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Oracle’s Cloud at Customer strategy. (Oracle Photo)

Customers running Oracle’s hybrid cloud setup will now be able to run a variety of its services within their data centers — not just the compute part — through an expansion of the Oracle Cloud at Customer program.

Everyone’s favorite enterprise computing punching bag plans to announce the expansion Wednesday, delivering platform-as-a-service capabilities like Oracle’s database software and application development environment as well as software-as-a-service capabilities like ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer-relationship management) services to companies that need to store and process data in their own facilities but want someone else to manage it for them. This is basically a cloud subscription service in which Oracle owns the hardware and is responsible for managing it inside a customer’s data center, said Nirav Mehta, vice president of product management at Oracle.

The notion of running a cloud software service inside your own data center is the kind of corporate marketing doublespeak that can make your head hurt. But there are lots of companies that have no choice but to run workloads in their own data centers for legal or compliance reasons, Mehta said, and they recognize the value of having somebody else manage those workloads for them.

Oracle Cloud at Customer has been offering infrastructure services to these types of customers for a while, setting up Oracle hardware inside a customer’s data center and managing everything in exchange for a monthly bill, Mehta said.

“It can be a public cloud even if it’s running in your data center,” he said. That’s a definition Amazon Web Services executives might quibble with, but it does speak to a desire among large enterprise companies to tap into some of the benefits of modern cloud computing despite facing regulatory challenges that make it tricky for them to embrace the public cloud wholesale.

Oracle’s cloud business has a long way to go before it truly threatens the big players in this market. In fact, Oracle is one of the most frequently cited reasons why companies actually should move to the cloud, judging by the talking points of the big cloud vendors.

But like IBM, Oracle has deep pockets and established relationships with big companies. And unlike IBM, overall revenue is actually growing, albeit slowly.

For years cloud computing advocates insisted everyone would eventually be running their workloads inside public clouds. That approach works extremely well for an awful lot of companies, and it’s hard to see why any new fledgling venture would try and build its own infrastructure in 2017.

But it’s a lot more complicated for big established companies. And we’ve seen both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services acknowledge this complexity with products like Azure Stack and the rumored data center product AWS might be working on with VMware.

This is business Oracle needs to own if it wants to remain a relevant player in enterprise computing.

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