Oracle is fully geared towards powering India’s digital economy and cloud is going to be an important catalyst to help build a modern and inclusive India, says John Fowler, executive vice-president – Systems, Oracle. He says that as the biggest enterprise in India’s digital ecosystem, the government is leading from the front and investing billions of rupees on modern IT. “I am particularly excited about the technical challenge as well as the technology opportunity that India presents us. You can just feel the energy around technology in India,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
What do you think is the future of the data centre, with cloud taking centre stage?
Cloud is obviously a massive opportunity for people driving transformation for the digital enterprise, because this gives them a choice of how to deploy the services. You are going to see enterprises change their data centre strategy over time. Today, many big customers are on their own datacentre. But as they start to use more and more cloud computing, we expect them to use more and more external data centres. We’ll see companies continuing to deploy technology in both places, so this would be more like an evolution over time based on the practical deployment of services.
The future of computing and requirements of performance and security in operation lie in a vertically integrated approach. A cloud data centre is possibly the only and completely vertically integrated runtime environment, software and hardware included.
How is Oracle gearing up to capitalise on this business opportunity?
Oracle is uniquely positioned as the only technology company in the world that provides on-premises computing with hardware and software all the way up to cloud with SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. Our hardware strategy is very much driven also by our software strategy. Oracle is in a unique position where we take our deep knowledge in all the individual pieces from operating systems, virtualisation, up through and including obviously, the database, middleware, and application stacks and use that to drive a comprehensive R&D portfolio. All enterprise software, whether it comes from Oracle or other vendors, have a very common set of properties pertaining to security, performance, availability, etc., so we evolve that and put that in all of our technology. The cloud strategy is particularly exciting because we run our super-scale cloud on our own hardware.
Can you share a few key highlights of Oracle’s systems business in the last few quarters?
We have seen continued evolution, with companies moving to vertically integrated and engineered systems. The future of computing technology lies in vertical integration. The other thing you see is innovation at all levels of our cloud stack. For instance, in our case, we innovated the microprocessor to include database and security functions—similar to the way the microprocessor for the cellphone has evolved specifically for those functions. We are going to continue to see that kind of vertical integration at the technology level, like the microprocessor and operating systems all the way to the big systems level.
What are the key challenges faced by customers in the present-day environment?
Based on my interactions with numerous customers around the world, there are two big challenges enterprise customers are facing today. The first one is driven by consumers; virtually every business in the world today is going through a giant, consumer-driven digital transformation. To keep pace, companies are taking their old infrastructure and old applications and modernising them to reach out to consumers in different ways.
The second huge challenge today that enterprises have worldwide is information security. A large retail customer told me a few days back that he didn’t realise till recently that they are akin to a bank. A retailer holds confidential customer information, such as credit card information. So everyone has figured out that customer information is one of the most precious things you have—and everyone’s after it! We are deeply focused on helping enterprises address these effectively.
What new innovations can we expect to see from Oracle’s systems business in the next 12 months?
We have been launching products at a breakneck pace and obviously, we are running our own superscale cloud. We are driving as much innovation as possible when it comes to products so you can see major platform upgrades across all of our products over the next 6-12 months. We are going to make sure that the products are easy to deploy, compatible with existing applications and offer breakthrough performance and security.
What is your take on Digital India? Where do you think India fits in Oracle’s global scheme of things?
Oracle is fully geared towards powering India’s digital economy and cloud is going to be an important catalyst to help build a modern and inclusive India. With cloud, rapidly emerging economies like India can remove barriers to costly technology, unlock opportunities for new services and products, encourage small businesses, start-ups and new entrepreneurs, non-profit organisations and academia, and farmers to collaborate and share knowledge. As the biggest enterprise in India’s digital ecosystem, the government is leading from the front and investing billions on modern IT.
I am particularly excited about the technical challenge as well as the technology opportunity that India presents us. You can just feel the energy around technology in India, the vast technology talent pool is a huge advantage.