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Oracle takes aim at hyperscalers, eyes VMware workloads

Oracle claims it is addressing the limitations of competing services by offering better security controls, consolidated billing and global availability

Oracle is the latest cloud supplier to join the ranks of hyperscale cloud providers that have been going after VMware workloads.

First announced at Oracle OpenWorld last year, the new offering, dubbed Oracle Cloud VMware Solution, provides a dedicated, cloud-native VMware-based environment for enterprises to move their production VMware workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Chris Chelliah, Oracle’s vice-president for customer strategy, insight and business development in Asia-Pacific, said the company’s VMware solution addresses the limitations of rival services offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

The first area is around control and security. Chelliah said Oracle does not have access to root credentials or metadata of its customers who will own their root credentials in a zero-trust environment.

At the same time, Oracle customers can decide when and whether to upgrade, while other cloud providers control and decide when and which updates, patches and upgrades to roll out for their VMware offerings. 

“Part of that control and security is also version compatibility and version constraints,” Chelliah said, adding that other cloud providers typically offer a managed service with tight constraints around software versions that could inhibit cloud migration efforts.

The second limitation that Oracle hopes to address is the limited availability of competing VMware offerings by the top three cloud suppliers.

For example, VMware Cloud on AWS is available in 17 out of 24 cloud regions, while Oracle Cloud VMware Solution is available through all 25 OCI cloud regions.

“When you go from on-premise to the cloud, physical proximity becomes an issue,” Chelliah said. “And since it’s a native service of OCI, it’s available on day one in all of our commercial regions.”

Thirdly, Chelliah said Oracle Cloud VMware Solution comes with a single point of support from Oracle, along with a consolidated bill. AWS’s offering, on the other hand, will be billed by both VMware and AWS for the use of their respective services.

“If we address these three things, we believe we can go back to our strategy which is to help customers move to the cloud and give them as much flexibility and all the benefits of cloud economics in terms of performance and cost savings,” Chelliah said.

“If you’re looking at a VMware console, it looks like it’s just part of the rest of your estate inside your datacentre. With no changes, patches or upgrades, you can start moving VMs just like it’s within your estate onto Oracle Cloud.”

David Bate, VMware’s vice-president for cloud in Asia-Pacific and Japan, said the company’s VMware Cloud Foundation stack can be run on OCI through the new offering, including its management tools.

He added: “Because it’s the exact same underlying infrastructure that runs on premise and in the cloud, it’s possible for our joint customers to enjoy the consistency of experience, tooling and skills between their on-premise and public cloud environments”.

For now, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution supports vSphere version 6. That means enterprises would not be able run the VMware Tanzu Kubernetes platform – that requires vSphere version 7 within the VMware Cloud Foundation – at launch.

Bate said Tanzu will be available on Oracle Cloud VMware Solution once Oracle supports a more recent version of vSphere.

Whether Oracle’s move to target VMware workloads will give rival cloud suppliers a run for their money remains to be seen. Public cloud services can be particularly “sticky” for enterprises that have come to rely on specific cloud platform services such as machine learning and analytics from their cloud supplier.

Chelliah said Oracle eyeing segments of the VMware customer base that have strict control and security requirements and would like the consolidated billing and cloud footprint that it offers.

“They could be looking to use some of our services, like our autonomous database or HPC [high performance computing] offerings, given the momentum we’ve been having with HPC hyperscale compute,” he added.

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