Oracle is shortlisted for three awards at the V3 Technology Awards 2015: Best Virtualisation Product, Best Cloud Service and Best BI/Big Data Vendor. Ahead of the event, we spoke to John Abel, engineered systems & public technology cloud leader for Oracle UK&I, to discuss the firm's current strategy and trends for 2016.
V3: What has Oracle focused on this year?
John Abel: We've seen the IT market mature to the point that the transition to cloud in the enterprise has happened and hybrid cloud has become established at the vast majority of our customers. Companies have reached broad consensus that the scalability, agility and cost benefits of the public cloud are appropriate for some parts of their business, while the private cloud is more appropriate for others and we've focused our efforts over the past year on providing our customers with the ability to create the public/private cloud mix that is right for them.
While the maturity of the market has led to many of our customers being more comfortable moving business critical information in the public cloud, it's important to recognise that external factors, such as data security, regulation and compliance, influence where our companies store data as well. Today public cloud might be the right path, but an external factor can change that. Our focus over the past year has been on making our underlying technology the same whether its on-premise, private or public cloud to ensure our customers have the capability to move data from one to the other quickly, easily and securely.
What is currently driving IT investment?
Looking at how the market has changed, last year saw broad acceptance that implementing software-as-a-servive (SaaS) applications would bring a raft of benefits to the business, driving investment in SaaS. Now we're seeing priorities evolve and many companies are looking at moving some platform elements into the cloud as well - whether that's extending their SaaS applications, or integration via platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
Looking ahead, we can expect the more forward looking companies to look at ways of taking things like system management and data into the cloud as well. Early adopters have seen the benefit, so that naturally spurs others on to look at how these approaches can add value to their own business.
What are the biggest concerns and challenges for firms and IT managers?
On top of concerns around setting up an IT system that is flexible enough to accommodate changes to external factors like regulation and compliance, things like improving speed to value around mobility continues to be a challenge for IT managers. The growth of mobile has not only had a profound impact on the way products and services are designed and developed, but on the timescales that IT managers are working to.
When looking at adding value to the business, PaaS not only means companies can be more agile, innovative and flexible, but it can also be used to standardise and optimise the overall IT setup. Using PaaS for the latter is a slower, more involved process, but it has a bigger impact on capex and opex spend in the long run. IT managers must make a choice on where to focus their investment and resources.
Finally, IT managers need to align their platform to a service definition, whether it's service level agreements, key performance indicators or regulation, to prove the value to the business.
What are your plans for 2016?
Continuing to assist our customers in their move from classical to cloud IT and supporting them on their journey to the cloud. Cloud is about more than just infrastructure, it's about delivering the service a business needs and building an appropriate cloud strategy around that, whether it's public, private or hybrid (or even no cloud). We want to continue helping our customers on their journey and creating the conditions that ease the transition and the products that meet their needs.
What do you think the biggest technology trends will be in 2016?
Firstly, mobile enablement will be critical to boosting the speed of innovation within companies so we can expect to see a much greater focus on mobility. Equally, we can expect to see more companies moving to a 'buy and extend' approach when it comes to applications strategy. Configuring and personalising an off-the-shelf application that is built on industry standards and has already taken care of integration, compliance and security is a no-brainer.
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