Simplifying the technology stack

Oracle comments that the success in modern business technology is all about creating the kind of relationships that allow CIOs to meet changing business requests on-demand

Success in modern business technology is all about creating the kind of relationships that allow CIOs to meet changing business requests on-demand. That reliance on collaboration is as true of relationships outside the firewall as it is with interactions inside the organisation. Just as the CIO needs internal staff that are able to meet ever-changing business demands, so the IT leader needs an external IT partner that is able to help remove some of the complexities traditionally associated to technology provision. Step forward Oracle, an enterprise technology giant that is proud of its ability to offer business answers to intractable IT challenges across the whole stack. The aim across all areas of business technology is to provide simplicity, reliability and value for money for CIOs who rely on trusted technology, says Oracle UK’s Vice President of Technology and Channels, Alan Hartwell.


Driving industry consolidation


Analysts recognise that consolidation has been one of the key watchwords in the IT industry during the past decade. It is a trend that Hartwell recognises, and one whose impact has been most felt in the mid-to-upper end of the IT market. For example, Oracle is perhaps best known for its core database, which remains an essential tool in large blue-chip organisations. But that product area alone does not provide a complete definition of the firm’s activities, given the context of significant expansion through product development and supplier acquisition during the past 10 years.


The software giant’s journey into business applications has been driven forward by the purchase of human resources specialist PeopleSoft and Siebel, one of the founders of the customer relationship management (CRM)industry. But it is the 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems that has propelled Oracle into the hardware business – and into the spotlightof CIOs looking for an integration partner.


“Oracle is a consolidator, and our objective is to meet changes in the way customers consume IT,” says Hartwell


“In the future, IT is likely to be a more integrated proposition, rather than a piecemeal operation. The cost of integrating IT, so it can support the goals of the business, will fall on the vendor and not the customer.”


That is a big demand for enterprise software providers. And for Oracle, now able to provide products from across the IT stack, from applications to disk, integration means assembling IT platforms drawing on servers, operating systems, middleware and end user applications all engineered to work together. In effect, they provide a single, fully tested product. The end result is that Oracle’s key channel partners are able to sell Oracle-based systems to customers that have been pre-configured and tested. Systems can also be provided as part of a service, such as via data centre hosting or as part of a private cloud approach.


Hartwell is adamant that Oracle is a perfect fit for a partner-seeking CIO: “Only we can offer an application-to-disk IT stack that works, with all the integration completed, and all the hardware and software pre-configured.”


Customisation, not configuration


One of the main benefits of finding a trusted integration partner is freedom; using external expertise should allow in-house IT staff to focus their time and effort on the areas that really add business value.


Hartwell refers to the commonly cited suggestion that most CIOs spend between 60 and 80 per cent of their IT budgets on day-to-day technology operations, or in other words keeping the lights on: “They would rather spend that money in ways that differentiate them from competitors in their market,” he says.


Oracle’s stack-based approach aims to deal with much of the basic configuration of systems, allowing more time and resources to be dedicated to the customisation of applications. It is a worthwhile and productive exercise, as true IT innovation comes from the ability of a CIO to move away from day-to-day operations and towards application development that matches business need.


“We are seeing software buying patterns change,” says Hartwell. “Our customers want to know about the real business benefits and differentiators.” He adds that the end result is an increasing number of outcome-led conversations with customers, and these dialogues are where trusted partners such as BT Engage IT play a key role.


“The challenge, is to understand the full proposition,” says Hartwell. “That is where our channel partners come in. They tend to specialise in different areas. BT Engage IT’s expertise, for example, is in using IT infrastructure to achieve business goals.”Good relationships, then, really are crucial across all areas of the IT industry. Such engagements will only increase in importance as consumerisation takes hold, with more employees using mobile and consumer devices to access core back-office systems.


CIOs have much to ponder but Hartwell concludes that Oracle’s ability to work with trusted third parties such as BT Engage IT should mean IT leaders can rely on external provision that is both agile and dependable.


“Consumerisation means performance and availability of IT are even more important,”he says. “We have to be able to manage that.”

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