In keeping with what the Indian government has been pushing for, global technology major Oracle launched its regional data centre for India in Mumbai. It offers over 600 applications on the cloud for Indian customers. The idea is to tap public sector undertakings and restricted institutions. Arun Khehar, Senior Vice President, East Central Europe - Russia - Middle East & Africa, Oracle spoke to Anup Jayaram on what this data centre means.
Q: How does having a data centre in India change things for Oracle?
Arun: There are two objectives here, one is to go back to our existing customers in India and we look at taking them with the next upgrade into the cloud. So that is what we call is a SOAR program, it's a worldwide programme where we are taking and upgrading our existing customers and giving them new product, new features and functions. We also bring security on the ground because with the cloud being in the country and infrastructure that we have created in India, we are giving them a much-secured environment, which is at par with our global datacenters. And the third is we're targeting new customers, such as SMEs who have huge objectives of growth, and the last thing they want to do is create infrastructure and initially spend big amounts on starting versus having a head start. So, we are giving them the head start they need.
Q: You said India is important. So what exactly are you doing differently now?
Arun: Yeah, so we are in a unique position. There are SaaS players, but they do one or two areas of SaaS. Workday, for example, is really an HR-focused company, Salesforce is a CRM focused company, whereas we are there during the entire landscape of an enterprise. We can take all the front-end application, we can take HR, financials, do budgeting and BI applications. Nobody else offers the suite we offer. Our closest competitor is probably three years behind us.
Q: With Industry 4.0, how do you see man-machine collaboration?
Arun: We are looking at a couple of technologies which are going to change a lot of things. Artificial intelligence is getting more and more integrated into our products, and if you are using HR or financials or some of our supply chain applications, you will see new features and functions that have come in that space so that has been appreciated by customers. The same applies to blockchain. Most of our products are blockchain ready, and that is something that wasn't there in the on-premise world. It's happening now in the cloud world.
Q: Where according to you is the cloud market headed?
Arun: My personal view on this, is in three years' time, there will be no on-premise left because there will be no business reason for a customer to run their own data centres, their own infrastructure, their own security, their own upgrade.
It will be like the utility model where you pay as you use, your electricity bills come in at the end of the month, you pay a month, your electricity doesn't get generated in your own house, so the Oracle's of the world will become a service provider in the true sense which we were not in the past.
Q: How interested are SMEs?
Arun: So, an SME has the same challenges as a big one. The big guy at least has money. Now, the SME doesn't have the money to put up front and this is for them to pay as they grow in these, even more crucial, the cash flow becomes even more crucial, skills become even more crucial.
Q: How important is successful confirmation as customer experience is at the heart of everything?
Arun: So, talking about the customer experience with the customers is critical for our customers. Yes, because we made very complex products in the past; if you look at the look and feel of our products, you had to be an engineer or an IT head to use it. But today's world has changed, we've all got used to the new technologies, the iPads, and the iPhones of the world, so our benchmark is the new millennium usage of technology and that is iPhones and iPads of the world. So, if you look at our HR products or our back office or front office products, you can do things on your iPhone today that was not possible in the past because the way the programs were written, it didn't allow us to do that, so today we can.
So, for us to be competitive, we have to make sure that we give you the look and feel that makes it easier for you to use these products, understand these products and do more with it. So we've taken that very seriously; in our labs, we bring in students, young kids, and elderly people, not engineers and scientists like we used to 20 years back; and these guys come in and they actually tell Oracle development, these new features, functions, does it add value to the way they do work, is it easy, is the ease of use high/low. So, it's a big change for Oracle for sure.