Simon Dunleavy, EMEA ISV Solutions Development Director, Cintra
While reflecting on the many high-profile announcements from Oracle OpenWorld 2019, a thought suddenly struck me. The one announcement that almost slipped under my radar is the one that could be the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to having an impact on the here and now in the world of the Oracle ISV: those businesses that build bespoke applications based on Oracle technology.
It was easy to get excited by the plethora of exciting developments around Autonomous Data Warehouse, such as the new ‘always free’ service, or the news that the world’s first truly autonomous operating system (Oracle Linux) is now a reality.
However, it was the announcement of the new Oracle Cloud VMware solution (which will enable customers to run VMware workloads on Oracle Cloud) that could be the final, transformational component.
Oracle Cloud VMware solution: the game-changer
For ISVs that haven’t yet made the move to the cloud, or for those who are yet to double-down and decide which cloud vendor (or vendors) to stack their chips against, this VMware announcement could dramatically re-route their path (or create one where none previously existed). Because suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place, and are the right shape and size.
Let me explain what I mean. The way I see it, the journey to the cloud for an ISV brings with it two key challenges:
- Cloud-enabling your application(s)
- Taking your existing customers on the cloud journey with you
Not wishing to underplay the difficulties, expense and business impact of the first challenge, but in my experience, this is the ‘easy’ one (so imagine how difficult the second one is!). It’s the one the ISV has most control over, since it can, to a certain degree, control the pace and rate of change and investment.
The second challenge is a far more difficult proposition, and is the one I’m sure will be keeping most ISVs’ C-suites awake at night (and if it isn’t, it should be). The potential short, medium- and long-term negative impacts that inaction will have on the future success of an ISV should not be underestimated. Unless an ISV is fortunate enough to ‘own the space’ they operate in (i.e. they’re effectively the only choice their customers have), the endless cycle of customer selection processes, proving your ROI claims and periodic re-selection (or worse, de-selection) impact every aspect of the three key requirements for growth: customer acquisition, customer activation and customer retention.
Cloud capability: critical to ISV success
Will you compete successfully in the new business space if your competitors are ticking the ‘cloud’ boxes on RFPs, but you can’t? Are your project costs too high because your application requires a significant on-premises investment, meaning your customers can’t leverage the benefits of cloud economics? Will you keep your customers when the inevitable (and dreaded) market review takes place and you’re not ticking the right boxes of a ‘mini RFP’, which now has different requirements compared to the RFP you were originally successful under? Is an on-premises infrastructure refresh placing your TCO under the microscope? What about those customers for whom the ISV has created significant bespoke functionality or even their own software release? Chronic insomnia awaits!
Now there’s an answer, and it’s a relatively simple one: multi-cloud.
The multi-cloud solution
Rewind several months, and Microsoft and Oracle announced an agreement whereby the two companies would seamlessly interconnect their physical (and logical) networks, as well as identity management and support, in their respective clouds. In layman’s terms, this means, thanks to enablement by the likes of Equinix, that customers can now seamlessly run Oracle workloads from Azure, and vice-versa.
Now consider that an ISV’s customer real estate may look something like this: Office 365, Active Directory in Azure and on-premises, file storage (most likely on-premises) and migrating (or migrated) to OneDrive plus SharePoint (online or on Azure). Add to this the ISV application servers and at least one ISV database server. And this where the importance of the VMware announcement comes in, because both these parts of the ISV application are likely virtualized, and most probably on VMware.
Previously, getting all of that to fit into one cloud provider – or work seamlessly across two cloud service providers – would have been difficult at best. Now though, it could be as simple as doing exactly what we’ve been doing for years in our own datacentres: Round pegs in round holes, with all workloads, including the ISV stack, running in the places that make most sense.
Well now, for the first time in the cloud era, an ISV’s customer can run each tier of its suite of business resources (virtual and physical) in their spiritual homes, while remaining seamlessly connected. This simplifies support, licensing, deployments, upgrades, patching and full lifecycle management.
Time to move and improve
So what does that journey to the cloud for an ISV’s customers now look like? A straightforward “lift and shift” or “move and improve” of discrete components is a simplified reality. It’s exactly the same as we’ve all been doing for years, but now it’s in the cloud(s). Suddenly, ISVs’ customers’ shoes feel a whole lot more comfortable, which is great news for an ISV.
Wave those sleepless nights goodbye, and bring on RFP success…