While the timid lag, bold businesses counter volatility with cloud investments, Oracle CEO Safra Catz says

October 18, 2022 | 4 minute read
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Oracle CEO Safra Catz addresses Oracle CloudWorld 2022

Organizations burdened by three years of economic upheaval, much of it pandemic-related, have found little respite from volatility. Yet the most resilient of them are investing in cloud technologies to try to emerge stronger than before, Oracle CEO Safra Catz told the company’s customers and industry partners.

“We have all been through a lot together. What we learned during COVID is it’s absolutely critical to have a digital connection with your customers, your employees, your suppliers, and your partners,” Catz said during her keynote address at the company’s Oracle CloudWorld conference in Las Vegas on October 18. “Being bold is the way to win. Being timid can wipe you out.”

Executives from Deutsche Bank, NVIDIA, Johnson Controls, toy-maker Melissa & Doug, baker Grupo Bimbo, and Formula 1 team Oracle Red Bull Racing joined Catz onstage as she spoke with them about technology changes they’re making to anticipate and adapt to changing market conditions and customer expectations. “Moving slowly is dangerous,” Catz said.

Deutsche Bank, for example, is moving thousands of Oracle databases that underpin its key trading, risk management, and capital planning software to versions running on high-performance Oracle Exadata Cloud@Customer appliances that Oracle is managing in the bank’s data centers. That migration will help the bank cut hundreds of millions of euros in costs over several years while also helping it stay compliant with data protection rules worldwide.

Volatile financial markets mean increased transaction volumes, which are driving demand for more—and more sophisticated—computing, storage, and data management technologies, said Deutsche Bank CTO Gordon Mackechnie. So are complex trading workloads and industry regulations.

Letting Oracle manage its huge database workloads in a private cloud environment helps Deutsche Bank keep customers’ data safe and cut costs as it competes with traditional banks, fintechs, and large technology companies, Mackechnie said. The Exadata Cloud@Customer deployment also delivers lower network latency compared with public cloud services, key for banking services that require nearly real-time responses to market events.

“Professionalized” IT

As organizations worldwide grapple with slower growth and high inflation, moving to cloud versions of business software applications and infrastructure can lead to cost savings they can channel into R&D, executives said.

Melissa & Doug, a maker of wooden play sets and other children’s toys, turned to Oracle Cloud ERP applications a year and a half ago to close its books as it grew from a small company using software developed in-house to selling 70 million toys a year. Now it’s getting new application features every three months and is expanding its Oracle Cloud application footprint to manage its supply chain and manufacturing operations.

“Our products are screen-free, but we do believe in technology,” said CFO Lee Tsukroff. “In volatile markets, the ability for us to move quickly and create value is really important to us.”

CIO Michael Macrie said picking Oracle Cloud ERP—Melissa & Doug also runs Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)—“professionalized” its operations. “It lets us take every dollar we save in the back office and reinvest it” in developing toys, he said.

Baking in technology

Mexican bakery conglomerate Grupo Bimbo, which makes Entenmann’s cakes and Thomas’ English muffins, turned to Oracle Cloud ERP for a different reason: to consolidate disparate applications it had accumulated through acquisitions.

Among the company’s goals are to improve its ability to extract data-based insights on how to operate more efficiently and produce fresher products, said CIO Raúl Obregón. Grupo Bimbo, which operates 206 bakeries worldwide, is also looking to reduce application management costs as it grapples with rising energy and ingredient costs, Obregón said.

Johnson Controls, which makes electronics for managing buildings’ heating, cooling, security, and fire-detection systems, is using Oracle Cloud applications for field equipment service to get the right technicians and best data to customer sites. The company, which like Grupo Bimbo had inherited disparate IT systems and processes through acquisitions, brought in Oracle applications to standardize processes for accounting, manufacturing, and delivery, CIO Diane Schwarz said.

Revved-up workloads

In his on-stage discussion with Oracle’s Catz, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang described how Oracle is adding tens of thousands of NVIDIA graphics processing chips to OCI. The goal of the partnership is to help customers train AI models containing as many as hundreds of billions of variables—then apply what the systems learn to speed scientific research, drug discovery, and other computing-intensive applications.

“The writing’s on the wall, the trends are clear: All workloads in the future will be accelerated,” Huang said. NVIDIA plans to make AI applications and development tools for healthcare, which it sells under the Clara brand name, available on OCI.

Outside the corporate world, Oracle Cloud technologies are having a major impact in high-speed auto racing. Oracle Red Bull Racing CEO Christian Horner told Catz the Formula 1 team is gaining a competitive advantage by using Oracle Cloud technologies to increase the number of simulations it runs to inform in-race decisions.

Oracle Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen won the F1 driver’s title last year on the final race of the season, and he clinched this year’s title on October 9. Oracle Red Bull Racing also sits atop the team table.

Horner discussed how Oracle also is working with Red Bull Powertrains to develop a new engine set to debut in 2026. The company will use OCI to optimize modeling of a combustion chamber to reduce costs while upping performance. An advantage, he said, is “not to have to wait for a data center to be onsite.”

Aaron Ricadela

Aaron Ricadela is a senior director at Oracle. He was previously a business journalist at Bloomberg News, BusinessWeek, and InformationWeek. You can follow him on Twitter @ricadela1.

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