Takeaway: Ravello lets Oracle uses any underlying cloud but effectively hide that completely from the customer thus Oracle gets to “manage” any cloud, gives customers “any cloud” and yet maintain full control of the customer account by hiding the underlying services. But it was the networking features that really made Ravello unique.
Its fair to say that Oracle has earned its widespread scorn and disrespect among a large section of the IT community. But buying Ravello is a reasonably smart move:
- Oracle needs an Enterprise networking strategy. ACME Packet is service provider focussed and mostly on voice gateways. The Enterprise DC LAN strategy mostly relies on Infiniband within the Engineered Systems platforms.
- Shareholders want some public cloud-ness Oracle has made a few lukewarm steps towards building a public cloud platform. I see this as a response to shareholder demands, competitive pressure from IBM, and prevent customers from ignoring Oracle sales reps completely.
- Infiniband is LAN only. Its acquisition of Xsigo several years ago combined with the existing Infiniband products from Sun to provide a data centre LAN strategy that neatly avoided a partnership with Cisco (as EMC did with VCE).
- Public Cloud has serious problems for enterprise Moving services from legacy infrastructure platforms to cloud platforms is enormously difficult technical problem. This also means serious revenue for Oracle consultants.
What Ravello Brings
I see Ravello as a software defined networking solution that does some virtual machine orchestration. Its easy to underestimate the functions of Ravello’s product. At some point during the product development, Ravello realised that competing with Cisco ACI/VMware NSX with their huge incumbent customer base and vast marketing budgets would be a very hard path to cashflow. Instead they focussed on specific use case for SDN, enterprise testing environments in the public cloud. The clever part was to identify and leverage an untapped demand for training labs for vendor certifications. This would create short term revenue and act as a gateway to longer term adoption.
Ravello and Hybrid Clouds
- Public and Private Cloud Provisioning Ravello was able to provision networking and VMS in AWS public cloud.
- IaaS provisioning Able to provision IaaS virtual machines from existing images. Also able to import VMs and migrate VMs. This was done using nested VMs.
- Networking Overlay a full function network overlay to isolate the IaaS away from the underlying cloud infrastructure.
- Operational Interface more important, Ravello had an interface that makes sense to an enterprise-centric engineer.
This last item is the one that might suit Oracle’s style of “All Oracle All the Time”. The Ravello interface lets Oracle uses any underlying cloud but effectively hide that completely from the customer thus Oracle gets to “manage” any cloud, gives customers “any cloud” and yet maintain full control of the customer account by hiding the underlying services.
The EtherealMind View
From my view, the VM orchestration is something that Oracle has, or could easily adapt from its existing portfolio. What Ravello had is a networking solution that allowed customers to extend from their existing data centres into Oracles cloud in a low friction way. Thats hard to do and much harder to do well. So rumours of a $400MM sale price are probably well founded.