Oracle's Autonomous Database to prosper in multi-cloud world: Steve Daheb Credit: OracleSupplied Art
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Oracle's Autonomous Database to prosper in multi-cloud world: Steve Daheb

Oracle is innovating fast to move its rank amongst the world’s top five cloud provider companies. Steve Daheb, who was appointed Cloud Chief at Oracle in 2015 is geared up to steer the growth of key Oracle Cloud portfolio including PaaS and IaaS. 

Interestingly, he has been the CMO at Citrix, Blue Coat and Emulex in his career. With a track record of building businesses, creating new categories, and driving integrated sales and marketing to achieve revenue growth, this CMO – turned – Cloud Chief is determined to achieve top-line growth for Oracle's cloud business. 

IDG had a fascinating conversation with Steve Daheb, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud at the company’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco, USA.  

Edited excerpts: 

Are we in a cloud-first world, and what were the major changes in 2018 with respect to companies’ cloud-first strategy, not only for startups but legacy ones too? 

The customers are stepping back and evaluating everything in their IT infra holistically with respect to applications and packaged applications versus custom applications. They might look at it from an app development, a data management, an analytics, a security or from an infrastructure perspective. 

As we engage across multiple layers of cloud - SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, we can have a thoughtful discussion with them because some things might be ready to move to cloud right away. And there are other things, be it type of data or the type of custom app, say to run a transportation system. Maybe that doesn't move soon or maybe there's data sovereignty or compliance or regulatory issues. Cloud first, according to me, means that people will evaluate and decide what things they can move to cloud. 

Everyone hasn’t moved everything to the cloud.

Cloud first doesn't mean you drop everything but take inventory of everything - like let’s move marketing to cloud, but for an ERP app, I'm not going to do that anytime soon. And the fun thing for us is that we can have those discussions. So it winds up being a cloud only, not just a cloud first. 

The digital businesses largely powered by say app or ERP on mobile suggests cloud adoption is accelerating though in bits and pieces across the industry (Brownfields and Greenfields) and not the entire infrastructure per se?

Yes, that’s the trend in the marketplace across the globe depending on maturity of geography and verticals. There are various ways to enrich what exists in cloud, say, add mobile capability. How can companies use integration for multiple disparate applications, think about analytics really being an app or mobile app or an ERP on the mobile the game-changing and how does cloud enable it? They might not change the underlying application, but at least they get a different flavor or maybe integrate some chat bot digital assistance into it, which cloud allows you to do.  

But, from an existing application in a brownfield, you have the ability to integrate, connect, and extend its capabilities. And then of course you have the net new Greenfield as well. 

Another thriving trend is multi-cloud which isn’t easy as it sounds, because of integration, skillsets, interoperability. 

There is a lot of the integration from our perspective from where we came, the heterogeneous multi-vendor datacenter world. It's not simple but it’s interesting to watch, because we're solving (in cloud) the same complexities that exist on-prem - like have Google cloud, AWS, Azure for some Apps and then Oracle workloads for other. There might be Tableau running and then Salesforce is running something else.  

Cloud was supposed to be easy. A part will be multi-cloud to a certain extent and people might starting seeing complexity. Cloud 1.0 was ‘lift and shift’. But now, it's more on how to architect, migrate, manage, secure, explore analytics, add new functionality to an existing app, maybe in brownfield or create net new cloud native ones. And hence multi-cloud lines have been part of that discussion. 

Are we in Cloud 3.0 or 4.0, or somewhere in between? 

Hmm. I don't know and I believe no one has the clear answer to it.

What’s the update with Oracle autonomous database and your cloud GTM? Do customers have to be in Oracle shop to benefit from autonomous DB? 

Autonomous database is very important, especially when analysts like IDC endorse Oracle to be years ahead in this space, because it's not about dropping ML like open-source fork and declaring it's autonomous. You need to have the infrastructure or the database optimization that's been occurring for decades with a custom algorithm. We see autonomous database to be pretty game-changing for us. Again, the benefits are self-driving like we found in 85 percent of the cases where a breach occurred, a patch was already available for a system to patch itself. 

And then I'd say, it's meant for Oracle as well as non-Oracle, around Oracle workloads and non-Oracle workloads. The first service introduced under our autonomous database was data warehousing wherein one can build a data warehouse on top of any data, it could be Oracle data, other third-party data, your own proprietary data, and it just acts like a data warehouse. 

Like on-prem, Oracle runs on everybody's hardware, we work with anybody's software. In the cloud, I can run Oracle database on Oracle cloud or Azure cloud or AWS cloud. It’s not about your or our stuff, but in general people think Oracle to be mostly proprietor. But AWS too has got the most proprietary stuff out there. 

What are the new expectations of CIOs/CXOs/LOBs and their organizations from cloud vendors like Oracle? 

IT leaders are seeking a trusted partner, an advisor to help them with the ‘how’ of the cloud world. They understand moving to cloud, but there are issues around what moves when and other concerns wherein we can help them prioritize their cloud infra based on business impact. 

There could be some urgent steps like leveraging IoT, block chain, machine learning, that could have an immediate impact on their go-to-market, their customer engagement and their innovation. We do that right away with a more thoughtful cadence and having that discussion.

Today close to 80 percent of IT budgets are spent on maintenance and the remaining 20 percent on innovation, and then security and compliance needs to get paid too. One of those discussions is how solutions like autonomous database help them flip that equation.

If we're taking on more of the traditional maintenance, those time and resources could be better spent now on innovation and being competitive. That’s the No. 2 expectation on overall cloud migration plan - to increase productivity and flip the status quo of maintenance and innovation. 

Does security still lurk as a fear factor for an organization moving to the cloud?

It's interesting; security used to be perceived as an inhibitor to cloud, but it is now an enabler. The CIOs and CISOs have to defend against hackers every single time. All they (hackers) have to do is get it right just once. 

They look at Oracle datacenter, and for all the reasons, whether it's sort of operational, whether the data is encrypted or app access controls or whatever we do, they understand that it will be a more secure environment. 

As Oracle’s cloud chief, what would be your bucket list of Do’s and Don'ts for CIOs? And your priorities for Oracle cloud in 2019 and 2020. 

I think CIOs need to take a more holistic approach to cloud and understand that there are vendors out there that can help them across the entire journey. It's not just about a forced migration to cloud over on-prem, but it's about a thoughtful thing that spans different applications, different data, different departments, different what-have-you. 

Oracle has delivered an incredible amount of innovation in the last 12 to 18 months and we continue to do things like autonomous database to make customers aware of the situation. Larry talked about the fact that we have like 4,000 plus active trials on autonomous database, people are getting it to their hands or understanding how to use it. So of course, we're going to keep announcing new things as we move forward to help companies move to cloud efficiently and securely. 


 What CIOs Expect from Cloud Vendors: Steve Daheb

- Seek a trusted partner to help with the ‘how’ of cloud like what moves when, real business impact & other concerns

- Help flip the 80:20 IT equation of maintenance v/s innovation through solutions like autonomous database

- Guide them to a more holistic approach to cloud & understand there are vendors to help them across the entire journey.

- Avoid a forced migration to cloud but rather plan a thoughtful journey spanning different apps, data, departments, etc.

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