Premalakshmi R, Head-Cloud Platform business, Oracle India in an interview with CRN speaks about autonomous cloud services and how customers have reaped significant benefits in the shortest possible time. These include one of India’s leading footwear retailers, two leading nationalised banks, a leading NBFC and many technology companies
What are the key challenges you’re hearing from CIOs?
In recent times, the role of a CIO has probably seen the most evolution vis-à-vis other C-suite roles. Increasingly, CIOs are focusing on growth as their key priority, and are now helming more business responsibilities, going well beyond the traditional IT ambit. They not only have the pressure to innovate faster and better, alongside effectively deploying emerging technologies for business benefits; they’re also having to make some tough calls on future-proofing their business from possible technology disruptions.
Also, with the democratisation of IT, the onus is clearly on the CIO to craft a unifying technology strategy for the company, taking business stakeholders along, to ensure business data is secure and breach-proof. Another issue that CIOs are trying to address is bridging the IT skill gap.
Has cloud adoption taken off in India as projected?
Yes, to a large extent. Organisations understand that cloud is now a business imperative, and the discussion has shifted from ‘why cloud’ to ‘how soon, and which cloud model’. But are businesses taking full advantage of all that cloud has to offer? Not at the moment, and therein lies the opportunity. The bulk of cloud usage today continues to be for non-core, peripheral applications. Not surprisingly, less than 10 per cent of enterprise workloads are running in the public cloud today. There are some outdated cloud myths that businesses have to get past, and we’re seeing reasonable mainstream cloud adoption now.
A key driver for cloud adoption is the rise of emerging technologies in the enterprise. If you look at it, cloud is the foundation for a number of emerging technologies such as AI/ML, Blockchain, IoT and chatbots. Last but not the least, cloud is a great equaliser – because not just enterprises, even mid-size businesses and startups can take advantage of the exact same enterprise-grade cloud services, empowering them to dream big and venture beyond domestic markets.
From an adoption point of view, how is the cloud story in the enterprise sector?
Unlike born-in-the-cloud companies (typically startups who don’t have to contend with legacy IT issues), most enterprises have to draw a fine balance between fully exploiting on-premises IT investments while leading their business into the cloud future. To that extent, there’s a lot of push towards modernisation and digital transformation. We’re collaborating with many of these enterprises to help them undertake massive digital transformation programs. Several large enterprises now have a digital-first strategy in place. Specific to cloud, most of our customers have adopted a hybrid approach owing to factors like regulatory compliance and data residency. But industry experts and analysts expect enterprise cloud adoption to go mainstream sooner rather than later.
This is because: (a) cloud solutions are increasingly proving to be either at par or better when it comes to data security; (b) increased competition is compelling enterprises to focus more on their core business of innovation and customer delight, while leaving intelligent IT management to external experts, i.e. cloud providers, and, (c) a variety of cloud models and deployment options available – including solutions that offer all the virtues of a public cloud (scalability, high availability, advanced security, modern, enterprise-grade, and very cost-effective) on-premises, i.e. behind the customer’s own firewall (inside their or their managed provider’s data center). The third one best describes our unique cloud at customer offering. To give you an example: two of the top five Indian banks, the country’s newest wholesale retailer, and one of India’s largest NBFCs use Oracle Cloud at Customer solution for increased agility and to drive faster innovation.
Can you tell us more about your cloud business growth in recent months?
Our cloud business is growing significantly, as is evident from our consecutive quarterly growth numbers. India is one of the fastest growing cloud markets for Oracle within JAPAC. For the third year in a row, the India region has won the best performing region award (internal to Oracle) in JAPAC. In the recent months, we have added several new cloud customers spanning large enterprises as well as midsize firms.
How is autonomous better than automation, which businesses are already familiar with?
In the world of IT, many things have been automated, but you’ll agree that there is still a lot of effort involved. Automation is about operating or controlling a system or process using set rules instead of human intervention; but businesses still need human intervention for action to be taken if something out of the ordinary happens. On the other hand, autonomous is about something that is self-governing and quite independent.
At Oracle, we believe that the future of IT is autonomous cloud. Several analysts and industry experts have recognised this as a new category, and the next level of cloud innovation. This new category of services could allow IT departments to stop worrying about the day to day operations, which currently take up 80 percent of the time and resources of an enterprise IT team today. With autonomous, this large resource pool will be freed from mundane jobs to focus more on creating increased value for the business, unleashing their creativity for faster innovation.
Our recently introduced Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud, is one of the biggest generational innovations we’ve achieved in recent times – and it’s an incredibly important milestone for the industry at large.
You say autonomous cloud is a generational innovation by Oracle. Can you explain this in simple terms?
Based on advanced AI/ML, Oracle Autonomous Cloud represents a new category of software automation. Several industry experts and analysts recognise this as the next level of cloud innovation. Oracle Autonomous Cloud delivers self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing autonomous capabilities, which can dramatically transform how companies do business – they can significantly lower costs, reduce risks, accelerate innovation, and get predictive insights. This is made possible by simplifying processes, reducing inefficiencies, and allowing companies to free resources to unlock innovation faster, at scale.
Take our Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud service for instance. In the digital economy, insights make all the difference between winning and losing customer mindshare and wallet share. Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud service uses artificial intelligence to deliver unprecedented reliability, performance, and highly elastic data management that enables data warehouse deployment in seconds.
Can you explain with some examples the actual business benefits of autonomous to customers?
Take for example a simple case of the database. While there are a lot of tasks that have been automated, running these essential data stores still takes a lot of time, effort and requires significant human involvement from database administrators (DBAs). In fact, IDC estimates that as much as 75 per cent of the total cost of database management can be labour.
To give you a context, let me give you two interesting global autonomous cloud customer use cases:
- Brake Parts is a global company that supplies the world’s top brake brands for cars, vans, SUVs, light trucks and heavy-duty vehicles. By automating its end-to-end customer change, RFQ, and new product introduction processes, Brake Parts has modernised its applications and automated many manually driven, customer-facing activities across departments -transforming its sales operations, decreasing costs, increasing business insights and delivering better innovation across the organisation.
- At the smaller end of the scale, small US provider QMP Health can now discover inefficiencies in lab work and prepare test results in as little as one hour, instead of two weeks. Patients receive quicker care, and the business is more competitive against larger rivals.
So, the benefits cut across all sizes of companies, be it large or small – and we are increasingly seeing interest from all industry sectors. Closer home, several Indian customers who have piloted our autonomous cloud services have reaped significant benefits in the shortest possible time. These include one of India’s leading footwear retailers, two leading nationalised banks, a leading NBFC and a bunch of other technology companies. What’s pleasing to see is the demand for our autonomous cloud services from businesses of all sizes – not just large enterprises.