Oracle needs multi-cloud strategy, wider datacentre footprint in APAC

Software vendor currently lacks a clear multi-cloud strategy in Asia-Pacific, where more enterprises are expected to deploy across different cloud environments, and needs to expand its regions to better compete against the likes of AWS.

SAN FRANCISCO--Oracle needs to expand its datacentre footprint in Asia-Pacific and outline a clear multi-cloud strategy, especially as the majority of enterprises in the region are expected to deploy across different cloud environments.

Driven by the architectures on which applications run on, businesses would end up running cloud platforms from different vendors, according to Chris Morris, IDC's vice president of cloud services and technology group for Asia-Pacific excluding Japan.

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For instance, a suitable analytics engine might be available on one cloud environment, while another enterprise software would be optimised on a different cloud platform. Moreover, not all applications were available in every region, forcing companies to opt for different cloud vendors to access the best software for their business needs.

This sourcing decision meant organisations often had to deal with managing a multi-cloud environment, said Morris, pointing to an IDC study that revealed more than 70 percent of Asia-Pacific enterprises would have a multi-cloud strategy by 2018.

It also meant that they would need help managing this complex environment, which brought with it increased security risks, reduced pricing visibility, and data disparity, amongst other challenges. According to IDC, the need to get a better handle of these "cloud 2.0" environments would drive 65 percent of Asia-Pacific businesses to seek out management tools from external providers.

It also meant that cloud providers such as Oracle would need to have a clear multi-cloud strategy, said Morris, who was speaking to ZDNet on the sidelines of the vendor's OpenWorld 2018 conference here.

He noted that Oracle had yet to give much focus to this and--when asked about it during an analyst briefing--avoided discussion on how it was integrating with other cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google.

In contrast, other market players were investing efforts to address the need to support multi-cloud environment, including Microsoft, VMWare, and IBM.

Wider cloud datacentre footprint needed in Asia

Oracle also needed to expand its cloud regions in Asia, where it was a good alternative to AWS in terms of infrastructure, but still lacked datacentre footprint, Morris said. In this aspect, he noted, AWS had a headstart and this was a significant factor for many enterprises in the region.

Amazon currently operates eight regions in Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing, and Mumbai.

Opportunities for Oracle then would come from its deployment of new regions and locations in Asia, Morris said, pointing to significant momentum from the vendor in ramping up its coverage in India, which was a strong growth market.

When asked, Oracle declined to reveal how many regions it currently operated in the Asia-Pacific region or worldwide. It did, however, announced at OpenWorld this week that it was adding several new cloud regions by end-2019 including in Australia, Japan, South Korea, and India. It added that these would complement the vendor's existing edge network that comprised more than 30 global locations and 300 sensors.

In February, it also opened 12 datacentre regions including Singapore, India, China, Japan, and South Korea.

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According to Morris, the software vendor's Exadata Cloud at Customer was resonating well in Asia, where there was a stronger preference for on-premise and private cloud deployment.

The Oracle offering aimed to put compute, storage, and networking equipment at the customer's data centre, connecting to the vendor's public cloud via a firewall. The customer would pay for services and systems they needed on a subscription model.

The IDC analyst pointed to AWS and Microsoft as Oracle's biggest cloud competitors, adding that Alibaba still had some way to go even as the Chinese tech giant ramped up its investment in the region. He noted Alibaba would need to build up its partner ecosystem, which remained weak outside of its domestic market and currently focused on lower-margin services.

Forrester's Asia-Pacific research director Michael Barnes noted that Alibaba also would need to build up its credibility outside of China to lure Asian enterprises onto its cloud platform.

Previously criticised for being late to the cloud game, Morris added that Oracle since had emerged with some compelling services for customers, underlined by its strong database offering. This puts the vendor in a good position to compete against SAP and lays a strong foundation for its future growth, he said.

Its heightened focus on data at the conference this week also put Oracle in good stead, he noted. He added that the vendor's discussions around autonomous databases and IT systems also was a step in the right direction, because it emphasised the services they were bringing to market, rather than its cloud platform. The IDC analyst said enterprises were more concerned about applications and services they could deploy, and not how these were delivered.

Barnes concurred, noting that Oracle had put its focus on the value of applications and how these, including autonomous architecture, could help improve business processes and add more intelligence into the enterprise environment.

In comparison, AWS' messaging embraced cloud infrastructure as the starting point for tech innovation, he said.

During his keynote, Oracle's executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison played up the importance of autonomous management, specifically, the company's database and cloud infrastructure security services, which he said automatically scanned for threats and applied security updates without any downtime.

"We've used a lot of the latest artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies...to protect the cloud infrastructure," Ellison said. "To find threats and kill them. Our robots versus their robots. You're not fighting with your hands tied behind your backs anymore."

During his keynote, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd also underscored data as a key asset for businesses to own, analyse, and secure. He further noted that AI, rather than function as a standalone component, was a core feature that would be embedded into every application in future.

This would enable automation across the enterprise, reducing time needed to complete tasks and bringing down maintenance costs, Hurd said. Automation also would lead to the creation of higher value jobs, driving new roles such as supervisors for robots, and smart city technology architect, he added.

Based in Singapore, Eileen Yu reported for ZDNet from OpenWorld 2018 in San Francisco, USA, on the invitation of Oracle.