Conversations with Oracle Innovators

Q&A with Mark Wilcox

Mark WilcoxOracle Innovator

Oracle Virtual Directory's Identity Publisher
Oracle Virtual Directory's Identity Publisher is a tool that provides users with a universal directory to reduce the complexity of keeping data from multiple systems up-to-date and accurate. With Identity Publisher, users no longer have to worry about synchronizing data and the legal and accuracy issues associated with copying data back and forth between systems.

Principal Product Manager
Location: Little Elm, Texas
Product: Oracle Virtual Directory Identity Publisher

Q: What's innovative about Oracle Virtual Directory's Identity Publisher?

A: The genesis of Identity Publisher came from recognizing that a lot of our customers have numerous Oracle applications and products. Say, for example, a customer deployed an application to manage HR data and the accounts payable team, using another Web application, needed access to the data. In the past, we would have had to complete some processes to get the data out of one system, copy it, and update it for the second system. Problems could result if accounts were not updated carefully. Identity Publisher, via the virtual directory, reduces the complexity of managing data because data no longer has to be synchronized.

Q: How do you define innovation?

A: Innovation is a process that results in something tangible that improves people's lives.

Q: What's the most innovative project you've worked on at Oracle?

A: Oracle Virtual Directory, because it totally changed how people could manage identity. Before, you always had to copy data. With Oracle Virtual Directory, you avoid this. It also connects to nearly every product at Oracle. We've had great response from customers, too, and we just introduced Oracle Virtual Directory 11g.

Q: Why do you think innovation is important?

A: The reason humans are a successful species is we're innovators—we've adapted and evolved. The person who invented the wheel was the first innovator.

Q: How does Oracle's innovative culture benefit our customers?

A: Innovation is a very collaborative thing. Innovation is something tangible. Oracle is not successful unless customers are successful. Innovation is a force multiplier, meaning that the innovative things Oracle does to help our customers helps them to improve their businesses, which improves the lives of their customers. A real-life example of this is Harvard Medical School, which is using Oracle database technology to more efficiently run research projects and ultimately cure diseases. It used to be very expensive to run sequences for genetic research projects. Now, with cloud computing, the research projects are much cheaper and easier to configure and simpler to manage. See http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/harvard/ for more information.

Q: Who do you consider the most innovative person at Oracle?

A: Clayton Donley, who created Oracle Virtual Directory. He's always thinking of new things. He was the first to write an iPhone app for Oracle called Oracle PeopleFinder.

Q: What time period in history was the most innovative?

A: The U.S. in the 20th century. In less than 70 years, we went from wagon trains coming to Oklahoma in 1903 to landing on the moon in 1969.

Q: What's the most innovative product you know of?

A: The BoGo Light by SunNight Solar. For every flashlight purchased, a second light is given to a nonprofit that distributes it to a developing country. The lights are designed to replace kerosene lanterns and they solve one of those forgotten problems in helping the poor move out of poverty. The problem is that these lanterns are heavy polluters—a single lantern emits as much pollution as dozens of cars—and they take up a large part of a poor person's income as well as being a risk of fire. The BoGo Light eliminates the fire risk, allows the money used on kerosene to go to more productive purposes and improves the environment at a personal level.