Oracle wants to get all of its 4,000 on-premise customers in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region on to the cloud in the next two years.
It is a challenging task but Arun Khehar, senior vice-president for business applications at Oracle for Middle East, Africa and India,said in an exclusive interview with TechRadar Middle East that it is possible and that is his target.
“I am pretty charged up and in the next 16 months we have a lot to gain if we do things right than any other cloud providers,” he said.
Khehar wants more than 1,000 of its on-premise customers to move to the cloud this year. Out of the 4,000 customers, around 70% are based in the UAE.
700 live cloud customers in region
Khehar is confident that the opening of a data centre in Abu Dhabi in February this year has helped the company in many ways.
“In the past, selling would have taken weeks but the UAE data centre has made it easy and big names are joining on board,” he said.
Oracle has more than 700 live cloud customers in Middle East and Africa region, including Emaar Group, Fine Hygiene Holding, Landmark Group and DP World, to name a few.
“Lot of our customers doesn’t even ask where the data centre is going to be, apart from the regulated industries such as public sectors, financial and banking sectors and telecom. For us, we want to take the whole piece and don’t want to leave any grey areas for any individuals,” he said.
The industries for which the local data residency matters, he said: “We have the answer and we give customers the choice”.
Where the data lies is not a criterion anymore
“For me, where the data centre is not a criterion anymore. Data centre discussions take 10% of my time these days while the rest of the time goes to how to move a company, what are the complexities, what are the challenges, mapping part and the study, and customers need to understand why he is moving,” he said.
It is a huge task to take somebody from a four- or five-year technology to futuristic technology, he said and added that data centre is a huge catalyst for on-premise customers to move to the cloud as they can expand beyond their geographies and it can be done only through internet and cloud.
“Business issues have become critical and digital transformation has become a much bigger issue than where the data is going to reside. What Oracle is doing differently from its competitors and which only Oracle can do is the offering of end-to-end solutions,” he said.
In the good old days, Khehar said that Oracle used to sell the CD and leave but now, “we sell it, service it, implement it, run it, upgrade it and secure it. So, you have one neck to catch if anything goes wrong. We are into a service business now”.
40% of its revenues come from installed base
Oracle earns 40% of its revenues from the installed base and the rest from new clients.
“If I need to convert all my 4,000 customers to the cloud, I don’t need to look outside. There is so much to do from the inside,” he said.
“Our strategy is to make sure we get more of our installed base on to the cloud. We are reshaping to do more and why more? We have the base today and big names have kick-started today. The cloud renewal rate is at an all-time high and that is the key measure for us today,” he said.
Moreover, he said that Oracle can do more as it has more skills on the ground, more people on the ground and more references to show than it did three years ago.
“During the economic downturn in 2007, we did more business than years before. Companies were getting to the next level of automation because they had time internally due to slow business. This year also, it is expected to happen the same as companies are looking at their operational cost more than they did before,” he said.
Over 1,100 applications on the cloud
Oracle has a Future Lab at Dubai Internet City where customers can get a flavour of how it will work in the cloud if they come with their data.
“They can see a proof of concept locally within hours, instead of what would have taken normally six to seven weeks. We are bringing the cost of ownership down by between 30% and 37%, without adding the indirect cost,” he said.
Khehar boasts that Oracle has more than 1,100 applications on the cloud and no vendor has the length and breadth of Oracle.
The US giant is expected to open its next data centre in Saudi Arabia this year.
“Data centre is needed for Saudi Arabia because of the regulated industries and we want to make sure our checklist is complete,” he said.