HSBC was among Oracle customers who attested to the value of Oracle’s march to the cloud at the second day of the supplier’s Open World 2016 conference in San Francisco. A couple of other British voices offered their testamentary support, too: Yellow Dog, a Bristol-based start-up that turns unused computing power to account for firms with massive graphics files to render; and small insurance firm TH March, who wanted a marketing system to run in the cloud that got them beyond “Dear Valued Customer” type communications.
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Joanna Fielding, CFO for HSBC Global Services joined Oracle CEO Mark Hurd on stage to say a few words about the bank’s Project Velocity programme. Deloitte steered HSBC towards Oracle Fusion in the cloud for a new ERP and EPM [enterprise performance management].
“Our strategy is to lease, buy and build [systems], in that order. I am running our first cloud implementation across HSBC, Velocity”.
The programme started two years ago, she said, and they signed a contract with Oracle in May 2015 to replace the previous back office system for cost control. She was pleased, she said, that the supplier brought out its “A-Team”, and that governed the choice.
“It’s essentially about increasing control — getting more transparency across the cost base so that we understand our business drivers and make better commercial decisions.
“One of our biggest concerns is security, and Oracle’s commitment to make this work, alongside Deloitte” was critical, she felt.
“While this started off as a project to help use increase cost control, it has also enabled us to respond to the changing regulatory environment” that led to the setup of HSBC global services, in response to the requirement to ring fence UK operations. HSBC global services will provide back office functionality both to the ring-fenced UK operation and the rest of the bank.
“We could not have done that as quickly as we did if we had gone with an on-premises system”, she said.
Gareth Williams, the founder and CEO of Yellow Dog has been using Oracle’s Bare Metal service to build what he describes as the “world’s fastest super computer”, which marshals unused computing power, rather like SETI did to look for extra-terrestrial life.
He started the company in January 2015, and its first set of customers are firms that have compute-intensive needs for rendering big images. “We harness unused computing power for people making computer generated art – whether people making kids TV shows, TV commercials or architects.
For the past six weeks they have been using Oracle’s Bare Metal service, and found it to be two times to nine times faster than any other public cloud provider.
“We’re a small startup, based in Bristol. The Oracle cloud developers based locally have been responsive, agile and a pleasure to work with”.
Neil McFarlane, managing director at insurance broker TH March said when he’d arrived at the firm – which employs 110 people, was founded in 1887, and insures jewellery – its marketing communications were of the “Dear Valued Customer” stripe. So, he wanted to offer a more personalized, and cloud-based marketing automation platform, and alighted on Oracle, having also looked at Microsoft and Sage alternatives.
As an aside, in relation to plans to migrate their insurance brokerage system to the cloud, he mentioned, as a caution, the computer system breakdown in the UK in the past few weeks of one of the providers of joint brokerage systems that Computer Weekly has reported on. “That is devastating, not being able to trade for a week. And also, they had no back up!
“[For online brokering] you need a failsafe system in place, and got to provide total data security, especially in view of the EU data protection regulation coming into place in 2018”.