Managed private cloud services give strategists more command over mission-critical cloud-based applications.
by Alison Weiss, August 2013
A recent forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that worldwide spending on private cloud services is slated to reach more than US$24 billion by 2016. This market is defined by IDC analysts as cloud services designed for a single enterprise with user-defined and controlled restrictions on access and level of resource dedication. Demand for private cloud services is largely being driven by IT leaders interested in the business value of cloud but who are managing enterprises with risk factors that require more-robust features than are available with traditional software-as-a-service (SaaS) public cloud offerings.
While SaaS is grabbing many of the headlines these days as a one-size-fits-all option, Yaldah Hakim, principal product marketing director, Oracle Cloud Marketing, notes there are critical distinctions between SaaS and Oracle Managed Cloud Services, which is Oracle’s private managed cloud solution. The self-service provisioning available for SaaS solutions may meet the needs of managers looking to add functionality quickly. But private cloud offerings like Oracle Managed Cloud Services give IT departments increased flexibility and control over a solution. It all comes down to who owns the software.
“With Oracle Managed Cloud Services, customers own their software licenses, and they control when to do upgrades and when they want updates or patches,” says Hakim. “Everything is in partnership with customers on their own terms.”
Indeed, it is the customizability, flexibility, and security of private cloud services that make them an optimal choice for enterprises with complicated business requirements. This includes IT environments that require highly customized applications, businesses that operate in regulatory environments that require data to be located in specific geographic areas, and business processes that require extensive security demands.
I wanted my team to focus on the business goal of building
a consumer-centric organization.
A private cloud service, such as Oracle Managed Cloud Services, delivers enterprise-grade, end-to-end managed cloud solutions across business applications, database, middleware, and hardware technologies. And customers not only have ready access to the latest Oracle technology developments and Oracle Managed Cloud Services staff with deep experience dealing with specific customizations and extensions; they also can gain additional guidance from Oracle Product Development and Oracle Support teams.
Private cloud services and SaaS share benefits related to speed of deployment and accelerated value. “With Oracle Managed Cloud Services, you choose the best cloud deployment model for your business needs without lock-in,” says Hakim. “And you uptake our technologies faster compared to installing them on premises.”
Sree Vaidyanathan, director of business applications, IT, at Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) PlayStation Business Unit, definitely appreciated the ability to select an individualized cloud deployment model when he decided to use Oracle Managed Cloud Services to run several Oracle applications. Vaidyanathan and his team also liked being able to control when to implement the private cloud solution, and he appreciated the collaborative support offered by the Oracle Managed Cloud Services team.
SCEA is headquartered in Foster City, California, and is well known for its market-leading PlayStation computer entertainment system. Recently the company kicked off a strategy to become a more consumer-focused organization by harnessing technology to improve the management and analysis of disparate consumer-oriented data to gain better insight into customers. Vaidyanathan realized that new Oracle technology could be implemented via Oracle Managed Cloud Services to improve customer service for PlayStation users. However, it was critical that he be able to control the timing to make sure the technology was in place to take advantage of the company’s most critical sales period of the year: the holiday buying season.
“Sony PlayStation has 77 million users worldwide, with 60 million coming from the US. But we didn’t have our consumer-oriented data collated in one place,” he says. “We needed a tool, but we didn’t have the expertise in-house to manage it, and I wanted my team to focus on the business goal of building a consumer-centric organization.”
The service Sony elected to run with Oracle Managed Cloud Services was Oracle’s Siebel Master Data Management (Siebel MDM), in order to create a very large repository of 1.9 billion records for Sony PlayStation online accounts and assets. Staff from Oracle Managed Cloud Services and Oracle Product Development came together and discovered a streamlined way to get consumer data from a variety of siloed, disparate systems to load quickly into Siebel MDM.
Now, Siebel MDM provides customer service personnel access to more accurate and more complete information for servicing support requests. And, because Siebel MDM was up and running so quickly, Sony personnel were able to access it during their busiest season: between November and January.
Amount International Data Corporation predicts the private cloud market will grow to by 2016 (Source: Worldwide Hosted Private Cloud Services 2012–2016 Forecast, December 2012)
The success of the project encouraged Vaidyanathan to migrate the Oracle Hyperion system from Sony’s in-house data center to Oracle Managed Cloud Services. Even though Sony runs Oracle E-Business Suite in-house, when Vaidyanathan and his team began the process of moving to Oracle E-Business Suite 12, he used Oracle Managed Cloud Services for an innovative hybrid development approach. Oracle Managed Cloud Services hosted six project instances concurrently to allow the team to conduct testing.
Vaidyanathan is on track to go live in summer 2013 and has nothing but praise for the collaborative Oracle Managed Cloud Services solution that enabled SCEA to streamline the critical Oracle E-Business Suite reimplementation effort. “Oracle Managed Cloud Services is a big win for us,” he says. “It offers me a cost-effective platform where I can redirect my resources to focus on the critical tasks for the business and focus on what actually makes money for the company.”
Executives at Mineral Technologies Inc. (MTI), headquartered in New York, New York, are very focused on managing growth on a global scale. Over the years the company, which develops and markets a wide variety of specialty mineral, mineral-based, and synthetic mineral products, has added businesses around the world. Many had their own mix of IT systems, adding new complexity to the business. In an effort to standardize and get a more-strategic view of the business overall, in 2006 IT decision-makers chose to leverage the single instance of Oracle E-Business Suite already in use in North America and Latin America and make Oracle E-Business Suite the standard enterprise resource planning (ERP) system across all operations. However, this was a challenging goal because MTI had a relatively small IT support staff and a complex ERP footprint.
“Since MTI does both discrete and process manufacturing, we are a very diverse user of Oracle E-Business Suite in our business and take advantage of nearly every module,” says Khem Balkaran, CIO and head of global business services at MTI.
Moving to a hosted Oracle E-Business Suite instance with Oracle Managed Cloud Services was the best option, because Oracle consultants with deep skills could manage the application efficiently. “We feel that managing Oracle is best left to the experts, allowing us to stay on the cutting edge without the capital investment or the expense needed to maintain skill sets,” says Balkaran. Today, Oracle E-Business Suite hosted with Oracle Managed Cloud Services supports operations in approximately 25 countries.
The need for in-depth Oracle Managed Cloud Services support was critical in 2012 when Balkaran needed to upgrade to Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1. Oracle’s development teams provided strategic knowledge when it came time to migrate the huge volume of data from an earlier version of the Oracle Process Manufacturing module into Release 12 and launch a new module, Oracle Enterprise Asset Management. In addition, Balkaran and his staff wanted to integrate new bar-coding functionality. The Oracle Managed Cloud Services team assisted with this task, while simultaneously turning on the ERP application to serve more than 60 different locations around the world.
After completing the upgrade project in only nine months, Balkaran worked with Oracle Managed Cloud Services to integrate Oracle E-Business Suite with Siebel Customer Relationship Management (Siebel CRM). Because both are private hosted cloud solutions, the integration went very smoothly. Now, sales staff members receive complete business and sales information delivered to them on iPads. “They are all ecstatic about having this level of integration and functionality,” Balkaran says.
Oracle Managed Cloud Services gives us the ability to quickly scale up our operation if any of our businesses just take off with increases in revenue and need to hire more people.
In the near future, Oracle E-Business Suite will extend to MTI operations in Asia. It will be the first time end users will access the Oracle ERP system, but Balkaran expects the Oracle Managed Cloud Services–hosted platform will function well and be available quickly. “We can direct our energy and effort to make sure users in Asia are trained and can get up to speed as quickly as possible. Our IT strategy is to continually provide value for the core business—and deliver value when they need it,” he says.
For Senthil Thangavelu, director of financial applications at InterActiveCorp (IAC), Oracle Managed Cloud Services has been his go-to for a scalable and flexible managed private cloud solution. Headquartered in New York, New York, IAC has an ever-expanding line of internet businesses based across 40 countries, including Match.com, Ask.com, and CollegeHumor.com.
“Oracle Managed Cloud Services gives us the ability to quickly scale up our operation if any of our businesses just take off with increases in revenue and need to hire more people,” he says. “It also gives us flexibility in operating the business.”
Thangavelu has high praise for the excellent performance IAC receives with Oracle Managed Cloud Services, and he appreciates that his staff members do not have to concern themselves with system administration or backup tasks. Instead, they can focus on supporting the business and enabling innovative projects. For example, Mindspark is IAC’s second-largest business, and it recently initiated process improvements and a project to build a huge data warehouse for better business intelligence. In addition, Mindspark has a complicated revenue-sharing mechanism that needs to be automated.
“Since we don’t have to focus on system administration, which isn’t our forte anyway, we can help Mindspark achieve its goals and aid in its growth,” Thangavelu says.
Thangavelu clearly believes moving to cloud computing is helping his company achieve its objectives to innovate and expand. “Because we are growing so fast, Oracle Managed Cloud Services gives my team the ability to focus on running our business.”
Indeed, demand continues to grow for Oracle Managed Cloud Services as customers shed routine system management to focus on their core missions. But they also like the full spectrum of solutions and cloud deployment options that are available across the entire Oracle stack, the ability to have full control over the timing of patching and software updates, and guaranteed service levels and response time. “It really depends on what customers are looking for,” says Oracle’s Hakim. “Choice and control are what our customers pay for.”
Alison Weiss is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area and a frequent contributor to Profit.
Cloud computing doesn’t just refer to solutions for large enterprises. Thanks to the growth of social and mobile computing, the personal cloud services market is booming. According to the Consumer Electronics Association’s 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study published in April 2013, household penetration rates for smartphones and tablets are continuing to grow, reaching 58 percent and 39 percent, respectively, in 2013. And consumers want to use the devices to easily access their pictures, texts, and documents on any device without limitations—functionality enabled by personal cloud services.
A recent report from market research firm MarketsandMarkets (M&M) reveals that the global personal cloud market is expected to grow to US$43.5 billion in 2018 compared to US$6.6 billion in 2013. The market is predicted to have a compound annual growth rate of 45.61 percent in a five-year period.
For consumers, what is appealing about personal cloud services is that they’re easy to use. There is a wide variety of services to choose from, but most offer secure online backup, file syncing across unlimited devices, anywhere access, and collaboration. In addition, some do not even require a web browser interface and will run natively on nearly any PC, including devices running iOS or Android, as well as Linux computers.