Tech giant Oracle Corp is bullish on cloud adoption in India as it feels companies across sectors such as banking and telecom will seek to redefine themselves in coming years. The company, which employs about 38,000 people and has catered to 7,000 customers in India, plans to offer autonomous databases and usage flexibility in line with its global strategy. The company also runs a cloud startup accelerator in India and has supported about 15 startups. In an interview with TechCircle, Oracle India managing director Shailender Kumar talks about the company’s game plan in the country. Excerpts:
Oracle entered the cloud game late. How do you see cloud adoption in the country?
The trend is that everyone is talking about digital adoption and cloud is the best way forward. As we go forward, artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to play an important role alongside Big Data and analytics and so will bots, Internet of Things and blockchain.
We are working with banks for land records’ management, working with Jet Airways for supporting BYOD (bring your own device) for content delivery on flights, and with several others via our platform Taleo for human capital management.
As SMBs (small and medium businesses) and corporates start their digital journey, they will come across various stages of cloud implementation, be it SaaS, PaaS or IaaS (Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, or Infrastructure-as-a-Service).
Imagine the transformation a lot of companies and SMBs have gone through. One such example is in the fin-tech sector. Telecom companies are becoming banks and startups that have grown with their wallets are also trying to be banks; they are all redefining themselves and all this will happen through cloud, giving Oracle a lot of opportunities in India, which you will see from April 2018 onward.
I also see probable adoption in the human capital management (HCM) sector. The first need of Indian companies is HCM. We are looking at a hire-to-retire cycle via cloud services. Think of huge organisations such as the Indian Railways.
Another reason for adoption can be natural progression in business. Once a company adopts automated enterprise resource planning solutions via cloud for supply chain, financials, expenditure, project management automation, then it will think of customer management or customer experience when it will turn to new cloud services.
Which companies is Oracle working with in India?
Oracle has had operations in India for 25 years and is the only division to house all kinds of businesses including back-end operations, sales, and development, among others. We have worked with customers such as ICICI Bank, State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Industries and several state governments such as those of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
In September 2016, Oracle signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maharashtra government to develop a centre of excellence aimed at accelerating the state's smart city programme. The centre, to be based in Mumbai, will help with design, development and testing new abilities to deliver government-to-citizen and government-to-business services.
It has also signed an MoU with the government of Jharkhand to improve citizen services and make the state attractive for startups. As part of the MoU, Oracle will offer its vast portfolio of technology solutions, including Oracle Cloud.
Oracle has really pushed itself on cloud. What are the changes the company has undergone to offer differentiators in a crowded space?
We have reconfigured ourselves in our journey towards cloud and we have completely transformed the way all companies buy and use cloud by providing flexibility and choice in the form of licensing our cloud services.
We have a Universal Credits system where customers can buy any kind of cloud service. With Universal Credits, customers have one simple contract that provides unlimited access to all current and future Oracle PaaS and IaaS services, spanning Oracle Cloud and Oracle Cloud at Customer.
What are the changes on the licensing side?
Oracle has liberalised licences for adopting PaaS services. We have expanded the offering by enabling customers to reuse their existing software licences for Oracle PaaS, including Oracle Database, Oracle Middleware, Oracle Analytics and others.
Customers with existing on-premises licences can leverage that investment to use Oracle Database Cloud at a fraction of the old PaaS price. Running Oracle Database on Oracle IaaS is faster and offers more features than Amazon, delivering the industry’s lowest total cost of ownership.
Additionally, customers can reduce management and operational costs required for on-premises maintenance by taking advantage of this PaaS automation. Our executive chairman and chief technology officer Larry Ellison had first talked about the move in September last year.
When did this transformation journey begin and how did it pan out?
Oracle had started its cloud transformation journey five years ago with the SaaS side with customers from ERP, customer experience and HCM. In the last three years, we have focussed on IaaS and PaaS.
As part of our transformation journey, we have re-trained all our sales teams and pre-sales and consulting teams, to help sell to customers in the most effective way. We have redefined a lot of our processes; for example, in the contracting area, we have come up with something new called the ABE, that is, accelerated buying experience via which customers can finalise the contract just at the click of a button.
Our strategy is to work on private, public and hybrid cloud. I mention all three because we can support any customers depending on their requirements or where they want to start their journey. Our offering of Oracle Cloud at Customer is also unparalleled. This is a part of our public cloud set within the firewalls of the customer. To explain, we have our own hardware, our own software but what the customer gets is a service.
Oracle chairman Ellison had spoken about introducing autonomous databases. Is the new tech coming to India?
The autonomous database eliminates complexity, human error, and manual management, helping to ensure higher reliability, security, and more operational efficiency at the lowest cost. The database cloud, which is being offered in India, integrates applied machine learning to deliver self-driving, self-tuning, self-recovering, and self-scaling administration—without human intervention—resulting in streamlined operations.
With built-in automation at all levels to perform maintenance tasks, companies can now use their valuable IT (information technology) resources to focus on extracting more value from the data they manage, in order to directly influence business opportunities and outcomes.
Is Oracle offering a play on prices or has the price of cloud solutions affected the uptake in anyway?
SaaS is well-established for us but PaaS and IaaS are also growing fast for the India division. When it comes to startups adopting our solutions, the price, especially after the Universal Credits system, is one-eighth of our previous price.
We are also offering more solutions in the form of enabling different services on 2G (second generation) networks, as well as offering security audit of organisations via our cyber defence programme.