What the Hell Is the Oracle Document Cloud

Yesterday, I got wind of Oracles announcement of its “Oracle Document Cloud”.  According to this Mythics post , it shares roughly 90% of the code base of Oracle WebCenter Content.  Considering that code base is very old and not for a multi tenant cloud based system, that’s a pretty scary thought.  Does this mean that the bugs you experience with your local version you also get to enjoy that in the cloud? Yeah!

I guess that both Oracle and Larry Ellison still do not get the cloud. It reminded me of a rant by him on cloud computing in 2008 that I had to look up, and listen to again. Here it is!

I must admit that after listening to it, I would say  ”well said”,  on most of it.  For example ,the part regarding the fact that everyone in the computer industry just renamed all these things “cloud” and its quite impossible to understand what anyone really means by it. He also says that they are going to come up with some “cloud” marketed software because “if orange is the new pink we will make orange blouses” (quite hilarious actually)!

Though I don’t know Larry personally and don’t expect to have an actual conversation with him regarding the cloud, it does seem like maybe they still don’t view the cloud like I do, or even some of our customers do. One customer that shall remain nameless just converted some things to Salesforce cloud based stuff.  He said to me, “It’s just easier”, and “We don’t have to deal with our infrastructure team…. can just get things done”.

That made me chuckle, as I was coming off a large project and the amount of time and energy that just went into building out the infrastructure and fixing bugs, patching etc. was amazingly high.  I would say close to 50% of the project budget went to such activities not allowing us to focus on solving the business problems at hand.

So now 6 years later after Larry’s rant on the cloud (2008), we see the “Oracle Document Cloud” funny but that seems like a long time to re-use 90% of the code to come up with something. Grant it, there will be cloud things up there from Oracle sooner, but not sure anyone uses them.

Here are a few other things:

  • Pricing $15/user/month.  Really?? So a fortune 1000 company with 10K seats (and that’s a cool 1.8 million per year), now that is funny (but coincidentally exactly = to Box enterprise 15/user/year). 
  • Oracle is a late mover, cloud based systems such as Google Apps, Box and Dropbox have been around a long time and these systems were engineered from the ground up as cloud based systems, not simply porting over code from some old legacy system.
  • Other cloud vendors such as SpringCM are adding lots of fresh features and integrations to cloud based systems such as Salesforce. I would expect more to come from them.
  • Integrations to on premise Oracle ECM not completed yet but planned,  Expect this in another 6 years.
  • Expect integration to other Oracle cloud apps in the future (with Oracle we are not sure what the future will be… maybe another 6 years)

Perhaps the most telling quote is from Larry himself.

I don’t understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing?

And they are true to form, they don’t seem to be doing anything differently. Oracle is not innovating here, its simply copying code and remarking it as cloud? Other vendors are way ahead of the game with apps engineered to be in the cloud, and ways to extend them that is simple and manageable.

There apparently is someway to customize this thing based on the marketing. As stated “Developer Platform for extending business applications with content collaboration”, though I have not been able to find out anything regarding how one would actually do this. I am not expecting anything innovative like Google Go or Salesforce APEX.

So someone, anyone, please tell me why on earth would you use this thing?  The way it looks to me its:

  • Expensive (or at least as expensive as Box that has been doing this for 6 or more years)
  • Not a leader in the space
  • Has no clear developer centric universal platform to extend the features and functions of the application.

And if this thing has Java based admin applets like Oracle WebCenter Content, that will certainly nail down my already low opinion of the Oracle Document Cloud. As one of my customers said about the admin applets, “That was cool technology in 1990″.

To be fair, I haven’t had the opportunity to give it a test drive yet.  Because unlike other cloud apps there is no free trial and or ability to buy a single user yet…. though it appears to be coming. But, so far, I don’t see any innovation yet.  At least you would avoid the long setup times for weblogic servers, databases, and integrating to several dependent services to make this thing work.

One glimmer of hope would be that if you ended up with many Oracle based cloud apps you could have some integrations to those products already in place.

There are a lot of great things about the Oracle WebCenter Content product this is based on, but I just don’t yet see how that translates into a great cloud solution. To me, a great cloud solution is simple, extendable, and includes enterprise integrations.  It also has a highly adopted developer community. Only time will tell if that develops out for Oracle. One missing feature in many cloud document services though is metadata. I am not sure how that plays out in this app, but it could be a huge differentiator.