I've been looking at a number of the PaaS products, and one of the issues for me, as a non-professional developer, is deciding what components I need and understanding how they all fit together. Eighteen months ago, Oracle had 2 or 3 offerings in the PaaS market. Now, it's nearly 40 offerings.
One of the things that I'm really impressed with is the announcement at this year's Oracle Open World that they're starting to pull them together into more specific suites that are designed to work together and make that decision-making process much easier. I'm looking at buying a suite, rather than just a single tool, I need a bit of this and a bit of that, and then needing to understand how to also put them all together.
I spend most of my time extending the Oracle SaaS applications for customers, and there are a number of components that will do what I need. As a non developer I was very interested in their Application Builder Cloud Service. Oracle was calling it the “citizen developer model”. That allowed you to do basic stuff without Java or other developers. This looks really good, and I've been working through the offering with the PaaS team. We had to push development on the SaaS side to give us the APIs that we needed to make this work.
Now, Oracle have put ABCS into 'Project Visual Code, a suite which makes it so much better for us to identify all the bits that we need.
The next steps for Oracle to take would be blueprints or some ideas about if you want to do X, then use Y. I think that would be helpful especially as the environment is changing so fast.
It's not just about integrating PaaS components with each other. It's not just about integrating Oracle's apps with Oracle's development tools, but it is about all integration. Oracle are talking about integration points, and we need to know how they can use SAP, or how they can use other vendors as well. Actually, whilst it might not be their plan, there are some people who've got Oracle investments and who want to integrate those with other vendors' platforms. We need integration points. We should be as much open source as possible, and perhaps we should be open APIs. Perhaps that's the answer.
In the PaaS world, where things are still developing very fast, technical support is actually very good. I get a chance to talk to development regularly. I've spotted a couple of bugs, and I see the developers dealing with that within days and then they have a monthly patch. I hit a big bug about 6 weeks ago, and it was fixed. I never had that on premise. It's pretty good.
On the wider side, in terms of cloud itself, I think that Oracle has still got a scaling job to do. Each time they open a new data center, that's another 100 or 200 staff members. They've all got to get up to speed. I've had some frustrations with the technical support.
There are people who want to move to the cloud-based offerings due to price and not having all the hardware on your premises. We hear these are the reasons you must make the change. The two reasons that really resonate with me are the security and the sales cycle.
Security is especially the case in the Oracle Cloud applications, because they own every single part of that stack. The defense-in-depth of their security is really compelling. If people are worried, they should sit down with a cloud architect from Oracle and look at it because it is present at every level.
In terms of the sales cycle, everyone talks about continuous innovation, meaning there's always going to be something new. However, it's a double-edged sword. It means you never stop learning, but actually it's really exciting that no two projects are the same. These two reasons are the ones that I really love. The security's there and there's always something new.
I am not implying that the security is not dealt with by the other cloud-based providers or PaaS. What I'm saying is, all the layers are dealt with together. I'm sure that, whichever layer you go for from another vendor, I'm sure that they've got an answer for that layer. In the same way, I'm talking about integrating different products. Integrating different securities has its same challenges. Oracle has that all in one place. Integration is not compromised in any level. I'm a Mac user. There are things I don't get in Microsoft Office because I run it on a Mac. In the same way if I were running somebody else's security for part of my stack, there may be some things that are compromised. There might be some gaps. With the Oracle stack, because you've got the whole stack, there are no gaps.
Last year at OpenWorld, there was a lot of discussion about “we're doing this, stay with us.” I think this year, the strategy and what they've done is much clearer. There are a lot fewer customers who are telling me 'Oraclet want to move to the cloud, but they're not telling me how'. I think this year there is no mistaking of what Oracle is doing. I think as a partner, that means I've got a lot of things to understand over the next few weeks.
I'm really lucky; I recently spent a week at Oracle's HQ getting some of that information. There's a lot to take in, but I think customers are much happier when they know what Oracle's strategy is, as opposed to just hearing pure marketing content. In addition, I am seeing follow through with an increased uptake of that migration. Up until about 18 months ago, apps, the 'cloud' i work with, was very steady. There were lots of new customers, lots of mid-market customers, so that was really exciting. They were all new customers. Those who were existing Oracle on premise were less ready to go. We're definitely seeing a change in that. It's not a stampede, but there are definitely people there, and PaaS is part of that answer.
In the past Oracle apps customers customised the hell out of their on-premises implementations. Now, there's a way of taking the customizations that they need to take with them, and extending those applications to do it. I am seeing a lot more interest. It might take them a few years, but it's no longer a “we're never going there” from everyone