Cloud computing is often portrayed as a panacea for dysfunctional IT systems. But the ugly truth is that cloud computing can create as many problems with IT infrastructure, systems management, security, application configuration and data access as it solves.
In a keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld Tuesday Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of software product development, made a pitch for Oracle's integrated hardware and software stack as a way to circumvent the problems that cloud computing can cause.
"What we at Oracle want to make you understand is, even as you move to cloud computing, you need to keep in mind very specific technology issues you need to address," Kurian said, adding that cloud computing is "a fundamental transformation of your data center architecture."
"We offer a number of unique capabilities through our products [and] we also offer a number of unique capabilities through our cloud services," he said.
While Kurian's session was an obvious promotion for Oracle's products, it also put the spotlight on what are the most problematic IT issues in cloud computing.
Enabling cloud computing has been a focus for Oracle as it has updated such software products as its business intelligence, enterprise performance management and identity management Fusion Middleware suites; the current release of its flagship database (Oracle Database 11g, Release 2); and the upcoming Fusion line of applications, Kurian said.
Cloud computing requires data center architecture that's "modern, virtualized and high performing," Kurian said. And it has to be able to deliver Software-as-a-Service applications. That led to a pitch for Oracle's Exadata X2-8 database server for consolidating system infrastructure and the Exalogic Elastic Cloud platform for consolidating cloud applications. Both products were announced earlier at the show.
Cloud computing also creates systems management headaches for IT administrators. "There's a lot of moving parts from a systems and software point of view," Kurian said. For that the executive pointed to new capabilities in the most recent release of Oracle Enterprise Manager.
Security, both protecting data and managing user access to cloud systems, is another problem area. "First of all, all of your data is in the cloud. So you need to make sure the data is protected from unauthorized users," Kurian said. The user half of that equation means being able to manage user identity and authorization for cloud systems. For those problems the vendor offers such products as Oracle Access Manager and Oracle Identity Analytics.
Providing users with access to information in the cloud and allowing them to work within cloud applications to modify business processes also can be a hurdle. Kurian said analytical and social collaboration capabilities built into Oracle Fusion Middleware provides a way for information workers to access, analyze and share information within cloud computing systems.
And companies that use Oracle's Fusion Middleware products have access to such tools as Fusion Composer to reconfigure applications and modify business processes within cloud computing environments.