Oracle is addressing concerns from enterprises about storing data in the cloud with a novel solution: physically deploying a part of its public cloud on the customer's premises and allowing them to set policies that confine sensitive data to that infrastructure.
Available immediately, Oracle Cloud at Customer will involve Oracle engineers effectively installing a node forming part of Oracle's public cloud platform inside a customer's own data centre. This node, dubbed the Oracle Cloud Machine, is fully managed by Oracle as if it were a normal part of the firm's wider public cloud.
However, the customer is able to set policies governing which workloads are allowed to run on the wider Oracle Cloud Platform, and which must be confined to the Oracle Cloud Machine, giving them the reassurance that sensitive data remains on their premises.
Moreover, customers will not have to bear the cost of the Cloud Machine hardware upfront, but will pay as they go for the resources they use just as with the other public cloud services they consume, according to Oracle.
"What we are seeing from our enterprise customers is that everyone has been adopting the public cloud, but there are a few areas where a lot of companies have issues around legal compliance, privacy requirements, data residency issues, or some specific control needs," said Amit Zavery, senior vice president for Oracle cloud platforms.
Such customers are interested in the public cloud for the agility, flexibility and pay-as-you-go prices that it offers, but they are more prepared to migrate critical workloads to the cloud if they can get the same kind of advantages in their own data centre, according to Oracle.
"We're seeing a lot of interest in this service from many industries: financial services, telecoms, retail, manufacturing, public sector, government agencies, anyone who has issues around privacy or regulatory requirements," Zavery said.
The service involves Oracle consulting with interested customers to determine their requirements, after which Oracle will deploy a pre-configured Oracle Public Cloud Machine into their data centre.
This is an engineered system along the lines of Oracle's Exadata or Exalogic platforms, but running the same software components as Oracle's Public Cloud stack. It is designed to scale in units of a quarter, half or whole rack, and customers can request more infrastructure if their needs grow, according to Zavery.
"We provide all the services, all the management, all the backup and recovery, upgrades, patching, the entire management of this infrastructure at the customer site, so there won't be any difference. It will look the same and have the same kind of pricing model as on the public cloud," he said.
Oracle has previously claimed that its cloud is the only one to offer enterprise customers a comprehensive set of cloud services, covering IaaS, PaaS and SaaS applications, all in one unified platform, and customers will be able to access the full range of these services from their Cloud Machine, including Oracle and non-Oracle workloads.
At first glance, Oracle's offering resembles similar initiatives from vendors such as Microsoft with Azure Stack, currently in Technical Preview. This also puts a version of the public cloud stack into the customer's premises, but in Microsoft's case Azure Stack is designed to run on the customer's own infrastructure and is managed by the customer's IT team, making it a private IaaS cloud.
Zavery explained that, while Azure Stack will offer customers a private cloud that is compatible with the Azure public cloud, there is a danger that it will never be entirely in sync with what Microsoft runs itself.
"It's provided by third parties like Dell and HPE, so it's never going to be completely the same hardware and software as Microsoft has, and it will be up to the customer to retest and recertify every time you move workloads between Azure on the public cloud and Azure Stack," he said.
Oracle Cloud Machine configurations start with the Cloud Machine Model 288, which supports 288 Intel Xeon cores and 2TB of memory. Next is the Model 576 with 576 cores and 4TB memory, while the top configuration Model 1080 has 1,080 cores and 7.5TB memory.
Oracle announced earlier this year that it had upgraded its data centres in the UK to provide customers with the firm's full range of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings.
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