Oracle's Ellison: Amazon Is Cloud Computing, Ain't

In a preface to introducing Oracle's new Exalogic Elastic Cloud server, Ellison, in his opening keynote to the Oracle OpenWorld show Sunday, attempted to define cloud computing. Ellison has been outspoken in his belief that the term "cloud computing" is a widely abused phrase that's ill-defined and applied to a broad range of information technology.

"People use the term 'cloud computing' to mean many different things," Ellison said. "I find it confusing -- I think a lot of people find it confusing. Is it rebranding, rebirth or true innovation?"

Ellison said the term is sometimes applied to specific applications and other times to platforms. That led to a comparison of and Amazon's EC2.

"Amazon is the company that really popularized the term 'cloud computing,'" he said. EC2 is a platform for application development and execution, he said, is elastic in that capacity can be added when needed, and is virtualized.

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Salesforce, which bills itself as the cloud computing company, "is really only one or two applications that run on the Internet," Ellison said. While Salesforce offers the development environment for building cloud computing applications, Ellison dismissed it as a proprietary system "for doing little add-ons or little interfaces to Salesforce's applications. But it's really not a platform."

He went on to say that Salesforce is "not elastic" and has "a very weak security model." And while cloud computing generally means paying for resources on an as-needed basis, he said Salesforce bills according to the number of users, not the amount of usage.

Overall, Ellison concluded, Amazon EC2 is cloud computing, Salesforce is not.

That's won't go over well with Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, an ex-Oracle executive who touts his company as the cloud computing leader. Benioff is slated to speak at Oracle OpenWorld on Wednesday, albeit in the Novellus Theater in Yerba Buena Park and not the Moscone Center where much of OpenWorld is being held.

Ellison said Oracle's Exalogic system, which is designed to serve as a cloud computing platform or what Ellison called a "cloud in a box," follows the same philosophy as Amazon's EC2 service, although it can be used for building public or private cloud systems.