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Oracle recently announced new industry-focused products designed to migrate its customers to the cloud, as well as an Adaptive Intelligence offering, which marks the company's foray into cognitive computing. BNamericas spoke to Joe Fuster, Oracle's Global Head of Customer Experience (CX) Cloud, at the recent Oracle Day in Santiago, Chile, to get more details on these developments.
BNamericas: How significant is the cloud to digital transformation?
Fuster: Initially the excitement was putting software in the cloud. Then people started thinking more broadly about digital transformation. I see large organizations acknowledging digital transformation and starting to work on mobile and social, and providing access to their services 24/7, 365 days a year through digital platforms. Now people are starting to think, How do I bring this sort of digital transformation to my existing service and combine it with applications in the cloud?
In Latin America, the acceptance of the notion of digital is real. People no longer want to use cloud in a silo but want to use multiple clouds. Country by country, industry by industry people are no longer just talking about it but doing it.
BNamericas: Why did you launch industry-specific clouds at Oracle World?
Fuster: Oracle is learning from its past. When we originally brought out the Siebel CRM, it was a horizontal, cross-industry application. Over the last decade it has become tailored per use case so much that there is a version of Siebel used by each industry. Now they want to take it to the cloud and do more than just manage records, but engage with them. We still need the industry vertical expertise and very specific applications. For example, direct store delivery in the retail industry is very unique in terms of how that application has to perform and what you need to add to the data model.
Think of automotive and high tech and manufacturing; you go to market with a specific partner or dealer every time. So Oracle is harvesting all this rich content we have and applying it to our cloud and building cloud by cloud. Soon you'll look to life sciences and know that a pharmaceutical visit needs things like sample management and clinical trials to really go fast into the cloud. Bringing these experiences out of other areas is going to change how quickly you can transform and move to the cloud.
BNamericas: Which verticals will you focus on?
Fuster: The first five out of 12 that we have on the drawing board are available today: automotive; high tech and manufacturing; CPG and retail; communications, and financial services. Next up will be process manufacturing, life sciences with a healthcare specialization into the public sector, higher education.
BNamericas: There is general industry consensus that hybrid clouds are the future; that cloud solutions providers must recognize their clients will host different areas of their businesses in multi-cloud environments.
Fuster: That is true; there is no single all-private or all-public cloud strategy. Furthermore, what is changing are the legislative environments country by country, region by region, about what has to stay in a private cloud or on premise and what can be in a public cloud. Based on that we brought out this notion of a cloud machine.
I can take an instance of my public cloud, put it onto a hardware, software utility appliance, put it in your datacenter, behind your firewall and then administer it like a public cloud. It means you get to subscribe to it. It's not a capital asset purchase, it's a subscription, so the speed and innovation of the cloud is going to come to you, but the actual physical, legal requirement that you have for the data behind your firewall and on premise, can be met. So we are really looking at this idea of our public cloud running not only on Oracle but on applications of other vendors. We're doing the same with private cloud. You can choose to have us administer it as a service or if you want to procure it and have it dedicated, we can manage that too.
BNamericas: Security is a key part of managing services in the cloud. What are the biggest challenges?
Fuster: The complexity of security is the biggest challenge because it is multi-vector; you can get attacked and hacked from so many different directions. Historically, security happened at the data base level and then it was further refined at the application level. We realized that when problems occurred, people hadn't even turned on the security protection capabilities they had. So first of all, we said, we'll turn on all of the security on and customers can configure it by turning parts off. The second thing we did was to take a look at the hardware itself. Some of the most ingenious and creative hacks occur when you over buffer, down at the chip layer. Oracle has now introduced a series of chips to the market that don't allow over buffering. If we can put the security well below even the data base, on the silicon, then it helps secure every layer of the stack. We have it at the hardware, physical, level, we're offering it at the platform level - we always had world class security at the data base level - and now it's also there at the application level.
BNamericas: Oracle also announced it's getting into cognitive computing. How will your Adaptive Intelligence differ from IBM's Watson? And how is cognitive computing offering something more than traditional predictive analytics tools?
Fuster: Rule-based systems have been around for a long time. The next step was supposed to be, can I become more predictive and not be just rules based? What has changed the game for good is actually the amount of transactions that are public; the amount of third-party data that is now available to be analyzed which can provide context to predictions.
It's a combination of data science and machine learning, and the machine learning helps me take the action. We listen to 3 trillion social transactions a day. We put that into a categorization of over 45,000 calculations, every single day. What is different about the Oracle approach from Watson is that we're thinking of adding it to existing apps. Oracle has both the algorithms and the data. We're going to put them together, then add an API access level to it so you can put a wiki in that app. You can ask questions and get answers. It's not just a black box like Watson or a series of algorithms, but rather all of the data science combined with the machine learning we do every day. At Oracle World we said Adaptive Intelligence will be an option at the end of this year. Now it's being tested by clients.
BNamericas: How does this dovetail with the internet of things?
Fuster: We look not only at the consumption and operating environment a machine is in, but also the consumption of things throughout its development cycle. So when a tractor gets to the end of the field, technicians should be ready and waiting with the parts for the failure you've already anticipated. When the mining equipment is in a high-density environment, you should know that the hours of usage will be fewer and be prepared.
With this enormous amount of information that is being generated, you can start seeing patterns and predict similar behaviors for entirely different sets of situations. By using IoT data throughout a large chemical plant, you can predict failure and maintenance, but also start modeling the next plant. It becomes IoT on steroids. We think there is enormous capacity for the data cloud to bring real value because the amount of data is mind-numbing.
About Joe Fuster
Jose Fuster has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry, including senior leadership roles at SAP, Salesforce and Siebel. As the leader of the Oracle CX Cloud go-to-market, Fuster is responsible for driving growth of integrated services across data, applications, platform, and infrastructure.
About the company
Oracle primarily specializes in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered systems and enterprise software products. In 2015 Oracle was the second-largest software maker by revenue, after Microsoft.