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Oracle opens Gen 2 datacentre in Dubai as digital transformation revs up

(Image credit: Oracle)

Hyperscalers are continuing to open and announce new availability zones in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as CIOs are accelerating their existing digital transformation efforts, even more, to meet new customer and operational agility needs.

Oracle, which has opened its second data centre in the UAE in Dubai, is witnessing a growing demand for cloud computing amid Covid-19.

The US technology giant opened its first data centre in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi last year and one in Saudi Arabia this year.

As of now, Oracle has 26 cloud regions globally and is on track to have 36 cloud regions by the end of the year, compared to 25 for Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“We are investing in the region significantly as we are seeing a steady increase in digital technologies. We have some loyal customers in the region and it is our duty to take them and scale them to the next level,” Andrew Sutherland, Senior Vice-President for Business Development - Technology License and Systems EMEA and APAC at Oracle, told TechRadar Pro Middle East.

There is a no-nonsense approach in the region and there is very strong leadership, from top-down, he said and it can be seen even in the governments' sector.

“Backed up with our knowledge of the market and backed up with our historical presence in the region, it gives us great confidence in the investment we made in the region. We will see existing Oracle customers move their workloads on to the cloud and out of that, partly will be hybrid cloud, cloud at customer and dedicated cloud at region, and new workloads coming on to the cloud,” he said.

However, he said that different enterprises are in different stages of transformation and some instances; they are seeking cost cuts and improving the performance of existing processes.

All data centres are not equal; he said and added that organisations need to take a close look at the functionalities of the data centres.

Unique offering

“With Gen 2 OCI, we cracked the enterprise-capable cloud technology and have a unique offering in the market. We are focusing hard to get customers on board and making sure they benefit from the true value of the cloud. We are the best in the industry and I can authoritatively say that,” Sutherland said.

Oracle’s cloud journey started 12 years ago with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and moved into the infrastructure and platform as services five years ago.

“Who else got the autonomous database and who else can run OLTP (online transaction processing), software programs capable of supporting transaction-oriented applications, on the cloud.”

Moreover, he said that Gen 2 datacentres are the only datacentre architecture created with true enterprise cloud in mind, right from the start, with a focus on security and with AI capabilities, scalability and performance.

The key differences between Generation 1 and Generation 2 cloud are that Generation 1 cloud places user code and data on the same computer as the cloud control code with shared CPU, memory, and storage, so, the cloud providers can see user’s data while Generation 2 cloud puts customer code, data, and resources on a bare-metal computer, while cloud control code lives on a separate computer with a different architecture.

On top of it, Oracle recently enhanced its security offerings with “Cloud Guard” and “Maximum Security Zones” to automate threat response and quickly and efficiently reduce customers cloud security risk at no additional cost.

Sutherland said that Oracle is the first public cloud provider to activate security policy enforcement of best practices automatically from day one to prevent misconfiguration errors and deploy workloads securely.

Key focus on security

Security has been a critical design consideration across Oracle cloud for years, he said, and it should be foundational and built-in.

“Customers shouldn’t be forced to make tradeoffs between security and cost. The maximum-security zone is for individual cloud customers who can set their customised policies and under their control while Cloud Guard is a constant and on-going guard with AI capability in your entire environment which can draw users’ attention for likely breaches,” Sutherland said.

Many of the security breaches which had happened are due to human errors, he said and Oracle is making absolute effort to eliminate, as much as possible, human errors.

“I don’t know whether anyone has an autonomous database that looks after itself and we are the only one who has taken security seriously and taken it to the next level. Security is built into every layer within the cloud – infrastructure, database and applications,” he said.

With the current scenario, he said that security is vital and some backdoors could be mistakenly opened to hackers as IT demands are increasing and putting pressure on valuable resources of human beings,” he said.

“Many organisations are making much greater use of the digital infrastructure during the Covid and humans cannot spend much time to manage and monitor data. So, we must have a cleverer way of managing the data and that is what Cloud Guard is doing, machines are looking after machines,” he said.

When Oracle built its second-generation core cloud infrastructure, he said that it was based on four main principles – performance, security, openness (interoperable with other cloud providers) and autonomous capabilities.

Addressing the challenges

Moreover, Sutherland said that Oracle created a brand new infrastructure cloud from scratch with a key focus on engineering to address the challenges and that is Gen 2 Oracle cloud infrastructure.

Gartner in its “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services” report said that Oracle, a niche player, is now well-positioned to handle broad lift-and-shift use cases (not just those limited to Oracle applications) and hybrid workloads, and has a future focus on expanding the worldwide geographies it serves with competitive capabilities.

 “Oracle is distinguished among most companies of its lineage in that it has developed thoughtfully architected, hyperscale cloud architectures that are competitive with the more-established cloud providers,” the research firm said.

According to Gartner, Oracle has demonstrated impressive improvements in both the IaaS and PaaS capabilities of OCI in the past year. Between 2019 and 2020, Gartner stated that OCI improved from a solution score of 38 out of 100, to 62 out of 100. Its score on the required criteria vital to businesses improved from 45 per cent to 74 per cent.

“Compared to AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Alibaba Cloud, Oracle is the provider whose scores improved the most in 2020,” the research firm said.

The US giant also reported a 140 per cent jump in its Gen2 public cloud revenue in its fourth-quarter results that ended on May 31.

Sutherland said that many of the customers that Oracle added recently - Zoom, 8X8, McAfee, 7-Eleven, GE, Sky, Outfront, CERN, Cisco and Nissan - are not new to the cloud.

“They were using other cloud providers’ services for years and the customers have seen our efforts such as increased security, low manageability costs and better scalability performance,” he said.

When looking to move to the cloud, organisations need to look at the service offerings of the cloud providers and the investments they have made in the region, he said.