In the Cloud, Beware the Sinking Ships

Most traditional enterprise providers keep getting the cloud wrong, so beware jumping onto their sinking cloud ships.

In its quest for a bigger piece of the cloud market, Oracle's new IaaS services put the company in more direct competition with Amazon Web Services and other public cloud providers.

By David Linthicum

Oracle's cloud offerings include storage, elastic compute, and container services. The idea is to lure AWS users over to the Oracle camp, or, more important, to keep Oracle database users from defecting to other public cloud providers that offer much cheaper database services.

Related: The Past and Future of Cloud Computing

Oracle is not alone in such defensive actions. Preventing customer defection to the cloud providers is now a huge thing with all big enterprise software providers. Many such providers had pushed back against public clouds as insecure follies. Now they have all changed their tunes. That's good.

However, what's not good is that they all have just decided to copy other cloud services, rather than do anything innovative. We're seeing clones of the Google, AWS, and Microsoft public clouds, but very little unique or new.

The path to cloud computing riches, when you're five years late to the party, is not to simply adopt the road maps of other public cloud providers. It's to come up with new and creative cloud services that don't yet exist. I suspect it's tough to get internal approval for the development of these services; when you can just copy services that you know to be successful, do so quickly -- and hope nobody notices.

But this supposedly low-risk copycat investment is actually high-risk. This tactic ensures that you'll become a commodity.

Related: What Is the "Cloud" and How Can it Help My Business?

My advice to enterprises looking at these new cloud services is: Don't buy them at any price. Chances are that they will go away in a few years when the large enterprise software companies learn that they can't make money with the me-too approach, as they fail to retain existing customers in the numbers they projected. Those me-too services will go away. In fact, we're already seeing it happen, as in Hewlett-Packard's jettisoning of its own public cloud last week.

Most of the big enterprise software vendors have approached the cloud all wrong. (Fortunately, a few have got it right.) And they're continue to get it wrong, just in new ways. Don't go down with their ships.