Oracle's Mark Hurd: App complexity will drive customers to our cloud

In an exclusive InfoWorld interview, Oracle co-president Mark Hurd explains why launching the Oracle Public Cloud and competing with Oracle's own licensed software are great ideas

So now we know. With the announcement of Oracle Public Cloud yesterday, the last of the big traditional IT vendors has weighed into the cloud.

This one could be a game-changer. The Oracle Cloud will offer over 100 SaaS (software as a service) enterprise applications, a PaaS (platform as a service) primarily intended to serve Java developers, and a cloud version of the Oracle database. The company also unveiled a new Platinum Services offering for Exadata and Exalogic systems, as well as for the Oracle Public Cloud.

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Immediately after the announcement, I interviewed Oracle co-president Mark Hurd to get a better sense of the thinking behind the monster offering, particularly how he felt Oracle could justify the $35 billion investment behind it and why the company had chosen to deliver the application portfolio as single-tenanted applications, which shifts some of the burden of maintaining apps back to the customer.

According to Larry Ellison, who was at his bravado best on stage, Oracle has been investing in its cloud for seven years (I think he meant the Fusion project, which morphed into a cloud initiative at some point). I began by asking Hurd about his participation in the cloud endeavor; the following is an edited version of the interview. Abhay Parasnis, senior vice president of Oracle Cloud development, also participated.

Eric Knorr: What has been your role in Oracle Cloud?

Mark Hurd: Since I've come we've been in some form of preparation for this, whether it's in the development organization or the sales organization to go to market with it. That's the most important aspect of it, because we've got a go-to-market organization that has represented and sold things in a certain way. So both getting the quantity of people right, getting the specialization of those people right -- getting trained and prepared.

Then I would say the support organization, the stuff we talked about today, is just unique.

Knorr: To be clear, the Platinum Services offering doesn't apply just to the Oracle Cloud.

Hurd: True. But it really struck us that as we were working through the cloud, and when you look at the platform that is now underpinning our cloud, and when you start talking about the support and service levels of the cloud, and then you look at the components, and you look at the opportunity, it crystallized for us over the past year that we had not only an opportunity for differentiation in the core offers, but in the ability to support those offers unlike anybody else.

Knorr: In a way, the architecture you chose would push you in that direction, because if you're multitenanted, you have one huge instance of the software. You're talking about one instance per customer, correct?

Hurd: We are, and all of these decisions, to be clear, were specific decisions: The platform to host, being our engineered systems, whether it's an Exadata or Exalogic; the single-tenant decision as opposed to a multitenant decision. Because somebody might argue to you: Hey I don't know if that's as efficient as multitenanted. But we made a decision that security for us is very important.

We made a series of decisions along this whole line. We wanted to use the best-of-breed parts in the whole industry. We made a very conscious decision to focus on security. We made a very conscious decision that we wanted all of our apps to be the best in the industry at what they do. We made a conscious decision to maximize the service and support experience.

I think the last piece would be the fact that this has to be communicated by us as a suite of capabilities. That there are so many examples -- the Taleo app, in isolation, is a great app. But when added and integrated with our core HCM app, is yet even more powerful. The opportunity to now integrate that in financials, etc.

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