PaaS momentum is building...
Local PaaS expert Tim Scott from our Australia team recently attended two cloud events, which took place in Perth and Wellington, both of which had record registration and turn out. Wanting to find out more about what might be causing such interest in these events, I interviewed Tim to get his insights into the what has brought audiences out in such force.
Hey Tim. The recent Cloud events in Perth and Wellington had an amazing turn out with standing room only. It really feels like momentum is building. Why do you think that is?
From an industry perspective, we are seeing that there has been a real shift. To date everyone has been talking about cloud in very generic terms. Now, they are trying to work out just how it is applicable to them and what benefits can it add. As they do this, the more they dig in to the possibilities, and the more opportunities they see. So what we are finding with events, like these Cloud Days, that they are going beyond just being an educational event, to an ‘ideation’ type of event, where from their discussions between each other, people are starting to understand all the different elements, and link one service to another and another, and to see the possibilities of what they can do, especially with the depth and breadth that Oracle’s cloud portfolio offers.
What has brought this new focus about?
With SaaS, what you are buying is a standardised business process. The thing is that traditionally, customers have taken an on-premise business solution and then customised it and modified it to fit their particular needs. When you try and standardise those global processes, while it is great from a business process standardisation point of view, businesses have idiosyncrasies; that is one of the things that separates them from their competition as a business differentiator. Standardised business processes don’t allow that.
With PaaS the possibilities open up. PaaS enables you to access the benefits of SaaS – scalability, being able to outsource the hassle and risk of managing your own environment – and add to them many of the benefits that users are used to on premises, in terms of being able to constantly iterate solutions, and add back in the functionality you had on prem into your SaaS apps.
In addition, if you look at what Oracle is offering, the Oracles PaaS portfolio is so diverse, with so many elements – there’s mobile, integration, process, documents, business intelligence and big data, and more. Then on top of that, our SaaS portfolio, sits on the same platform as our PaaS offerings, so you can extend and iterate on the exact same platform which is a huge advantage/differentiator.
You can think of PaaS as a toolkit, or as more simply as lego building blocks. Imagine you give a kid a lego kit, say a star wars model, with all the instructions, but then with a whole heap of extra bits. While most times they will start and follow the pattern, before long their imaginations go wild, and they extend and modify in so many different ways. That’s a bit like PaaS.
And that level of imagination and excitement was what we were seeing at those events; they really had great vibe, and they were really collaborative. It is almost as if the event and the content has become second fiddle to the networking and information/knowledge sharing between customer to customer, where Oracle is the enabler. And it wasn’t just a technical discussion, it was more about how is Oracle supporting new business models, how are we engaging with customers, not just as a technology provider but as a thought leader. It was really fantastic seeing all those companies come together that might not normally do so and talk about what’s new and what’s happening.
Can you give me some examples of that?
I’ll give you a couple of examples. Apparently, Ross McKewan, the CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland recently shared that the business ‘branch’ in 2014 was the 7:01 train from London to Paddington, with over 167,000 customers use their banking apps on their commute to work.
Another thing we shared was around a mobile app that one of my colleagues created recently to support an internal Oracle series of events – using Oracle technology he created an internal interactive app that took and shared real time responses. The app went from ideation to execution in 24 hours, and then as it got used across the business, it became an iterative process; we were able to update and add functionality in really short spaces of time. In talking about this app at the Perth and Wellington Cloud events, we showed that O isn’t just selling the technology, we are using it ourselves to good effect.
You know, most businesses at the moment believe they couldn’t even get something like that up and running, and we would have been the same not so long ago. This really shows that we are developing solutions that enable users not just to plan and develop for now, but to plan for the changes that they don’t even know are going to be coming along.
So there was a great reception to the event in both locations – Perth and Wellington – what would you say are the differences between the Australian and New Zealand markets?
So if I start with New Zealand, organisations there, both public and private, have gone to cloud quicker than almost anywhere, and there are differences in how they are adopting it; for example, I would say that New Zealand is slightly ahead of Australia in some of the consumptive models. And as a nation, it has always been at the forefront of a lot of tech changes. If you look at some of their banking payments systems, they have have been far ahead of Australia, and also from a network perspective, they get less latency issues. It is also a fiercely competitive market, with a strong SME business space, typically with less legacy infrastructure than, say over here, so their transition is exponentially faster.
That’s not to say that Australia doesn’t have a SME sector, it does, and we are engaging with a whole raft of new companies; SMEs, that pre-cloud would have probably seen Oracle as too expensive. Now we have a solution that is at a price point that is extremely competitive, and applicable to them, which is cool. Now you can have what I describe as ‘the mam and pap fish shop’ running the exact same solutions that the likes of a Westpac are, with the same scalability, the same security, the same rigours, and that’s never been the case before.
However, generally, Australia’s business landscape, is made up of larger organsiations, with large historical IT environments. This means that the transition to cloud takes a lot more time and effort, as well as cost, and the approach is more piecemeal, with them taking a single app into the cloud at a time, or utilising IaaS just for test and development.
On both sides of the water, there is also a big shift being taken by government in terms of what they are doing as a result of their own policies in terms of cloud first, but also on the tech sector. The other big opportunity that is opening up is in the partner, and especially ISV space, as these companies take their solutions and knowledge and bring cloud to those.