For a company that only a few years ago dismissed the cloud as marketing hype and “gibberish”, Oracle has undergone a remarkable about-turn, now pushing its focus on such web-based, flexible systems. Oracle president Mark Hurd is a key driving factor in this approach, as highlighted when V3 met with the ex-HP chief executive in late April at Oracle’s city offices.
Hurd explained that the IT industry is at an important intersection, and will need to “flip” over the next decade, with IT vendors needing to do more of the work to offer standard configuration and provisioning.
“What you hear with cloud, as well as what you hear with engineered systems, is really the same message coming from customers, which is ‘How do I get the complexity out? How do I simplify IT’,” he said.
“IT has gotten incredibly complicated, and this federated thing where you have a solution built on six or seven different component technologies, and it’s your job to figure out which ones, and it’s your job to put it together, and it’s your job to integrate it, and it’s your job to troubleshoot it, that’s what gets you hiring hundreds of people. There’s the opportunity now to say [to IT suppliers], ‘New idea, you do it as part of your R&D’.
“I think this manifests itself in cloud, I think it manifests itself in engineered systems, and that’s why these things are so hot right now.”
The combination of the data explosion, along with a young generation lacking in patience, is also increasing the pressure to change not only on IT vendors, but all businesses.
“[The iPhone] is roughly the power of a mainframe circa 1982, 1983, 1984. There are five billion phones out there, and two billion of these are smartphones. So think of it as two billion mainframes running around. Data has grown eight times from 2005 to 2012. From 2012 to 2020, it’s going to grow from here 20 times, so you’ll have 20 times the data and two billion mainframes,” said Hurd.
But as firms try to prepare their systems for this influx of data, at the same time they are faced with a new group of consumers who will not wait around for service. As Hurd quipped, the older generation he is from is quickly being replaced by a much more demanding set of customers.
“I’m trained to get crummy service. The fact to me that I can get to a call centre, I’ll hang on the phone for 15 minutes, I don’t get that upset,” Hurd said.
“My kids have this much patience [gestures with hand to show little to none]. They want to know the answer to the question now, and you as a company have to provide that answer to the consumer like this. My daughter’s got a mainframe in her hand… She needs to sort through what’s going to be 20 times more data, seven or eight years from now, and these companies have 20-year old applications.”
Madeline Bennett is editor of V3 and The INQUIRER. Previously, she was editor of IT Week. Prior to becoming a journalist, Madeline was an English teacher at a London secondary school. Madeline is a regular technology commentator on TV and radio, including Sky, BBC and CNN.