Oracle expands Cloud at Customer service to SaaS applications

Oracle is expanding the range of cloud services it can offer customers to run in their own data centres via its Cloud at Customer service.

The service, which is a year old, is designed for customers who want to access some of the benefits of public cloud computing, but without moving their data out from behind their own firewall.

Customers with acute data privacy or residency concerns are the target market here, and Oracle says it has had good adoption from public sector customers, including within the UK government. Multinational financial services firms have also adopted some Cloud at Customer services. Bank of America and AT&T are two customers willing to be named.

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Speaking on the phone ahead of the announcement Nirav Mehta, VP of product management at Oracle said that customers will get the same run releases as those using public cloud. He describes the service as if "Oracle Cloud stretched from our data centre to the customer, so the same stack but all the data lives at the customer site".

Cloud at Customer started with infrastructure and platform services, such as database, big data and app development. Now it has been expanded for more platform services and includes software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM) for the first time.

"We now support SaaS and have ensured the buying experience is as simple as buying 500 seats of ERP software and all the underlying complexity is hidden from the customer," Mehta said. "We go in to size, build, ship, deploy and manage the software, so we go in for a turnkey deployment."

Oracle reports Cloud at Customer as part of its overall cloud revenue, which is on the up following a strong Q4 showing back in June. The Redwood-based company posted a 66 percent year-on-year growth in cloud revenues, which is $1.4 billion and includes PaaS, IaaS and SaaS.

What is Oracle Cloud at Customer?

Oracle claims it effectively replicates a public cloud experience for customers in their own data centres. Oracle provides converged Oracle hardware, software-defined storage and management services to run applications for customers. The company simply asks for data centre floor space, networking and power, before implementing everything on premise.

Oracle then manages the cloud services, giving customers the sort of abstraction they would expect from a public cloud service, and bills for the service in the same way it would with public cloud. The only difference is that Oracle asks customers to sign a longer term deal -- three to four years minimum -- to account for the capital expenditure involved with shipping and installing dedicated hardware.

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Mehta calls Cloud at Customer a "stepping stone to the public cloud, which will be the same platform with no need to rewire" the applications once they feel ready to move out of their own premises.

When it comes to rival 'hybrid' solutions Mehta said Oracle didn't see anyone else in the market giving customers exactly what they need. "We've seen a variety of approaches to cloud-like simplicity at premises, and they range from hardware vendors with some IaaS on top and software vendors delivering cloud stacks that are cloud-like but need third party hardware or services.

"We feel strongly that you shouldn't have to resort to a variety of vendors and disjointed solutions," he said.

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