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BW Businessworld

'The Completeness Of The Stack Is Our First, Second And Third USP'

Oracle continues to move aggressively towards the cloud both globally and in India. In this backdrop, Andrew Sutherland, Senior VP - Technology & Systems, EMEA & APAC, Oracle, talks about the company's strategy, the challenges and opportunities

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Oracle continues to move aggressively towards the cloud both globally and in India. In this backdrop, Andrew Sutherland, Senior VP - Technology & Systems, EMEA & APAC, Oracle, talks about the company's strategy, the challenges, and opportunities, in an exclusive interaction with BW Businessworld on the sidelines of the recently-concluded maiden OpenWorld event in India.

Edited excerpts:          

Can you talk about Oracle's overall cloud strategy and where India fits into that?  
Oracle's strategy on the client, broadly speaking, is to ensure that we offer our customers a complete cloud. Now, we have seen this many times before in IT that if you use different components from different places, it can lead to more expense, more risk, more mistakes than if one uses a suite. So, the completeness is our number one strategy to offer that choice to the customers. There are a couple of points I will make though. I think, behind that meaning on the diverse strategy, we want to ensure we pay a lot of attention to our existing customers, we have a lot of them. They are very important to us of course, and I believe in a lot of instances, we are very important to them, I hope so too. And our plan is to ensure that we can take our customers to each subsequent generation more efficiently, effective generation of IT with minimal risk and minimal effort, minimal expense. So, we've taken and I believe from mainframe to client server. You don't need to rewrite everything. You could take an Oracle application and move it over client service internet onto cloud…

Where does India fit in? There are two ways in which India is a fantastic market for us. Of course, the first customer of our Cloud Machine was here in India…our business is fantastic in India, there's a vibrancy of a startup business in particular. Mobile technology, in particular, is so much - this is a market opportunity for us of course as a business. But equally, as I am sure you are aware, we invest greatly in India making our cloud software as well. So a great deal of our development is here.  

So, as you mentioned, do you see more demand or more traction from the startups vis-à-vis the large enterprise here in India? 
I think it's fair to say we see as significant demand from the large enterprises in India as we do anywhere else in the world, but we see more demand from startups here. I think I would put it that way. So, the enterprise is obviously here I won't quote any names of course…but what is notable to me is the startup vibrancy. I had recently been to a fantastic CIO event here where about three-quarters of them were from very young companies. I was going around the room saying what are you here for and what are you going to do as a digital business and what's a cloud and I remember there were lots of interesting ones, but this just stands out in my mind.

One of the gentlemen said his company manufactures light bulbs. I thought okay, so here's a traditional organisation like I am used to in the West who is probably looking at customer experience or maybe supply chain management - get the glass in more quickly so you get bulbs out more quickly. I remember he said No - What we are going to do is lighting-as-a-service. Each of our bulbs will have an individual IP address on the internet, we will go to hotels in the UK for example and football stadia and we will offer lighting-as-a-service, we will manage the complete lighting of your premises, we will monitor every bulb, dim and lighten it according to the electricity at the time, according to movement in the rooms at the time, we will dim the lights for you and brighten them up. Of course, if a bulb goes, we will have it replaced. You will never have any expense in lighting ever again apart from a fixed cost to us. What a brilliant idea!  

Companies such as IBM are betting big on integrating cloud with AI-based technologies such as Watson in their case. They are betting big on this. So does Oracle have an equivalent to Watson?
I don't represent product development but let me give you a take on probably the safest thing for me to describe what I see customers wanting rather than getting caught in the strategic products because I am not the right person to do that. But what the customers want is to actually see that technology has been of great integrated value to their business. It's fine having a smart thing who you can ask what kind of day it is today etc...But wouldn't it be smart to see business applications start providing insights instead of providing spreadsheets that can allow you to have insight…
We have an example of a large oil company which is running refineries and going beyond just monitoring the sensors, storing the data, providing insights and reports. It's going further than that - automatically spot patterns which could result in danger and if necessary actually make adjustments. And that's a very limited ecosystem in one given oil refinery, where you can see the concept, a closed loop system which is very much related to what we see today as a business application, maybe tomorrow we see it more as a business application, but I hope I am conveying a concept or something which is very intelligent but very much integrated with an extension of existing business, not something standalone.

Out of the three pieces in the cloud - SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, which one do you see maximum traction from in India and which one is Oracle focusing on from an India point of view?
In India specifically and I need to be careful that I won't give any numbers here, we certainly are coming to see that the IaaS PaaS mix is very interesting in that most customers, in fact, almost all customers who moved towards having IaaS with Oracle also want PaaS. So yes, IaaS is great and they use the IaaS, and I know that we compete with others in IaaS. But what's fascinating is many of our customers in India see also the value of taking the database-as-a-service or the middleware-as-a-service, and not just infrastructure. And that's quite marked actually.

As per a recent Gartner report, only 6 per cent of enterprise workloads have moved to the public cloud. In that background, what is the opportunity for Oracle and what's the challenge like?
It's a very insightful question. So the opportunity is enormous. It really is enormous and there are challenges of course. I opened up with the conversation saying that our customers are extremely important to us and one of our key strategies is helping our customers move successive generations. And we seek to do exactly that. So uppermost in our mind at all times are our existing customers. I think and hope we offer brilliant service to all new customers as well as we have a lot of experience in enterprise capability. But in our mind, we are very, very conscious of the importance of our existing customer base.

By the way that's a differential between many of our competitors as well, with lots of organisations that are there who are running a lot of workload on Oracle platforms. And our job is to make sure that these customers can benefit from the cloud, both in terms of their running cost, so they should and will be able to see great savings in their IT and by using our cloud. They should have minimum risk and effort in moving over. Our challenge really is to scale to do that as quickly as the market demands, because there's demand, there's enormous demand. And if you were to - I am speaking that from our supply side as opposed to the demand side, speaking to those who have their own businesses facing the marketplace…you can look at the addressable market, they are all new startups who wish to have new software. But all of the existing install bases has a potential either to move their data to the cloud or be prepared to do so using the hardware.

Lastly, what are the two or three factors that make up Oracle's USP - for which, customers should choose Oracle cloud over, say, AWS?    
The completeness of the stack is our first, second and third USP. That completeness of the cloud also offers the choice to our customers.

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