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UK Oracle MD: companies repeating tangled architectures in cloud

Oracle’s UK, Ireland and Israel managing director, Dermot O’Kelly takes stock of Open World 2016 and urges CIOs not to reinvent on-premise “accidental architectures” in the cloud

Companies and organisations are at risk of reproducing the spaghetti-like complexity of their on-premise IT in the cloud.

Dermot O’Kelly, Oracle senior vice-president and leader, UK, Ireland and Israel, said at the end of last week’s Open World in San Francisco that he is seeing a raft of companies in danger of doing exactly that.

That will serve, he said, to recreate the classic problem that besets enterprise IT: 80% of money, resource and effort going into running its existing systems, while the rest has to stretch over all the new things an organisation wants to do.

O’Kelly was speaking at the end of a week when Oracle had announced the bolstering of its infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering as the bottom layer to its platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) layers.

“Many companies have accidental architectures [on premise],” he said. “They’ve bought lots of things from different people, then built stuff themselves. It’s labour intensive and complex to manage. So, when they go to cloud we’d tell them not to make the same mistake again. You don’t want an accidental cloud architecture. You’ll end up with the same mess, but in the cloud.”

An easy step

At present, most of Oracle’s customers in his region “have not moved their heavy production systems to the cloud. People have been equating cloud with SaaS. It’s harder for customers to get the whole idea of applications on platforms on IaaS, and it has been harder for us [at Oracle] to do.

“What we’ve offered [this week] gives customers a more complete picture. IaaS gives them an easy step one. They can then look at their workload and rethink how they do patching, and so on”.

Oracle’s IaaS offer was mainly about “figuring out what to do with existing customers, giving them the ability to move workloads and even reverse back from cloud to on-premise. But it is also about new customers, start-ups, and so on.

“Cloud is gathering pace in the UK. I struggle to think of a customer that is not thinking what their cloud strategy should be and the UK government [sector] is doing a good job of leading.”

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O’Kelly said there is “massive interest” in big data projects among Oracle customers in his region, especially in retail. “Companies have always been great at storing data, they’ve not always been so good at figuring out where the value is.”

He said the significance of Oracle’s increased emphasis on what it is calling “adaptive intelligent applications”, which is part of a general market trend towards machine learning, lies in giving “customers the capacity for continuous improvement, and that is what they want to do. With the increased automation of processes, machine learning helps with that.”

Railing against AWS

In each of his two keynotes the company’s CTO and founder Larry Ellison railed against Amazon Web Services (AWS), a market leader in IaaS. Kelly joined Ellison in vaunting Oracle over AWS. “AWS can do your compute and storage and then you are done. We can move and run your database and applications. This is our big advantage. And if the customer just wants to do compute, they can do that too.

“It is”, he said, “an interesting time to give IaaS as an option. It is a way of freeing CIOs up to spend more on doing new stuff than on legacy. CIOs are being squeezed on budget or want to change mix. Also, spend in IT isn’t always with IT. If it’s applications it tends to be the business head. No one buys an ERP [enterprise resource planning]system without the CFO’s involvement or a marketing automation system without the head of marketing.  But if you want the whole picture of what the cloud journey could look like, you want to be talking to IT and the business.”

In line with the Oracle point of view he said of SAP, “we see them in HR because of Success Factors but we don’t see them in ERP – they don’t have a cloud ERP”.

Talking to David Essex on Computer Weekly’s sister site SearchManufacturingERP, Holger Mueller, analyst, Constellation Research said that Oracle has an opportunity with its IaaS service, but faces an uphill struggle with AWS. “I think that we'll see that Oracle has found, potentially, their IaaS for the future,” Mueller said, “but that goal will depend on an increase in capital expenditures devoted to the Oracle IaaS platform, which have not been on par with those of leading cloud providers.”

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)