Times are tough, and companies are searching for answers. Increasingly, they're turning to the cloud, a technology platform that allows them to react more spontaneously to global economic events and the new normal of digital disruption, razor-thin margins, and the demands of a more fickle generation.
Oracle CEO Safra Catz recently said it best: "Today with modern cloud applications, we finally have the technology that's compelling [both] technically and from a commercial point of view. We have the potential of doing more and spending less doing it."
While in India earlier this month, Catz said Oracle—like many of its customers—is heeding what she called "the call to the cloud" because of the clear economic and business benefits. But companies must also consider their existing investments, complex software customizations, and business processes when planning their cloud moves, she said.
So what are some of these changes companies are making, and why?
One thing is clear: Cloud apps offer a glaring speed-of-innovation advantage over conventional software, letting companies add new software features every few months, compared to every three to four years with software maintained on premises. In fact, this speed of innovation is the single most important benefit companies get from cloud software, according to Steve Miranda, Oracle's executive vice president for applications development. The much faster cadence of cloud innovation is much closer to the speed of business—and to today's customer expectations for change.
There are other cloud advantages besides speed of innovation, of course, such as lowering a company's total IT operating costs by freeing IT staffers from having to deploy, patch, and support on-premises apps. But "speed and the need to innovate with applications is much more important," Miranda told a gathering of business technology leaders at a recent Oracle CloudWorld event in New York City.
Much of this speed is fueled by PaaS, which allows businesses to extend cloud applications that by definition can't be customized. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd has said that as cloud platform, software, and infrastructure capabilities mature and customers get more comfortable using them, 100% of at least one common business IT practice—development and testing, or so-called dev-test—will take place in the cloud within 10 years. Hurd sees the cloud potentially delivering $150 billion in cost savings to businesses, as companies pay only for the resources they need and use.
A new data center in Abu Dhabi will enable Oracle to better manage service levels and respond to local customers that, for a variety of reasons including data governance requirements, need their data to be in close geographic proximity.
Times are indeed difficult and uncertain, but at the very least, the cloud platform is proving itself an able partner to companies that choose to accelerate their speed of innovation.