Big data and analytics are no longer the domain of IT exclusively; with so much of analytics driving the business, how has that changed Oracle's approach to how accessible and easy to read its applications are?
Rich Clayton: Analytics is shifting dramatically to where the role of IT is changing. IT can no longer be in an environment where you just provide the database platform or the analytical infrastructure. They actually need to be partnering more with the business to help them discover new data sources and identify patterns more effectively.
When Google started they didn't think their search results would be used for healthcare. Nor did Facebook think their feed would be used for personal security.
The relationship of IT is changing to be more proactive, they must use a more agile method for collaborating and information has to be more visually accessible. In the end we want the data to tell a story, we're trying to change an action.
What kind of problems are thrown up by the business wanting to use analytics, without having the expertise of IT?
Paul O'Riordan: The speed and performance available through new technologies and the consumption on mobile devices is very cool. [The iPad has] driven a whole new consumption model and as a supplier we have to up our ante in making sure we can meet these requirements.
One of the strengths but also one of the biggest weaknesses we have is that you can download applications from the cloud. You download onto your desktop and you can pay a tenner a month or whatever. That is fantastic in terms of adoption. It's high-risk in terms of integrity. Again if you're in a regulated body and there's a regulator looking for that data, if you haven't regulated that data in a proper manner then there's a risk that data stored on your desktop is erroneous, incorrect. That's one of the trade-offs that we've been seeing with businesses: this easy access but it can be wrong.
The problem for the CIO is he's saying 'you have to curate the data in the proper manner', but the business is saying 'I just want to download this thing'. There's an interesting tension that exists.
SAP recently postponed its operating margin deadline to make a push in the cloud sector. How is Oracle competing?
Clayton: In cloud you have a variety of different definitions and our focus is to offer not just applications in the cloud but also platform services in the cloud. You name the application area and we've introduced some type of cloud application.
What challenges does analytics face as a cloud service?
Clayton: Analytics hasn't really took off, it's very early on. That's because the value of analytics is directly proportional to the integration. Could you take a marketing automation application like Eloqua and provide an analytic application in the cloud? Yes. Is it of value? Only when you can tie that marketing activity to your customer base. You could tie it to your financial information, supply chain information. The thesis we have is integration equals more value and we didn't want to introduce an application that wouldn't allow for that integration.
Our analytic cloud strategy is three fold. One, platform as a service (PaaS) which is the database. Two, our analytic product [Exalytics] and then three, applications, or SaaS. So patched applications as a service, and the first one will be February 14, which is the planning cloud service that originally came from Hyperion.
Broadly analytics in the cloud is very early. Less than 10% of the market is there today. We think it will rapidly change but it's early on.
With big providers like Amazon Web Services on the market, would you consider integrating Exalytics with any of them?
Clayton: At Openworld we announced that our PaaS would be available on Windows Azure. To be honest it's early. I don't think that all of the ecosystem aspects have been sorted out. Clearly companies have preferences on some of the cloud infrastructure services, and we'll try to match market demand.
We'll have our own, and we do intend to use Exalytics as part of our cloud strategy because it's an integrated system designed for analytical performance, but it will be available three ways: on-premise, public cloud and private cloud. So customers can provision it in private cloud fashion, we can provision it per user per month, or they can buy the infrastructure and firewall and maintain it themselves.
O'Riordan: Cloud is a five-letter word that gets bandied round all over. But from an application perspective CRM and HR are the two applications that have pioneered in that area, but it's taken them a long time to get there.
And then you've got the PaaS which is probably the next thing after that. But there's still a huge, huge amount of on-premise. As a vendor we provide that capability and it's not one thing or the other.
Picture: Rich Clayton, courtesy of Steve Walker