, private or hybrid environment. And while a consensus seems to be emerging that non-sensitive information may be suited for a public cloud and classified information should never go beyond a private cloud (if it is to reside in a cloud at all), there is a vast middle ground with data assets that are far more ambiguous.

Oracle's response is to offer customers the option of hosting applications in its own data center on the Oracle cloud, or on a managed private cloud that would reside in the customer's data center behind the firewall -- or a mixture with applications split between the two environments, depending on the particular security requirements.

Oracle's new cloud is also an effort by the company to consolidate a suite of cloud-related applications under its own brand, including its software, platform and infrastructure offerings, all of which it plans to offer as a service.

"We have to change the way we do IT," Doolan said. "Instead of having a storage organization, a networking organization, a compute-fabric organization, [and a] sprinkling of DBAs and folks on top. We have to change the architecture. What would happen if I did that in the self-service, cloud-database environment?"

Oracle envisions a holistic cloud offering eliminating the multiple vendors that are commonly involved in cloud deployments today, a streamlining that should translate into lower costs for customers, which might particularly resonate with federal CIOs.

Oracle's cloud stack includes a full complement of business process applications, including budgeting, financial reporting and planning, as well as human-resources tasks such as payroll and recruiting.

Doolan also stressed that Oracle's cloud software would continue to support the company's existing applications as long as they remain in use, such as PeopleSoft, Siebel and the E-Business Suite.

"It's not just the new stuff. It has to work with the old stuff," he said.

Oracle's latest efforts in the cloud, announced at the company's recent OpenWorld conference with the promise of a fourfold performance increase, also come as a bid to remain relevant in the fast-evolving IT sector, Doolan acknowledged.

"If we don't bring to market those kinds of economies of scale with these systems, we are going to be relegated to the Compaq/Tandem/Wang/DEC history of our industry very, very quickly, so that keeps us awake at night," he said.

In vying for government cloud business, Oracle is pushing deeper into a crowded market where big firms like Amazon, Salesforce, Google and Microsoft are all competing for share.

Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.

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