Amazon has brought a fleet of major PeopleSoft and JD Edward applications to its Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service, following a promise in September to do so. The new services are certified by Oracle.
EC2 allows users to rent Amazon's computers on an hourly basis--either rent bare-bones configurations of an empty OS, or with additional software preinstalled (typically databases or Web servers).
Various renditions of the PeopleSoft customer relations management (CRM) programs are now available via EC2, along with JD Edward Enterprise One enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Also included in the rollout is Oracle's E-Business Suite.
The move into EC2 makes PeopleSoft software significantly more accessible for smaller and mid-size businesses, and is one of a variety of interesting moves by Amazon recently tearing down barriers blocking cloud adoption for smaller businesses.
For example, last week Amazon announced a tool that imports existing VMWare virtual disk images so they can be run in the cloud. At the moment only Windows Server 2008 SP2 is supported, but other operating systems will be added over time. Businesses can either use the import service as a contingency backup of existing virtualized infrastructure, or use it to transition to the cloud with the minimum of difficulty and reconfiguration.
No doubt PeopleSoft's venture into the cloud will be watched closely by Salesforce.com, which currently dominates the CRM market and has always been cloud-based.
All the new cloud offerings are available as preconfigured Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), which come ready-made for instant activation, although in the future customers will able to create their own personalized versions of the installations and upload them to EC2.
The hourly rent for the new images fall in the high-memory instance category, with the cost ranging between 50 cents and $2 depending on the customer's needs, although there's no need to pay when the machines are shut down or suspended overnight.
Customers can use existing Oracle licenses for EC2 instances of the software, effectively giving IT managers the choice of local or cloud installations for the same fee. There's also no need to pay for additional support; customers of Oracle Support or Amazon Premium Support can get the help they need.
The benefits of using PeopleSoft on EC2 are multiple. Setting up a new installation is now both instant and cost-free, with no need to purchase hardware or even have specialized knowledge. A cloud-based approach means that any deployment will be accessible from anywhere in the world with high reliability. Future maintenance costs will be vastly reduced, too.
However, running CRM and ERP applications on EC2 is a little questionable, bearing in mind they're usually installed on the customer's on-premises servers and typically accessed by staff locally. Accessing the applications over a LAN is likely to be a lot quicker than accessing via a cloud service over the Internet.
That said, an EC2 instance of the applications might be useful for a highly decentralized organization, such as one where the majority of employees work from branch offices or from home.
It's always been possible to run PeopleSoft software on EC2 but only in an unofficial capacity as a do-it-yourself project. As such, until now Oracle has only recommended EC2 be used for development and testing, although Oracle Database, Enterprise Linux, WebLogic, and a variety of development tools have been officially available for some time.
The big difference now is that Oracle has certified PeopleSoft for use on EC2, opening up support options.
Oracle's Larry Ellison has traditionally taken a skeptical view of the cloud, branding it as just another computing fashion in 2008. However, that hasn't stopped the company making its own cloud offerings, such as the Exalogic Elastic Cloud, or even launching a roadshow that touted the utility of cloud computing. Just last week Oracle announced Cloud Office, an online office suite like Google Docs, although targeted at paying customers.
Keir Thomas has been writing about computing since the last century, and more recently has written several best-selling books. You can learn more about him at http://keirthomas.com and his Twitter feed is @keirthomas .