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Oracle Cloud Infrastructure SVP shares 2020 growth strategy

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure isn't just about IaaS, but all levels of the cloud. That's the message Oracle SVP Steve Daheb gave in this Q&A, along with the IT giant's 2020 plans.

At the start of 2020, Oracle's position in the IaaS market is much the same as it was last year: Well behind AWS, Microsoft and Google with no immediate signs of the gap closing significantly, even with the second-generation Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) platform in hand.

Oracle hasn't given up on IaaS but is now focused more on other layers of the cloud market where it has historically had success, namely databases and business applications.

In this interview, Oracle Cloud SVP Steve Daheb discusses how the company intends to find growth in the cloud by meeting customers where he says their needs truly are.

In October, Oracle said it would hire 2,000 people in support of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Can you update us on that plan? How many of the jobs are engineers versus sales and marketing?

Steve Daheb: It's mostly developers and engineers. We don't have a separate sales force selling infrastructure. We have an application sales force, and then we have one that sells tech, so that's going to be database, IoT, blockchain, development platforms.

Steve DahebSteve Daheb

Our field is trained to go in around specific use cases that a customer might be looking at and often, depending on that use case, it's going to be something that could span apps, PaaS and IaaS.

If we're talking about lifting and shifting databases, we're probably going to engage with an Autonomous Database discussion first, and then see what the right makeup is. And of course, that all runs on OCI anyway. Those 2,000 resources are going to continue to help building it out.

Oracle lags well behind competitors with market share, yet has plans to build OCI's global footprint to 36 regions by the end of this year. But some believe the battle for IaaS is far from over, with most workloads still on-premises. Beyond that, what is the rationale for this buildout?

Daheb: We've got 40,000 cloud customers that are running on it today. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is the foundation for everything. Customers might have multiple use cases all leveraging OCI, but it also runs most of our [Global Business Unit industry applications, which were largely acquired]. Forty of 60 GBU apps now run on OCI. We expect shortly they'll all be moved over. Our own applications run on OCI. Autonomous Database runs on OCI, and of course we have dedicated IaaS usage on OCI.

What we're trying not to do is conflate cloud with IaaS, because I think that's what's been happening a lot. But now, customers don't quite think of it in terms of those buckets. They think about an overall solution. And oftentimes, it's app- driven, or it's analytics-driven or it's security-driven. It might be net-new off-the-shelf apps or custom app development or lifting and shifting an application. Then you have the entire cloud infrastructure to go with you.

Another significant move Oracle made last year was the partnership with Microsoft on interoperability between OCI and Azure via a dedicated interconnect between your data centers. At the time, the companies said there would be a shared support model, but few details of how this will work were revealed publicly. Can you expand on it?

Daheb: One thing I'd say is it's a multi-cloud world, right? Customers are having to figure this out on their own anyway. I think we've just made it easier.

Customers are having to figure [multi-cloud] out on their own anyway. I think we've just made it easier.
Steve DahebSVP, Oracle

[Regarding support], if it's an Oracle-driven [sale], we will typically take point on that. If we need to pull in the appropriate Azure resources, we will, and vice versa, so we understand from an internal perspective who we need to involve, whether it's architectural or deployment or operational and ongoing.

We have those things in place to make that work, like you would any interoperability [arrangement]. I don't think we've reinvented anything there. But I think the thing to focus on is that it's still a lot better than customers trying to do it on their own. 

It's generally believed that a cloud platform's success rests substantially on how many developers it can attract. There are many developers invested in Oracle technologies such as Java, but in the on-premises world, so a transition needs to occur. An "always free" Oracle Cloud Infrastructure tier for developers launched at OpenWorld 2019. What else are you doing to get more developers into the fold?

We have had a big historical developer community, when you look at the likes of Java. We've been looking at recruiting new developers as well. So, our app dev [strategy] includes cloud native. It includes serverless. It includes all the new services around chatbots and blockchain and IoT and machine learning developer tool kits. You name it, you can develop it on Oracle. We've invested heavily in ensuring we had an equivalent broad toolset that includes not only Oracle but open source.

App dev on its own is great. But we're surrounded with a pretty robust ecosystem, as well as a pretty deep installed base. So, I think there's some good things there. At OpenWorld, we had our Code One event. We had thousands of developers attend that. We're going to even have an even bigger event that's focused on developers [at OpenWorld 2020]. We're taking Code One on the road, we're doing meetups. We're bringing people in to hack away at code. We're doing all the things we need to do. And I think at the end of the day, we'll be able to compete on the strength of the portfolio and the technology.

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