"We Will Upgrade Our Offerings Every Week"

by Sohini Bagchi    May 22, 2015


Tech giant Oracle claims that it is seeing strong demand for its cloud solutions globally and in the vibrant Indian market. While the company’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business has seen the highest and fastest adoption, Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) is another area it is extremely bullish on. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday.com, Oracle’s Global Executive Prashant Ketkar, Vice President, Product Management, Public Cloud discusses why more and more CIOs are showing an increase in PaaS adoption and Oracle’s plans for the India market in this segment.

What makes Oracle so bullish about PaaS technology of late?

You must be aware that Oracle a leader in the cloud SaaS market. We are now aggressively positioning ourselves to meet the growing demand for PaaS and IaaS. Enterprises are turning to PaaS options to eliminate the cost and complexity of managing the underlying application platform, most notably database, middleware, and infrastructure. Gartner predicts that, PaaS market is expected to reach $1.8 billion in 2015 and $2.9 billion in revenue worldwide by 2016, being driven by the public sector, manufacturing, energy & utility, travel and transport at the forefront of adopting PaaS.

Now for us also, the reason we are bullish is because we do believe in the value proposition of our customers and these are fairly significant. The Platform-Service model offers software development companies several advantages including cost savings, reduced technical maintenance, and increased mobility. The upfront costs for purchasing servers, other hardware, and the necessary software licenses are eliminated. With servers hosted offsite, fewer tech support staff are required. Expensive tools that may be required for only a short period of time during the software development process can be accessed as part of the overall PaaS package.

With increased employee mobility today everything is accessible via web-based tools. Many agile software developers, who follow a trend that focuses on moving from concept to workable product as quickly as possible, seek the flexibility of a Platform as a Service environment. The wide range of tools available make it possible to adapt the programming environment to an ever-evolving software concept.

Despite its benefits, PaaS is still confusing to so many CIOs, especially in a country India. What are your views on that?

A factor that may slow PaaS adoption is the extreme fragmentation of the market, with dozens of vendors providing individual PaaS functionalities such as MFT, DBMSs, messaging, application servers, data integration, B2B integration, BPM technology etc. These fragmentation often become an issue when users and service providers start to implement large-scale, business-critical applications requiring the simultaneous and in-concert use of multiple PaaS capabilities. Now where PaaS is again confusing and tricky for customers is on the part where businesses have to maintain and manage the database. In such a scenario, it is necessary that the customer should be willing to give up some control. The mindset is that in the traditional IT environment IT managers control the database, the hardware, the operating system, virtualization technology, and everything. There is a certain level of comfort that IT, the enterprises around the world have derived from many years of running that and on being in control of that environment. 

Now PaaS is slightly different model of operation where they have to be willing to give up some control in maintaining and managing the database in exchange of the added benefits that it provides. That transformation is as much a technology and business value prop conversation and journey as is cultural. When I say cultural, I do not mean cultural in the context of country or any region, it is just a different way of doing things that they are not used to as twenty years. That transition is a journey and it is going to take time and we do see is that the customer starting at the Infrastructure as a Service layer around adopting the cloud and when they start to derive more and more benefits moving to Platform.

What are the forthcoming offerings from Oracle’s Cloud?

We are in the process of modernizing our entire portfolio. At present, we provide a Database as a Service at the Platform as a Service layer for customers to go and consume, which is a fully managed automated environment around our database product. We have also taken our Weblogic Suite of products. We have a very robust roadmap of services that are going live over the next 3-12 months. In the traditional enterprise software model, we would release our software every three to five years. Now we are releasing new pieces of software and new pieces of technology every week, not every year, or every month. Every week we are either making an existing service better or we are releasing new services. We have a document service in market, we have a BI service in market; we have some 20 new public cloud services that are going to go live in the next 6 to 12 months. So we have a fairly aggressive product roadmap and calendar.

In terms of India’s digitization initiative, how do you see cloud computing playing a role in it and what role is Oracle playing in it?

We see an immense opportunity in a place like India – which is going through tremendous mobile phone transformation – where cloud comes into play in a big way. I also believe more IT enterprises and developers are just starting to get more comfortable with the concept of cloud, and you will see a similar wave of adoption of cloud technologies in India which perhaps I think will surpass adoption in some of the developed markets where large portions of their transition has to deal with large pools of existing infrastructure and technology investments that they have made in their data centres.

The other advantage is that India has one of the largest developer population in the world. And cloud will continue to thrive in an app-centric economy, where companies like us can play a key role.

In which sectors do you see rapid traction happening?

We are seeing a broad adoption across verticals, across many, industries, from financial services to retail, to FMCG and manufacturing who are using our platform services. We have fast-moving consumer goods companies around the world who are using our services, we have manufacturing organizations, both within India as well as around the world who are using public cloud services. The used cases in this scenario might be different for each vertical and each industry but I would say that we see adoption in a variety of industries and verticals.

How do you plan to stay a few notches above your key rivals in the PaaS market.

Today, most enterprise corporations around the world have heterogeneous environments. They run Microsoft, they run Oracle technology, they run other pieces of technology, they run Dot Net, they run Java, they run our database technology, they run Microsoft’s database technology. So there we want to make sure that we provide a highly-open, standard-based, flexible platform so that a customer can bring essentially any workload, on any technology to our cloud platform. The second part of the puzzle is we want to make sure that for our technology platform, our database products, our web logic suite of products, for Java, for our identity stack, we provide the best experience for them to run our technology in the cloud. As an example, when a customer thinks about wanting to run an Oracle database and wants to consume an Oracle database as a service, we obviously want the Oracle database to be highly differentiated and the Oracle public cloud to be the best place where they can come and consume the Oracle database service… because if we don’t do that or if we can’t do that, then we are no longer in the game.

The third part of it is we are extremely focused on making sure we help our enterprise customers to use our technology and products on premises today, successfully make the transition to public cloud services. That’s because, every CIO today wants to be on the cloud. Now they have concerns, they have issues, they have timelines, they have questions around a variety of things, but they generally understand the promise of the cloud. They want to be there and we are there to help them. So what I would say is that for commodity services, we would provide as good a set of offerings as an Amazon, or a Google or a Microsoft. For our technology we would provide the best place in the world to run our technology in the cloud and we want to make sure that we are perceived and we deliver an enterprise-class cloud  for our customers who use our technology on-premises today, so that they continue to use those services in the cloud tomorrow.