By Keith Rayner
Oracle's global market leadership comes from a longstanding tradition of innovation and groundbreaking technological leadership at the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the world's first high-tech clusters. In China, Oracle has also been an integral part of developing a high-tech hub through its foundational work at Beijing’s Haidian University district in the Zhongguancun Software Park.
The Oracle Blog recently interviewed Pascal Sero, vice president of Oracle’s Asia Research and Development Center, and Peishan Zhang, regional project manager of Oracle’s Asia-Pacific region, about Oracle’s operations in Beijing.
Why did Oracle set up in the Zhongguancun Software Park?
Pascal Sero: Oracle has been in China since 1986, and subsequent construction of the R&D Center campus is a very concrete representation of our long-term commitment to China. Discussions for the campus started in 2000, and in fact Oracle was the first major IT company to really define the broader software park. The closest building was two miles away, so Oracle needed to be visionary. The exact spot for Oracle’s offices was chosen by Larry Ellison, in part because of the lake which mirrored the main campus in Silicon Valley’s Redwood Shores. We were followed onto the park by Huawei, IBM, Lenovo, Baidu, and others, so this has really created a community here.
How integrated are you with Oracle worldwide, and what contribution to tech advancement are you making?
Sero: China is definitely part of the global team. The R&D Center employs around 2,000 people, 85% of whom are R&D engineers. The team enjoys regular talks from visiting HQ dev teams to hear about new and future developments. What we develop here is not all China-specific. The R&D centers globally are not so much location-specific, but rather more skills-specific. For example, we have a usability center where we conduct hands-on research with focus groups and take video of subjects.
What areas of development are specifically focused on the China market?
Sero: The Oracle Solution Center is our customer-facing facility where we provide demos and proofs- of-concept for local customers, where they can come to the Solution Center and work with experts for a couple of weeks at a time. We also work with more than 100 local ISVs to certify their software applications that run on Oracle’s operating systems and databases, or integrate with Oracle’s applications. On the other side of the coin, Oracle has to integrate with Chinese IT systems, most notably with social media ecosystems. These have developed into much more than simple messaging services or sites for social postings. They are integrated with commercial payments systems for cash transfers between friends, payment of public utility bills, mobile phone account top-up, coupons and electronic passes, and a whole lot more, so we are making continuous efforts in this area.
What are the different architectural design elements that make the R&D Center a great work environment?
Peishan Zhang: The Oracle campus is self-contained, and staff spends a lot of time here, so it’s important that everyone has a pleasant work environment and can have pretty much all our daily needs met on campus. The facilities are quite extensive with a cafe, two canteens, and a gym. The building is on three floors, so it’s designed to be easy to move between floors. It’s a green campus, following international standards, with a focus on energy efficiency. All lighting is LED and there are full glass walls so we can enjoy a lot of sunlight. The air conditioning can both heat and cool, so from morning through to the evening the environment can be maintained at a very comfortable level.
It seems like there’s a strong community here and also a broader connection with China.
Zhang: Indeed, the Oracle China campus is built to Silicon Valley standards to help foster a great sense of community. As with the Redwood Shores campus, we have a lot of land and a large lake. From spring to autumn, staff spends a lot of leisure hours on the campus grounds enjoying the sunshine, often with their families. We can also enjoy the shade of peach trees and other fruit trees, and the variety gives a different flavor to each season. All in all, the campus makes us all feel part of the fabric of Oracle China, but also makes us realize we’re all global citizens.
The Zhongguancun Software Park has become synonymous with China’s version of Silicon Valley, in part thanks to Larry Ellison and Oracle’s vision of a global connected market.
Keith Rayner is senior corporate communications manager for Oracle.