Big beast Oracle set to defend Middle East tech crown

While Infor and others may be targeting the region for market share, Oracle has no intention of reliquishing its grip.

Here, Arun Khehar, the senior vice president for applications business, Ecemea, for Oracle exclusively talks to The National about how it intends to stay ahead of the competition.

Does Oracle think its customers in the Middle East are tiring of the company’s dominance in the region? How does Oracle feel it serves its customers – how is the feedback generally?

At Oracle, we are on a mission to connect people and business to information. Over the past 25 years, our customers in the Middle East have believed in our approach and ability to deliver innovative solutions that have helped them shape their respective industries and change the way the world works and plays.

Our consistent growth over the past two decades in the Middle East is driven by the success of our customers and this growth has now been further enhanced by the rapid adoption of our cloud solutions. We have built something our competitors can’t, so our customers are able to do things they’ve never been able to do before.

We give every customer the ability to design their own map to cloud success – not just one map, not just our map, but almost limitless paths and roadways they can draw, then shape, then redraw again in new, powerful ways as their businesses grow. We built a cloud future that’s less about restrictions and more about re-imagining people, processes, and progress.

Our SaaS [software-as-a-service] sales have experienced triple-digit growth in the UAE. We have made significant investments to ramp up mid-market SaaS sales business in the Middle East and this commitment to the region has enabled us to currently employ more than 140 direct sales staff that includes Oracle’s direct sales team for applications and database.

The UAE and the Middle East are top priority markets for Oracle and in January 2016, Oracle’s chief executive, Mark Hurd announced plans to establish a state of the art data centre in Abu Dhabi. The data centre will feature Oracle’s Engineered Systems – which combine highly tuned hardware, software, and networking for top performance – to support the increasing demands of area customers who tap Oracle’s wide range of cloud services.

By locating a data centre in the UAE, we will be better able to manage service levels and respond to local customers who, for a variety of reasons including data governance requirements, need their data to be in close geographic proximity.

How does Oracle add value to its cloud offerings and services in the Middle East?

Oracle provides complete solutions that integrate all digital technologies: cloud, mobile, social, big data, Internet of Things with our applications, middleware, database, analytics, and engineered systems – and we bring these capabilities to the cloud.

In the Middle East, we have invested in our partners, invested in a data centre and invested in our products. It is these three elements that are facilitating our customers’ journey to the cloud.

Customers in the Middle East realise that cloud adoption offers them speed, value and better ROI. To further drive this interest, Oracle has over the last few quarters delivered more than 200 applications on the cloud.

Some examples of the value that our cloud services bring to customers in the UAE are as follows: Abu Dhabi Department of Finance has deployed a private cloud shared services platform built upon Oracle hardware and software, enabling other public entities to shift their focus from financial management issues –including budgeting, planning, purchasing, cash management, reporting, and compliance – to core capabilities, such as improved municipal services for constituents.

AA Distribution, one of the largest petroleum companies in the Arab Gulf Region, operating more than 250 filling stations, 18 vehicle-inspection stations, and a vast network of convenience stores across the country is managing its operations on Oracle’s engineered systems in a private cloud. With more than 3,000 concurrent daily users and more than 250 million financial transactions annually, Adnoc Distribution’s filling stations are on track to double to 500 service stations in the next two years.

How well prepared is Oracle’s cloud solution product for an influx of its existing customers in the region?

The journey to cloud isn’t a one-way path – and each company’s journey is unique. We address the distinct business and IT requirements of each customer by giving them unparalleled choice.

At Oracle, we have built a completely integrated cloud platform that spans all layers of the cloud and is based on our foundational infrastructure products. It’s our focus on integration between these layers that genuinely sets us apart.

Oracle offers a complete range of services in all three primary layers of the cloud: SaaS, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

That depth of product knowledge at every layer allows us …the ability to deliver real, powerful value by freeing up resources and driving innovation.

We provide a hybrid model that allows customers to deploy in the cloud, on premises, or in their own datacentres. We believe an integrated solution must span both on-premise and cloud, because applications and information live in both and will potentially co-exist for years. Customers must address these together, and only Oracle delivers on that promise.

We have been prepared for the cloud adoption rate for years and because we have thousands of on premise customers, we have a co-exist strategy in place. There is a clear road map that we share with customers on how they can move to the cloud and we provide them with the full support they need.

At Oracle, R&D is a key priority for us to create products that match our customers’ expectations. Our investment in annual research and development has increased from US$3 billion to $5.7bn in the most recent fiscal year. We see cloud becoming central to key business sectors and the technology we offer sits at the heart of the economy. The rate of innovation is changing the world around us at an unprecedented pace and the growth we have witnessed in the Middle East region is indicative of that change.

Is Oracle confident of maintaining market share in the Middle East and if so why?

Our commitment to the Middle East region is resolute. We have been in the region for a long time and have gained deep experience across major sectors such as government, finance, banking, health care, construction, energy, retail and many more. Our investments in the region have only grown and the impact of these investments can be seen in our size, revenue, customer base, products and partners.

With the rapid rate of cloud adoption in the Middle East … Oracle will only continue to get bigger and better.

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