The cloud computing wars have forgotten the enterprise

At this week’s Oracle OpenWorld conference, Oracle chairman Larry Ellison announced his company’s new autonomous database product. However, Larry being Larry, he took several minutes to disparage Amazon Web Services, especially its Redshift database technology.

AWS dominates the cloud market. Now that Oracle is fully committed to gunning for the exploding cloud marketplace, AWS stands in Ellison’s crosshairs. As you might imagine, AWS took exception to his comments and decided to issue a public rebuke.

What was the mudslinging all about? Ellison stated that AWS’s cloud is not at all elastic, and he provided a use case for his argument, stating that Redshift can’t automatically scale up and down. AWS responded that what Ellison said is “factually incorrect” and that you can resize AWS clusters anytime you want.

I’m sure we’ll see many of these silly vendor disputes pop up over the next several years as the titans of the enterprise vendor marketplace fight over the cloud computing customers in their target markets. In fact, Ellison also played the same game at OpenWorld with Splunk, which also refuted his critiques. (Ellison just can’t help himself—you know, Larry being Larry.)

But behind Ellison’s competitive swipes is fear of Oracle losing its lucrative dominance, AWS is a technology provider that no one saw coming. Much like Tesla and Uber, AWS created the market it now dominates. It certainly dominates perceptions in the market, which seems more important these days. That makes AWS a target for the old guard, like Oracle.

What’s missing from the vendor bickering is advocacy for the enterprise. Rarely do I hear technology providers, traditional or new, describe use cases that solved real-life enterprise problems. Such a list would include data migration, security, and porting of old and poorly designed applications.

Enterprises need real tools and real technology, they want to stuff to work right away, and hey want examples to follow that prove things can work right away.

Instead, the larger cloud providers seem to focus on what’s shiny and new, such as machine learning, serverless, and containers, when the enterprises are just trying to make it to next year’s budget planning with enough migrated workloads to simply justify the use of cloud computing.

Yes, the pursuit and development of new technology led us to the cloud revolution. The failure to ensure the adoption of the cloud on a widespread basis will stop that revolution. History is littered with the ghosts of failed revolutions.

The message I’m getting from enterprises is that they want to focus on the fundamentals; getting data and applications placed in public clouds, and working well the first time. This means vendors need to focus on the daily grind, the mundane (but necessary) tasks that won’t find their way into an Ellison keynote.

Those tasks are more important for the cloud users who are actually trying to make this stuff work. Focus on them, please.


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