Ellison Announces 'one Big, Honkin' Cloud'

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison unveiled his company's entry into the private cloud computing system battles on Sunday, upping the competitive stakes between Oracle and rivals like IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison unveiled his company's entry into the private cloud computing system battles on Sunday, upping the competitive stakes between Oracle and rivals like IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

He showcased the Exalogic Elastic Cloud, a system containing 30 servers, each loaded with two six-core processors for a total of 360 processor cores. They are interconnected with each other and storage via Infiniband connections. The systems support both Solaris and Linux guest OSes and include all the middleware customers need to run applications, and he said.

More Exalogic machines can be strung together for additional power as required, Ellison said.

All told, Exalogic is "one big, honkin' cloud," he said. A single setup is capable of handling 1 million HTTP requests per second; two running side-by-side could handle Facebook's HTTP request workload, according to Ellison. "These are stunning numbers."

Ellison sought to provide an Oracle-approved definition of cloud computing in a preamble to the Exalogic announcement.

"People use the term to mean very different things. I’ve actually been very frustrated and outspoken," he said, referring obliquely to mocking public remarks he has made. Too many existing technologies have been “reborn and rebranded cloud computing," he said.

Meanwhile, two well-known examples of cloud computing represent opposite spectrums, he said.

Services like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), similar to Exalogic, allow users to run applications on top of an virtualized pool of infrastructure that can shift resources in response to demand.

"That’s what really gave rise to the term cloud computing. It’s elastic, it’s virtual, and you only pay for what you use," Ellison said.

In contrast, a company such as on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) vendor Salesforce.com "are really one or two applications on the Internet," he said. "They do have a bit of a platform ... for doing little add-ons to their applications."

"Needless to say, Oracle agrees with Amazon.com," Ellison said. Oracle believes cloud-computing “is a platform. ... on which you run standards-based software. … It’s a comprehensive development and execution environment that can run all your applications." The one twist is that unlike public services like EC2, Exalogic is meant to run behind the firewall.

Exalogic will run every type of application, including Oracle's own Siebel, E-Business Suite and upcoming Fusion Applications, he said.

Customers who question why they would need such awesome firepower should consider Exalogic as an ideal platform for application consolidation, Ellison said.

Exalogic follows the earlier release of the Exadata database machine in 2008, and ties generally into Oracle's vision of selling customers integrated systems that combine its software with the hardware gained from the acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Ellison's presentation immediately followed a keynote by Hewlett-Packard executives, who unveiled plans for a number of specialized private cloud products fine-tuned for running Oracle software.

The respective keynotes and product launches illustrate that Oracle and Hewlett-Packard's partnership may be intact for now despite some recent public tensions, but so is the fact that the vendors are locked in increasingly stiff competition with each other.

Former HP CEO Mark Hurd left the company last month after a scandal involving his relationship with a contractor and the alleged falsification of expense reports.

HP followed up by suing Hurd, arguing that he will not be able to perform his job at Oracle without violating a confidentiality agreement tied to his severance package. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has called the suit vindictive and suggested it places the companies' partnership in jeopardy.

HP executive Ann Livermore, for one, made no similar remarks on Sunday. "I think that the numbers tell the story" about the companies' partnership, said Livermore, executive vice president of HP's enterprise business division. "We have 140,000 joint customers."

However, that relationship will be further tested as Hurd sets to work selling Oracle's Exadata and Exalogic machines.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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