I Joined Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure Team: Here’s Why

January 17, 2018 Steve Lerner

I’ve joined Oracle! The group is the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) team, and I’m helping bring the rapidly growing suite of cloud infra services to market. Many people have asked “why,” and I hope my answers will help give insight not only into Oracle but into the industry itself.

The end of September was my start date, but it’s been such a whirlwind of events and travel that I’m only now, in January 2018, sitting down to reflect on the onboarding experience and the industry. Since starting I’ve been to Oracle OpenWorld, KubeCon, an OCI customer advisory board meeting, and an Oracle Global Sales Engineering summit… whew!

So here we go with the questions and answers:

Why cloud?

Because cloud is the future of internet infrastructure – and has only barely started its evolution

The truth is that shared infrastructure like cloud has been around a very long time. My friends and I were using text-only social media on the public internet in the 1980s at the University of California and having all the same party planning, political debates, and chat that goes on today, yet we used text terminals before web browsers existed! See example below:

But the full potential of what can be built on is just starting to be realized now that cloud architecture fundamentals are available. Massive projects can be spun up and spun down without capital costs, access to processor-intensive horsepower and the associated frameworks that make it possible are now available to the masses, and globally performant, yet high available infrastructure is now available to everyone.

For me the biggest and most interesting challenge is the migration of infrastructure from legacy/owned capex centric deployments to distributed/cloud opex centric deployments. Cloud enables far greater features, elasticity, and scale than capex-centric owned equipment- but comes with a price of potential complexity, runaway costs, and scope creep. Hence building elegant cloud operations that unlock scale and flexibility which owned equipment cannot reach while keeping costs predictable is the challenge to tackle!

This isn’t the first time I’ve been involved with new technology. From the first generation of digital audio networks in music studios at Sonic Solutions in 1993 (IPO) to the early CDN at Speedera Networks in 1999 (acquired by Akamai) to deploying CDN and containerized performance systems at eBay, I’ve always enjoyed staying ahead of the curve.

Cloud is indeed ahead of the curve. Gartner estimates the 2017 infrastructure-as-a-service market to be $34.6B (https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3616417). Big! But this is only a tiny fraction of the $3.7T total annual spend on (https://www.gartner.com/technology/research/it-spending-forecast) information technology. Cloud is only at the very beginning of its evolution.

Even though I’ve managed countless data center deployments throughout my career, I can now say that the world is ready for most businesses to exit the bulk of their data center operations and move to a multivendor public cloud solution.

Why Oracle?

Because Oracle is one of the top technology providers in the world and “gets it” about cloud  

Oracle is 100 percent “all-in on cloud” and being part of a world-class company that is self-aware and engages in transformation is a rare opportunity.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is a cutting edge public cloud platform with new and better features arriving almost daily. Oracle’s other “as-a-service” based business products like Platform, Database, etc complement the foundational tech infrastructure offering, making it a great end-to-end solution. Oracle advocates open source software like our FN serverless platform (https://github.com/fnproject/fn), and I’ve always been a strong supporter of open source technology and have actively been using software like Apache (http://www.apache.org) web server, traffic server, and many others since they began.

Only a very large-scale engineering firm like Oracle can properly offer a public cloud service – yet Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is very much a startup within the larger organization. And in my view, startups have always brought out the best in a work environment.

Yes, I said it: I joined a startup again- albeit one with Fortune 100 resources and brand behind it. I’ve found in my first few months that Oracle people are great… everyone is focused on customer success, and it is really good to be back in a B2B customer-facing environment after spending many years focusing on internal engineering.

Give OCI a try

And try other Oracle tech!

I’m not a database administrator so why join a “database company?” Oracle is far more than a database company… we are a Fortune 100 provider of a broad array of technologies that has many “geeky” products I love, like VirtualBox, which I’ve run for years since it gives me the ability to have “Ubuntu In A Window” consistently across any desktop operating system. Check out my Windows 10 desktop with Ubuntu in a window below!

But AWS is the market leader!

Sure- but technology is always a multi-vendor story 

AWS is a leader and pioneer. But anyone who has been in this business knows that there is never only a single vendor in a market- especially a market as large and diverse as internet infrastructure. There are myriad telcos, data center companies, and every other part of the internet ecosystem; i.e., even in a specialized area like chip design where Intel is “the market leader,” there are ARM, ASIC, GPU, and many other chip makers enjoying great success.

In the case of cloud, multiple vendors are not just present, but essential. Any proper infrastructure strategy will be a multivendor one for the purpose of reliability, security, performance, and cost. New applications of virtual infrastructure ( i.e., containers) will make the multivendor story even stronger, so working for a top company’s cloud team is a great place to be as the industry grows.

Was working on IOS or Android in 2005 when Windows had over 95 percent of the world’s computing platform market share a bad idea? Didn’t think so. I love the graphic below that shows how major technology platforms have ebbed and flowed over the last nearly forty years.

Commodore was market leader in 1982!

So what is the bottom line?

These are exciting times…

Cloud will completely transform infrastructure and platform technology and enable new possibilities never before imagined. Industry leaders like Oracle will take customers on a transformational journey that will improve productivity and add new functionality thanks to removing most of the need to own and manage physical infrastructure…and instead add the ability to manage infrastructure as code. Open source frameworks will arrive to allow everyone to contribute to the development of cloud. Entire data center campuses spun up and down via code. 

Sounds great! Can I join too?

Oracle has many opportunities! 

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