Oracle Voice 12/20/2013
By: Alexander Wolfe
How does a technology powerhouse top its leadership in everything from databases to cloud? If you’re Oracle, you move the needle by rearchitecting your flagship database, elevating hardware performance with a new SPARC processor and in-memory engineered systems, and owning emerging areas like big data, human capital management, and customer experience. Those are just a few of the highlights of our year-end look back in which we enumerate some of the significant advances achieved in 2013. Here’s our list:
Oracle Database 12c owns the cloud. Can you say multitenancy? Then you’re speaking the language of the next-generation Oracle Database 12c. It boasts a completely revamped architecture, which serves as the foundation for Oracle’s extensive set of cloud services. The dual benefits of consolidation and simplification are delivered by multitenancy, which enables users to fold their existing databases into a shared “container” in the cloud and to manage it all as one .
As well, the multitenant architecture enables IT teams to instantly provision new databases (including cloning existing ones). This greatly enhances the ability of businesses to deliver, for example, improved customer experiences (CX) and get new services deployed quickly, without impacting production environments or necessitating lengthy dev cycles.
As Andy Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracle Database Server Technologies, explained it when Oracle Database 12c went into general availability in July: “Customers get all of the advantages of a new database optimized for cloud computing without having to rip or replace existing apps and simultaneously disrupt the processes managed by those apps.”
Internet of Things connects billions of devices. You may not be ready for the Internet of Things, but the Internet of Things is ready for you. Did you know that the 9 billion devices connected to the Internet today will rise to nearly 50 billion over the next few years? Many of these are smartphones and tablets, but IoT increasingly encompasses digital utility meters, appliances and even cars. Machine-to-machine (M2M) intelligence emerges as such devices send data back to the enterprise, where it’s analyzed to surface information of business value.
Deutsche Telekom is already taking one such solution to market. In 5,000 farms throughout Europe, sensors monitor the body temperature of cows, so that veterinarians don’t have to expend time and gas driving from farm to farm to check on them to determine when pregnant cows are due to give birth. Instead, the M2M network automatically sends the vets text messages when a calf is coming.
That’s one small example, but as Oracle chief communications officer Bob Evans noted in The Internet of Things: Will M2M Transform Your Company or Kill It?, the M2M future is rushing toward us much faster than most of us can anticipate. How to deal? Among the items Bob suggests companies study : How to tap into the limitless sensor data unleashed by IoT/M2M; how 50 billion interconnected devices will change distribution channels; how to make products and services more intelligent; and how to maintain competitive advantage in such a turbulent environment.
Oracle tops IBM to take silver in software sales. Buoyed by continued growth in its software business, Oracle in October surged past IBM to become the number two software company in the world. (Microsoft is number one.) “We will continue to develop innovative software products and related cloud services in pursuit of becoming number one,” Oracle President Safra Catz said in the press release announcing the milestone.
While such software numbers probably aren’t much of a surprise, it might surprise some to note that Oracle’s SaaS revenue run rate is over $1 billion annually, making Oracle a strong number two in cloud applications.
Cloud services accelerate. The biggest cloud computing announcement of 2013 came at Oracle OpenWorld in September, where Oracle announced 10 new cloud services. The intent is to continue to build out a rich SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS portfolio touching all levels of the cloud stack. As John Foley reported, the additions will enhance the options of a cloud customer base that already includes 10,000 companies, generating 18 billion transactions a day. The new services include cloud services specifically targeted at running Java apps, simplying enterprise connectivity for mobile devices, running enterprise-class business intelligence, ands synching and sharing documents. (For the full list, go here.)
Database as a Service emerges as the next big thing in cloud. Market analysts are bullish on DBaaS, predicting an astounding 86% cumulative annual growth rate, with annual revenues from DBaaS providers rising from $150 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion by 2016. As I noted in “Why Database As A Service (DBaaS) Will Be The Breakaway Technology of 2014,” DBaaS is gaining converts because it enables businesses to deploy new databases quickly, securely, and cheaply. Along with speed, uptake is being driven by the simplification-and-centralization play where, multiple databases can efficiently sharing underlying resources and be managed from a centralized console. Product-wise, Oracle’s DBaaS offering provides dedicated database instances of Oracle Database 11g or 12c running on Oracle VM virtualization.
SPARC showcases hardware innovation. We’ve mostly talked about software in this post. Yet Oracle has been the steward of a rich hardware tradition since acquiring Sun Microsystems in 2010. Perhaps surprisingly, Oracle has spent the past four years aggressively iterating on the SPARC microprocessor architecture, to the point where the innovation evident in the new SPARC M6 surpasses anything competing architectures can throw at it. (This harkens back to the mid-1990s, when a half-dozen chip designs furious vied for attention.)
As I reported in How SPARC M6 Accelerates Terabyte-Scale Computing, the M6 has 12 physical cores—twice that of the current-generation M5. By applying virtualization, it can take those dozen cores and execute 96 separate threads. Beyond its sheer performance, the M6 is notable because, as we’ll see in our next 2013 highlight, it forms the hardware backbone of Oracle’s engineered systems strategy.
In-memory computing goes big. The aforementioned processor powers two so-called “big memory” machines introduced in 2013. The SPARC M6-32 server and the SuperCluster M6-32 engineered system get the big-memory appellation not just because they can be configured with up to 32-terabytes of RAM. It’s about what the memory allows the systems to do—they can run entire applications and databases in-memory. Because this sidesteps the time-sucking latency attendant to fetching instructions and data from disk, the engineered systems can deliver unprecedented performance. “With our big memory machines you can run huge databases and applications in memory to accelerate performance 10 or 20 times, and experience mainframe-like reliability without paying the high premiums built into other vendor’s high-end systems,” is how John Fowler, Oracle executive vice president of systems, explained it.
Oracle enables the social enterprise. Twitter, Facebook and other platforms initially associated with the sharing of stupid pet videos have grown up. They’re now being enlisted by companies seeking to enhance their brands and connect with customers current and future. However, as I noted in #SocialShakeUp Stirring Brands To Build Better Customer Experiences, it’s taking time for businesses to advance from initial toe-dipping in social waters into fully formed strategies. In part, it’s a generational thing. The socially savvy Millennials have to educate their middle-manager colleagues, who in turn have to turn on the C-Suiters. That’s beginning to happen, and organizations everywhere are upping their games, as evident in my posts 25 Twitter Feeds Every Oracle User Should Follow and 25 More Twitter Feeds Every Oracle User Should Follow.
Big Data breaks out. Big data is getting so big that a major, looming challenge is “coming to agreement on the right words to describe what lies beyond a yottabyte, which is a septillion bytes.” (See “Extreme Big Data: Beyond Zettabytes And Yottabytes.”) Such numbers don’t emerge from thin air. The big data firehose funnels raw bits from those 9 billion devices currently connected to the Internet. Every e-commerce interact adds to the pile, providing a rich pool for companies to analyze, in search of patterns that can lead to improved CX.
As Paul Sonderegger, Oracle’s big-data strategist, explained it in a recent post: “The big data flywheel is open to any company that can see the data exhaust created by interactions with customers, suppliers—even its own employees—and is willing to experiment with refining, analyzing, and injecting that data back into business processes to do and decide things better.”
Human Capital Management (HCM ) gets a seat in the boardroom. Human resources, the department every employee has long loved to hate, is being reborn as a strategic partner in service of business acceleration. As I noted in HR Transformation Elevating Human Capital Management To C-Suite, the new-found heft comes from HCM tech tools—many in the cloud—that support not just recruitment, but talent retention, performance management, and succession planning. As Erica Volini, Principal and HR Transformation Leader at Deloitte Consulting, put it in her talk at HCM @ OpenWorld in September it’s all about how organizations use HCM to enable their business strategies. This stuff is so important it’s expected to lead to the rise of the HR Chief Operating Officer.
Paradoxically, the transition to a deterministic personnel assessment model could spur changes in the composition of HR teams. “Are you really ready to change the skill sets of your HR professionals?,” Volini said in her conference keynote. “Maybe you’re better off rotating people in from other parts of the business. “Those are some of the challenges chief human resource officers will face.”