Partners Ponder Strategies As Oracle Moves Further Into Cloud

Channel partners are eyeing Oracle's Wednesday announced Nimbula acquisition as a sign of the times as the popularity of the cloud continues to heat up and various vendors jockey for position.

"These are interesting times," said John DeSarbo, principal at ZS Associates, a sales consultancy with offices on three continents. "It seems like each week we hear of another deal related to cloud services, and the channel needs to figure out which manufacturers are going to position themselves as service providers and which are going to position themselves as suppliers to service providers."

Oracle on Wednesday issued an extremely brief statement announcing its intent to purchase Mountain View, Calif.-based Nimbula, Inc., which has positioned itself as a cloud operating system company specializing in infrastructure-as-a-service software for the development of private, hybrid or public clouds. Nimbula Director, the company's flagship product, is used to support software development and testing, SaaS hosting, batch processing, Hadoop deployments and related functionalities. Last year, Nimbula joined the OpenStack community to help further its market penetration.

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"Oracle is a longtime player in the software space, and I think they are selling their commitment to cloud more than ever by investing in a lot of these SaaS and cloud-based software companies," said Jeremy DeSpain, COO of Explore Consulting in Bellevue, Washington. "And this announcement shows them moving into the backend infrastructure component. The market is clearly strong. Our phones are ringing off the hook from folks saying can you please manage my data for me?"

According to a prepared statement from Oracle, "Nimbula's technology helps companies manage infrastructure resources to deliver service, quality and availability, as well as workloads in private and hybrid cloud environments. Nimbula's product is complementary to Oracle and is expected to be integrated with Oracle's cloud offerings. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2013."

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But, at least one channel partner doubts whether the private cloud alternative has strong business potential over the long haul.

"The cloud sector is super-hot right now," said Tony Safoian, president of SADA Systems, a North Hollywood, Calif.-based channel partner. "So people are making a lot of acquisitions aimed at solidifying their position as key players. We're big proponents of public cloud. We think the private cloud is a stopgap for the medium-term of maybe 10 to 15 years. But, we are much more interested in developing services and technologies in the public cloud because that's where we ultimately think things are going. When it comes to the cloud, Oracle is way behind in the cloud evolution."

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. An Oracle spokesperson declined further comment, but the blogger sphere clearly expects that the technology will be integrated into the Oracle Private Cloud initiative, which was announced last year as a logical extension of the company's publicly hosted cloud service. Within such an environment, customers are enabled to both choose which cloud they prefer their data to reside and leverage the public cloud for backup and disaster recovery, if so desired.

"Consolidation and increased competition are to be expected at this point in the maturing cycle, so this comes as no surprise," said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westborough, Mass.-based cloud integrator. "There's not much you can do to navigate around it from a channel point of view. We just have to wait and see what they do with the product lines and make decisions based on what is good for the customer base. We always need to have a plan B in place and, if possible, a plan C."

Nimbula was co-founded by Chris Pinkham and other members of the team that developed the Amazon EC2 service.