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Oracle Settles into Docker Ecosystem with StackEngine Purchase

Dec 23rd, 2015 9:57am by
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Oracle’s purchase of StackEngine shows how serious the company its getting about its own cloud services, as providing more IT automation tools for its enterprise customers.

StackEngine’s “development of an operational/management layer for Docker containers is likely to provide tangible benefits for Oracle’s cloud services, a critical point as the company looks to develop market momentum,” pointed out Charles King, principal analyst for IT analysis firm Pund-IT, in an email.

Oracle announced the purchase of the Austin-based StackEngine in a message last week, which noted that “All StackEngine employees will be joining Oracle as part of Oracle Public Cloud.” The company did not disclose the purchase price though some media outlets estimated the deal at $1.3 million, based on SEC filing documents.

“Oracle’s pickup of StackEngine continues the deeper presence of large, established players in the automation and DevOps space,”  wrote 451 Research analyst Jay Lyman, in a research report on the acquisition. “In terms of public cloud, Oracle is still behind leaders such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, but the acquisition of StackEngine helps close the gap some.”

The purchase also puts a block on other cloud providers that may also need the technology. “Strategically, by acquiring [StackEngine], Oracle also ensured that none of its competitors could become potential buyers which they almost assuredly would have in time,” King wrote.

Peter Magnusson, who is the director Oracle’s cloud strategy, told Fortune magazine that the company was already “architecting a Docker management layer,” when the StackEngine opportunity, so the purchase allowed Oracle to “kill a few flies with one swat,” he said.

In the past year, Oracle has been ramping up its cloud offerings, concentrating on offering enterprises Oracle-based software and infrastructure services. To date, though, it does not offer container-based services, which competitors Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM Bluemix, already provide.

The company has slowly becoming more active in the Docker arena, though. It joined the joined the Open Container Initiative in July.

StackEngine’s flagship software, the Container Application Center, gives administrators a centralized GUI to control the operations of Docker containers, including the abilities to assemble applications by pulling containers from a registry, run them on pre-defined resource pools, and have the software automatically scale them to meet usage demands. It is one of a number of tools released for this job, alongside  other container management technologies such as Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and Mesosphere.



“The fact that StackEngine manages traditional server images alongside containers was surely attractive to Oracle, which has an interest in supporting both for enterprise customers,” wrote 451 Research analyst Jay Lyman, in a research report on the acquisition. In part, this purchase was about acquiring the talent, conversant in the ways of Docker, as much as it was about the technology itself, Lyman wrote. Oracle also plans to expand the StackEngine team with new employees and even open an Austin branch.

Interestingly enough, Oracle has long had in-house container technology, Solaris Zones, which it acquired when it purchased Sun Microsystems in 2010. Docker has proved to be way more popular, however. “In the world of services provision, if you can’t offer customers what they want, it’s easy for them to find someone who will,” King wrote.

Oracle declined to comment for this article.

Docker and IBM are sponsors of The New Stack.

Feature Image: Pasul Tihuța, România, taken by Buzac Marius, via Unsplash.

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