By Shaun Han
These days, everybody knows something about ?the cloud.? In just a few short years, the industry, analysts, and the media have produced a steady stream of information designed to define exactly what cloud computing actually is and, perhaps more importantly, quantify and clarify the advantages it offers to businesses.
The focus is often on taking advantage of the shift from capital expenditures (CapEx) to operating expenses (OpEx).Just as frequently the discussion covers IT concerns such as scalability or on-demand capacity, and the ability to remove the complexities of IT management and allow technology professionals to focus on solving business problems and creating competitive advantage.
While each of these arguments has its merits, they often overshadow one of the most compelling discussions. By that I mean the reality that business applications provided in the cloud through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model paid on a subscription basis, is more than just common sense. It can also bridge the so called ?innovation gap? that frequently afflicts corporate IT organizations.
SaaS itself is not a new concept. In fact, its development can be traced back to the late 1990s when Web-based applications delivered by application service providers (ASPs) captured the imagination of many IT managers. Early applications often focused on sales force automation (SFA) and customer relationship management (CRM), as well as web content management.
Today, the breadth of Oracle?s SaaS offerings is unparalleled ? both within a pillar of capabilities like Human Capital Management (HCM), which includes recruiting, talent management, and core HR, as well as across pillars for complete business processes, such as capturing orders in a financial system after they are booked in the CRM tool. More than 80,000 customers worldwide rely on Oracle?s complete portfolio of enterprise and industry applications.
Oracle?s strong and proven legacy in enterprise applications offers a solid foundation for our enterprise-grade cloud offerings. This enables our customers to better manage TCO through standardizing various internal and external services into interoperable suites that can be deployed in a modular model.
Also, customers can choose between public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid deployments. For those who have been running Oracle Applications in on-premise model, Oracle SaaS can co-exist seamlessly with their existing investment and enable them take advantage of the new innovation in Cloud services, without the need to rip and replace old systems or learn new tools.
Indeed, Oracle?s cloud solutions have become a substantial portfolio of our business, which should assure the market that Oracle really is ?all in?, and committed to Cloud. More than 25 million users and 10,000 customers rely on the Oracle Cloud every day.
Quick and easy
Choosing and implementing business applications can be a challenging task, which requires the close cooperation between business and IT staff. Integration is critical to avoid disruption and ensure seamless data migration. Plus, infrastructure issues must be anticipated and addressed so that applications are supported without the risk of costly downtime.
All this time for installation, migration and testing can quickly add up ? even when things go smoothly. However, the reality is that the majority of IT projects are far from smooth. ?According to KPMG, as many as 70 percent of organizations surveyed had experienced at least one project failure in the previous 12 months, and 50 percent indicated that their project failed to achieve their original goals?.
Conventional wisdom, backed by years of tradition, has kept these applications in the data centre where they were looked after by IT staff. The actual business users had control of what they needed to do their job, and nothing more.
Oracle?s SaaS-based business applications offer the users with the flexibility and choice. They are powerful, fully functional, enterprise-class business applications that can be put in the hands of the business teams that actually use them day-in and day-out.
This process of business units taking control over applications appears to be fast becoming a rule rather than an exception. For example, ?in 2012, the business environment specialist Constellation Research revealed that while IT budgets had dropped by five percent in the previous year, LOB technology spending had increased by around 20 percent?.
Business users can count on Oracle SaaS to roll out applications fast, or in incremental steps when necessary. What?s more, Oracle SaaS applications can create value more quickly, enable faster innovation and provide the flexibility to adapt when market changes dictate.
Latest and greatest features
New features, like mobile or social media, do more than make work more enjoyable: they make work more efficient and people more productive. They are also innovation-enablers, offering new functionality and new ways to collaborate.
The question is how to make sure staff has access to the latest ?fantastic feature? without going through the upheaval of a complete software upgrade? The answer is Oracle.
Oracle?s SaaS business applications are continuously updated, not only to improve functionality, but also for security, usability, patches and bug fixes, and it is all done in the background, transparent to the users. The team starts using the new features right away, making better, more informed business decisions.
Oracle?s rich, best-in-class SaaS business applications are filled with features like reporting and analytics that work within the user?s normal business processes. They are not added on later just to look good on a product data sheet.
The same can be said for social functionality in Oracle?s SaaS business applications. ?A number of SaaS vendors add what they consider social functionality after the fact. Oracle embeds social capabilities where it makes most sense, in a particular business process or application so it delivers the greatest values to business teams and their customers.?
By delivering modern SaaS business applications with innovative features, Oracle provides SaaS business users with horizontal and vertical visibility into their business. They also gain access to integrated business processes that can help find solutions to end-to-end business problems.
Successful businesses are winners because they are flexible and adapt well to change. However, achieving that flexibility could require adding new features to business applications, adding new users to an application, or developing an entirely new application.
Oracle?s SaaS business applications make it easier to be flexible. It makes it easier to get new users up and running, switch on modules or components that were not part of the original deployment, or even add another application from the Oracle SaaS portfolio.
Oracle also uses industry standards to make it easy to share and analyze information between on-premise and cloud-based applications. These industry standards help avoid vendor lock-in concerns.
Growing the innovation budget
One thing that appeals to everyone, not just the CFO, is reallocating some of the 80 percent of IT spend that is used to keep the lights on ? just running and maintaining systems ? and moving it towards innovation projects.
Lower infrastructure and maintenance costs resulting from SaaS business applications can free up funds to invest in other more strategic areas, while users continue to enjoy the latest, fully functional and secure business applications.
Oracle?s subscription pricing model allows more flexibility than traditional approaches. The intuitive, feature-rich applications are easy to use and tailored for the type of roles users perform across the entire business process. Customers can choose to have their data hosted onshore through our local data centers in Asia Pacific.
These data centers use Oracle Engineered Systems which offer high performance, reliable, elastic and secure infrastructure for running business critical applications and various kinds of workloads. That means customers can minimize the costs of buying and managing all the underlying software and hardware infrastructure and allocate more budget for innovating the business.
SaaS unlocks the potential of Cloud
While everyone might be talking about clouds, it is clear that not all clouds are created equal. Or, more precisely, not every kind of cloud is right for every business.
However, when it comes to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), one thing is certain. Oracle can help any business embarking on a cloud initiative reap the promising business and IT benefits.
The author is the vice president for applications at Oracle Corporation Asean