What does Oracle really mean by ‘cloud’ in 2018?

‘Cloud for the sake of cloud is pointless – just another new technology to play with. The important point is that innovation, in the shape of cloud, is making top tier technology available to Government, at much lower cost than before,’ says the company’s lead for public sector, Stuart Provan

Posted 31 January 2018 by Gary Flood

Stuart Provan leads Oracle’s public sector push in the UK, liaising closely with IT procurement and strategy leadership at both the Cabinet Office and with Crown Reps in the Crown Commercial Service. It’s also on G-Cloud in the shape of the Digital Marketplace. A 23-year old veteran at the IT giant, he oversees Oracle’s wide range of public sector technology engagements, from central government to local authorities and the NHS. 

We met up with Stuart to try and understand a bit more about what Oracle 2018 is all about – especially when it comes to this cloud thing…

What’s Oracle’s positioning vis-à-vis the UK public sector market right now, Stuart?

I could answer that question in terms of us having transitioned very successfully into a cloud company, and we had very successful recent public results that would back that up. But I actually don’t think that’s the right way to understand the work we’re doing with our many public sector clients.

OK, I’m intrigued; what do you think is the better way of understanding Oracle and its message to the public sector buyer of ICT goods and services right now?

Well, I should back up a little. We’ve been a factor in the UK IT market for over 30 years, and it’s simply a fact that the majority of organisations will have an Oracle solution of some kind by now – typically, of course, the database. We have also become a key part of the critical national infrastructure, and have helped – are helping – many public sector entities with their digital transformation and cost-saving initiatives.

But cloud has changed the environment we are all operating in and Oracle is changing and adapting as much as our customers and partners are. It’s not just our products which are changing to become services delivered via our Public Cloud, Government Cloud and Cloud@Customer, but it’s also our commercial models such as ‘Bring Your Own Licence’ and Universal Cloud Credit which are adapting to fit market demands.

We’re seeing a maturing of the cloud market too. Until now it’s been test and dev environments or new build projects, in open source which have deployed in the cloud.

What hasn’t really happened so much is cloud as the place for enterprise-class production workloads, for probably well-understood issues of trust and maturity. But it’s there, at that crossroads, that we are most in contact with the public sector.

How do you mean?

Essentially, what cloud offers is a way to access enterprise level IT in a very affordable and flexible way. So we are now engaging in projects with customers who just never thought they could afford Oracle before, and it’s an incredibly interesting area, for both parties.

Take the work we’ve done with Northumberland County Council. There, we offered Oracle cloud as a way to avoid the cost of an expensive data centre refresh for our e-business suite. That was a significant and very successful, lift and shift of a genuinely mission-critical enterprise workload that minimised the risk for the council.

That’s not an isolated example of the trend I am talking about. There’s what we’re achieving at the NHS Business Services Authority. That’s exciting because it’s all about co-existence with Open Source to make a great data lake application deliver insights that the customer says has won back £770m in savings for the NHS. Again, there’s the project we’ve embarked on with Imperial College which is finding ways to save even more cost in the NHS, like a very innovative app for finding spare hospital capacity.

Putting all that together, I think the message for the UK public sector about the Oracle of 2018 is that we are there to help you, if you’re a public sector organisation, implement world-class IT services and solutions in a very, very affordable way. You can start as small as you like and grow as big as you like with us and discover a very different Oracle in the process.

Finally, I’d also like to point the readers of Think Digital Partners to the STEM work we’re doing with the public sector IT leaders of tomorrow through our support for the great British engineering project Bloodhound, the project to build a car capable of 1000mph. There, we’re using our cloud facilities to help share the raw data from the Bloodhound car’s 550 on-board sensors with over three million students in over 120 countries so as to spark interest in the magic of data and technology in the next generation – many of whom, I am sure, will end up working in public sector IT delivery.

That’s a fascinating run through of some of the aspects of what you guys are doing – thanks, Stuart. Where can our readers and the delegates to Think Digital Partner events go to find out more?

There’s our web site for sure, but why not come and engage with us more directly at our upcoming MBX event in London? Taking place on April 18, that’s where we’re going to debate the Modern Business Experience, showcasing best practice in a variety of industries, including e- and local digital government. I’d love to meet up with anyone interested in how cloud could help their public services project there.

Finally, I’d like to engage more directly with our customers so find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter (Sprovan_Oracle).

Sounds like a great idea – and thanks for your time today, Stuart.