Oracle StackEngine Acquisition Part Of Expanding Cloud Strategy

After years of ridiculing the cloudOracle has been taking it a lot more seriously recently, and it quietly purchased StackEngine last Friday as part of an effort to boost its Platform as a Service offerings.

StackEngine, which is based in Austin, Texas had a very brief announcement on its website linking to It simply stated that the database giant had purchased the startup and all of StackEngine’s employees will be joining Oracle under the terms of the agreement.

StackEngine was founded just last year by a couple of industry veterans. In fact, it emerged from stealth in October, 2014 with a plan to operationalize Docker, the open source container system. While Docker has been a hot commodity for the last several years, StackEngine recognized that it lacked an administrative layer for IT pros to manage their containers.

Although it was possible to create this kind of administrative oversight with Chef or Puppet using scripts, StackEngine was hoping to provide a proper administrative console for Docker users that had been missing up to that point. The company had received $4.5 million over a couple of rounds of investment prior to the purchase.

On its face, this seems like a strange purchase for Oracle, but it’s likely part of a bigger public cloud game plan. While it has made big strides in its transition to the cloud this year, this purchase is directly related to Docker containers and could signal that Oracle wants to be a player in the container market moving forward.

This purchase might have actually made sense for Docker, but Docker bought Tutum, a competing product earlier this year indicating perhaps that other container management startups could be out of luck. Docker made a management layer choice and it was Tutum.

It’s worth noting that in a separate announcement, Oracle announced it was building a new cloud campus in Austin, which just happens to be where StackEngine is located. The company also indicated it was buying housing nearby where Oracle’s cloud employees could live as further indication of its commitment to the project and to draw talent to the new campus.

In its most recent earnings report (.pdf) earlier this month, Oracle announced total cloud revenue was up 26 percent to $649 million. It reported Platform as a Service revenue of $484 million for the quarter, up 34% in U.S. dollars, according to the report. On-prem revenue was actually down 7 percent, perhaps indicating that growth moving forward for the database giant could be in the cloud.

This move gave StackEngine a great exit path and it gives Oracle another tool in its PaaS arsenal. Perhaps with that big campus in Austin under construction, you might see Oracle making other moves in 2016 as it tries to bring in more of its talent and expand its product offerings through acquisition.

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