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'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'

Craig Matsumoto
1/28/2010

"I'm sure there'll be articles: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It,' " Larry Ellison said.

The Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) CEO was mumbling to himself between sentences of an anti-cloud rant. Ellison was on stage yesterday, closing out a five-hour strategy exposition for media, analysts, customers, and partners, in which Oracle described what it's going to do after the pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. (See Oracle/Sun Expresses Telco Ambitions.) (Light Reading wasn't there, but we caught the Webcast.)

Ellison took questions that gravitated toward light topics -- his America's Cup bid, his attempt to buy the Golden State Warriors (they're a basketball team, theoretically), whether he's going to run for public office (no). Inevitably, cloud computing came up. And Ellison, known for being, er... passionate about certain topics, got revved up.

"We already run our applications for our customers. We've been doing that for about 15 years, so we've been in cloud computing for at least 15 years. As far as I can tell, cloud computing dates back to the first ENIAC, built during World War II. Anyway, the 'cloud' name just drives me crazy. It really does," he said.

He went on to point out that Oracle is already in cloud computing, as its database and middleware are being used by Salesforce.com Inc. and countless other cloud-related businesses.

"Now that we have this new name, 'cloud,' will we suddenly become unprofitable because of the word 'cloud?' Or should we change our business model? The only thing that's new is the word. We've been doing this for a very, very long time."

At this point, the audience -- many of whom probably agreed with Ellison -- giggled quietly and a little uncomfortably. And he kept going:

"If there's something else in the cloud that I'm missing, would someone tell me? If I don't get it, I'd like to know now and quickly change... Please, someone, tell me now. Seriously!"

On the Webcast, the cameras switched to the audience at this point. Lots of people smiled, but none volunteered an answer.

Actually, you could argue the cloud does offer something more, in virtualization. Servers are being made generic, able to run arbitrary applications, and storage can be spread out more widely, geographically, than it used to be.

But Ellison has a point that "cloud" tends to be overused. "Now, data centers are feeling bad that they weren't in cloud computing, so they rename their data center a 'private cloud'. "

Ellison eventually 'fessed up that the world has changed due to Internet connectivity. He's just irked that "cloud" gets the credit for some very old ideas. Gmail, for example, gets cited as a "cloud" application even though Hotmail did the same thing about 10 years ago.

And don't forget that Ellison himself, back in Hotmail's day, tried to pioneer something related to the cloud: the network computer. It would have been like a netbook but without personal storage; all applications were to run somewhere in the network.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 4:44:02 PM
re: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'


If it's online, you should watch the Ellison Q&A.  Such fawning fanboyism from the audience, even from analysts ... is every Ellison press conference like that?

David Dines
David Dines
12/5/2012 | 4:43:56 PM
re: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'




Interesting post.

I do not count me as an Ellison fan in the least, though I share some of his frustration about the hype cycle around cloud computing. First, it seems that there as many definitions of what it means as there are press and analysts covering the space.  I am also skeptical of all of the sub categories that slice it into indistinguishable parts.  I doubt that the customers put such a fine point on the differences, they are trying to solve a business problem and are looking for the cost effective solution.  Finally, much of what has been written about cloud computing focuses on the technical merits or how to deploy, and less so on the business case.  The business case is essentially an outsourcing argument - why buy and maintain something that is not core to your business that you can get reliably as a service elsewhere.  I think Ellison was reacting to those arguments – and he is right – if you distill cloud computing down to its fundamental business case, it is as old as the first mainframes.  




Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 4:43:46 PM
re: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'


Great post.  Yes, even though there's new technology related to "cloud," the base business case is as old as the hills, isn't it.


Regarding subcategories, I wonder about the number of "aaS" suffixes coming out: Platform as a Service (Paas), Infrastructure aaS... they're not going to stop until they've used every letter of the alphabet "aas".


Lee Gomes of Forbes (ex-SJ Mercury & WSJ) has a column calling for the death of the term "cloud computing" -- http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/31/internet-google-salesforce-business-intelligence-cloud-computing.html .  (thanks to Jeff Baumgartner for pointing that one out.)

bollocks187
bollocks187
12/5/2012 | 4:43:45 PM
re: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'
A new French term for Larry's Cloud Computing solution would be

"PASSE" - Platform Application Secure Service Environment"

I have trademark and web site on this soon - lol
brtechy
brtechy
12/5/2012 | 4:43:40 PM
re: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'


Great post indeed, but... in as much as Ellison is mad about all of the visibility and hype the new Cloud fad is receiving, there are some considerable differences, and he knows it...


Ellison launched his own hype with the Network Computer way back then, in part because he believed in the possibility of the Network is the Computer (wait a minute, wasn't that Sun's tagline? interesting...), but in part because he desperately wanted to attract attention to Oracle, which was already very successful in what it did, but received little credit and visionary recognition in comparison to MSoft and other SW companies. He suceeded in getting the press attention, became a key advocate of the networked vision, but the NC flunked badly, because the technology (especially "The Cloud") was not ready. Cheap processing power deemed the NC's value prop empty, and the lack of a better network capacity, and of Data Center's equipped with the massive communications capability and configuration flexibility played a large part on it.


Yes, Oracle has been playing in the "Cloud" space since then, and I suspect what he hates is not the  "Cloud" denomination, but that his company is not at the helm of creating and capitalizing on the hype word when it seems it gained traction with media, press and many companies looking for recognition and differentiation in a crowded space (be it service providers, hardware or software vendors). I laughed recently when I saw a prime time TV ad of a former web hosting company announcing their cloud services, with a real cloud and sky animations and celebrity actors included - and that gives you a measure of where does hype go (and for the record, I am not in the US).


Now fast forward to ultra broadband and virtualization times, and these two things are exactly what we did not have back then, with talks of badnwidth hungry apps hosted and of virtual servers mushrooming in a nice, controllable and less expensive architecture.


As for the comment about the DataCenters, we frequently have businesses whose time did not come yet or where timing was off. My impression is that now DCs will indeed gain more relevance given virtualization and real broadband, with consistent performance, and some investments from the past will finally be able to pay out when you merge a DC and a communications strategy. But Oracle does not need to worry  - they are part of it already... BTW, did they just buy a hardware company? Which company was that again? :-)


Rgds,


brtechy

lchowdhary
lchowdhary
12/5/2012 | 4:43:30 PM
re: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'


Larry Ellison and Steve Balmer are the last 2 Samurai of the Software as a License era, they aren't going down without a fight!


Lalit


http://goo.gl/Ms42

newday3000
newday3000
12/5/2012 | 4:43:29 PM
re: 'Larry Ellison Just Doesn't Get It'


Anyone remember the IDC (Internet Data Center) of the 1999-2001 time frame.  The concept get's renamed every 10 years

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