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By Sasha Banks-Louie | May 2021
One of the world’s first enterprise cloud companies, Oracle NetSuite has been growing at double-digit rates while acquiring a devoted customer following for its unified business management suite. International growth offers one of NetSuite’s juiciest opportunities.
But building more data centers one by one around the world, and hiring people in each country to run them, was becoming cost prohibitive and risked slowing NetSuite down.
So NetSuite, which was acquired by Oracle in 2016, had every reason to move its applications to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). The move instantly gives NetSuite access to Oracle’s cloud data centers around the world and lets someone else run the IT operations behind those data centers.
“By rearchitecting our platform on OCI, we’re automating, patching, and upgrading our applications faster than we’ve ever been able to before,” NetSuite Senior Program Director Edward Cheng says. “Because of this, we can also scale much faster, and get better performance, without having to pay for and own new hardware.”
Cheng heads the team responsible for the strategy to move NetSuite applications onto OCI. By 2023, the NetSuite team expects to have moved some 24,000 NetSuite customers out of eight legacy data centers and onto OCI. It took the team just a few months to get the NetSuite applications running on OCI following Oracle’s acquisition of NetSuite, but to let it take full advantage of all OCI’s capabilities, “There was deeper architectural work we needed to do,” Cheng says. By late 2019, the team launched NetSuite in OCI cloud regions in Frankfurt and London as active-active pairs for backup and recovery.
NetSuite was founded in 1998, went public in 2009, and was acquired by Oracle for $9.3 billion in 2016. Its customers, which tend to be fast-growing businesses, are passionate about the NetSuite product, which encompasses ERP/financials, customer relationship management, human capital management, inventory management, ecommerce, and more. Those enthusiastic customers are also demanding, bringing a never-ending wish list of new things that they want from the cloud apps.
“Migrating to the public cloud gives us a great opportunity to bring new products to market much quicker,” Cheng says.
Before Oracle Cloud, adding a new capability would mean implementing the code in one data center, replicating it in a backup data center, and then making sure the people running those data centers used the same standard operating procedures, training, and mindset. Adding a new data center to host customer data in a new geography was even more complex.
Prior to OCI, “It was expensive to add a new region because it required more teams and more time to replicate each set of services,” Cheng says. On OCI however, all the data centers are connected, and the infrastructure is identical in each of them, so global services can be instantly shared and migrated from one location to another.
“Migrating to the public cloud gives us a great opportunity to bring new products to market much quicker.”
Beyond the foundation of compute, storage, and network resources, Cheng is most excited about the many advanced capabilities that are built-in and ready to use on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, such as adaptive security, different kinds of storage, virtual networking, machine learning, and AI. “It’s not just about dealing with physical switches, but choosing between different flavors and levels of technologies for managing resources and data or distributing compute-intensive workloads within and between data centers,” Cheng says.
In addition to more efficiently managing millions of transactions per day and terabytes of data, OCI provides the flexibility needed to mix and match services to deliver new offerings to NetSuite’s tens of thousands of customers, Cheng says.
Moving NetSuite to OCI isn’t just a job for the teams of architects and engineers; it also involves training sales and professional services teams on how running NetSuite on Oracle Cloud creates a new competitive advantage.
For example, having two cloud regions in one country means there’s both a main site and a disaster recovery site available, making it a lot easier for salespeople to sell NetSuite applications to companies with heavily regulated data protection requirements.
“It involves a lot more than just moving from a colocation data center to cloud services. It’s a well-planned shift that you have to engage and educate all levels of people about moving to a public cloud environment,” Cheng says.
Today, NetSuite is running in Oracle’s Phoenix, Ashburn, Virginia, Frankfurt, and London cloud regions. In the future, it will expand to cover more regions in North America, EMEA, and APAC, and all of NetSuite’s new customers will be provisioned on OCI. Each quarter, as new regions come up across Asia Pacific, the United States, South America, and the Middle East, Cheng and his team will help migrate NetSuite’s existing customers to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
Illustration: Wes Rowell