IT Innovation

Engineered for Heroes

Stark Industries uses Oracle Cloud to manage global operations—and train heroes.

By Rich Schwerin

May/June 2013

Getting a briefing at Stark Industries to talk technology was proving to be no easy task. After weeks of rescheduling with Stark Industries owner Tony Stark and CEO Pepper Potts, Oracle Magazine asked to get the briefing from Stark Industries’ new CIO, Brittany Carter. Carter quickly agreed to the request, but the briefing location was confusing. Her answer to where the exchange would take place was, “Wherever you want. That’s a key point of our latest news and the information I want to share in this briefing.”

A minute before the scheduled briefing time, Oracle Magazine staffers were in a Stark Industries public relations office, but no one from Stark Industries was present. When the briefing time arrived, multiple screens lit up on the far wall—which had looked like a plain, solid wall just a minute ago. Each screen featured different Stark Industries executives. Stark and Potts were talking to each other in one screen—apparently having a disagreement about something.

Stark Industries CIO Brittany Carter appeared on the center screen of the media wall.

“Welcome to Stark Industries. Thank you all for coming. As you know, Stark is a global technology leader, which is why we wanted to work with the like-minded experts at Oracle. In fact, this real-time collaboration is possible through the social networking services of Oracle Cloud, and that’s what we’d like to talk about today,” Carter announced.

We were meeting with Carter following Stark Industries’ press release about its commitment to Oracle Cloud. Although Stark Industries can be a secretive organization, guarding a wealth of intellectual and physical property, the organization was quick to get the word out that using Oracle Cloud made Stark Industries even more innovative, flexible, and secure.

“With Oracle Cloud, there’s no difference between our field offices and various regional HQ facilities. All our employees are issued mobile devices with the appropriate credentials needed to access Oracle Cloud and only the information they need to access. No one is going to spill coffee on a departmental server, no office janitor is going to unplug a mission-critical system, and no hostile incursion is going to take out our data center. Oracle Cloud is taking Stark Industries’ operational efficiency, team collaboration, user productivity, and security to unprecedented levels,” offered Carter.

Cloud Training

Carter looked down and appeared to move her hand. Several of the media wall screens changed to show a series of slides and presentation graphics.

“As part of our Oracle Cloud announcement, we’re pleased to inform you that Stark Industries Cloud Training has been completed for all Stark Industries field agents as well as S.H.I.E.L.D. [Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division] agents and is now being offered to select emergency-response organizations around the world. This training is just what it sounds like: participants are required to gain access to a portion of Stark Industries’ Oracle Cloud services from wherever we send them, using the equipment and resources they are provided, can find, and can connect to,” began Carter.

The screens changed to show different environments.

“Most Stark Industries operations are about information and construction or rescue—not police or military action. The solutions in our cloud training scenarios are surprisingly similar, because the connection, information, and collaboration challenges are similar in most of our operations,” Carter continued.

Several media wall screens started rotating through different physical environments, many of them dark, remote locations.

“In our cloud training environments, we provide each trainee with some miscellaneous tech—some of that is state-of-the-art survival gear provided by Tony Stark—and task her or him with a significant goal that’s going to require collaboration with Stark Industries and other organizations, the gathering of information from Oracle Cloud and other datasources, and the coordination and completion of a project that has a significant impact at that location,” Carter described.

Several of the screens changed again to show organization charts and HR representations of Stark Industries personnel.

“For every Stark Industries trainee, we use Oracle Cloud HCM [human capital management] and talent management services. We get them set up, we make sure they’re qualified to participate, and we track and measure their results. And Stark Industries gets and shares that information in Oracle Cloud and uses it for future assignments, promotions, and so on. But what the trainees do with Oracle Cloud in their training projects is always more creative and collaborative. No two trainees have come up with the same Oracle Cloud solutions, and many trainee solutions have been identified as best practices and are used to provision other Stark Industries IT operations,” said Carter.

One of the media wall screens changed to display a list of Oracle Cloud services. “All trainees are expected to use Oracle Database Cloud Service and Oracle Java Cloud Service to complete their training. Oracle Database is the most powerful information software on the planet, and Java is the most powerful development framework and language, so we don’t get any complaints on those requirements,” Carter added.

Another screen changed to show a list of recently completed training exercises.

“I think the best way to explain how Stark Industries succeeds with Oracle Cloud is to show you one of our training scenarios in action,” said Carter. “So we’ve selected highlights from a scenario that demonstrates this success. Let me walk you through this recap.”

Several media wall screens changed to show information on one Stark Industries field agent.

“Field Agent Janet Jones passed her first four trainings with flying colors, and we keep track of her impressive performance through Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management Cloud Service,” explained Carter. “Now let’s see how she performs under extreme pressure.”

All of the screens changed, showing a dark, snow-covered, and heavily wooded area scene that covered the wall.

72 Hours

As the recap video rolled, the dense woods gave way to a clearing with extensive debris, and Agent Jones got to work on her tablet.

“For her final training exercise, Agent Jones has just 72 hours to clear the debris, assemble new structures, arrange transportation and communications, and host a secure conference onsite,” explained Carter. “And it all begins with Oracle Cloud.”

The recap continued with a mission clock counting down from 72 hours in the lower right screen and Jones logging on to her Oracle Cloud account and communicating with her Stark colleagues through an Oracle Social Network Cloud Service conversation, where she shared the pertinent details, coordinates, requirements, and assignments. One hour into her mission—and a minute into the recap—experts in construction, logistics, transportation, energy, and environment were on the job.

“At this point, our agent knows she has a massive amount of disparate data to securely host and access, so she quickly sets up an Oracle Database Cloud Service instance,” Carter offered, digitally highlighting Jones’ use of the integrated Oracle Cloud interface on her tablet.

“With the database ready, Agent Jones gets access to some data and provides access to other data, all within Stark Industries security guidelines. Jones transfers some data to the new Oracle Database Cloud Service, and creates new information access as needed,” said Carter.

The recap video jumped ahead, and the mission clock showed 70 hours remaining.

“Now all the mission participants need a way to access the data Jones is making available, use it, update it, make decisions based on it, and more, so Agent Jones sets up Oracle Java Cloud Service to build, test, and deploy an application,” offered Carter, highlighting Agent Jones’ use of the Oracle Java Cloud Service interface on her tablet. “Jones is reusing some Stark Industries Java application design patterns and frameworks and collaborating with the company’s development and QA teams to deliver secure, device-independent Java-based apps to manage the custom business processes for this mission.”

As the recap video jumped again, this time to 60 hours remaining, heavy equipment arrived via Stark Industries’ fleet of military-grade heavy transport helicopters, and the debris was quickly cleared. The secure pop-up spaces arrived, along with scores of architecture and construction experts. The nearest fire roads were checked, cleared, and regraded for the planned traffic, and temporary helipads were fabricated for the conference guests’ arrival.

Zero Hour

The recap video jumped forward again, and the mission clock changed to show only 8 hours remaining.

“Jones is now in the final testing phase. Oracle Cloud connections are secure, and information in Oracle Cloud is available to the right people through the right Oracle Cloud–based applications. And the Oracle Database Cloud Service is serving up the extreme performance we’ve come to expect from Oracle Cloud,” Carter explained.

As the recap video concluded, the mission clock showed 00:00 time remaining, and Jones was working with an onsite security team to confirm the security credentials of guests—using Oracle Cloud. Hundreds of people were gathered at a conference center that was not a center of anything but wilderness just three days earlier.

“Thanks to Oracle Cloud, Agent Jones helped Stark Industries collaborate with distributed teams, secure and access the necessary data, quickly clear and rebuild the site, and successfully pull off this event,” concluded Carter. “This is typical of the challenges Stark Industries faces every day, and our agents must be prepared to respond.”
Who’s with Me?

As the simulation recap ended, the media wall screens changed again, this time back to their original state, looking like a solid wall. And standing right there in front of the wall was Stark Industries CIO Brittany Carter.

“So as you can see, Stark Industries’ commitment to Oracle Cloud is ironclad, and with good reason,” Carter explained. “We’re tapping the industry’s broadest set of standards-based, integrated services—application, social, platform, and infrastructure—all completely managed, hosted, and supported by Oracle. And given the mission-critical nature of our business, we didn’t have time to waste on integrating across multiple clouds.”

Carter continued, “Since it’s backed by an enterprise-grade infrastructure delivering extreme performance—Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic—we like to say Oracle Cloud is engineered for heroes.”

Carter checked her watch. The briefing was already running overtime, and she let us know she had to get to her next meeting. Just then, the door opened, and in walked Stark Industries owner Tony Stark, a bit perturbed. “OK, Oracle Magazine, you’ve had enough time with Carter in the cloud. Still skeptical? Then why not give it a whirl? I’ve just modified that final training simulation so you can test your mettle firsthand. So how ’bout it, who’s with me? Any editorial heroes-in-waiting ready for training?”

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Photography byJoshua Hoehne,Unsplash