The release cadence of Oracle's applications had gotten users into a "vicious cycle" admitted the company's executive vice president of applications product development Steve Miranda today.
Speaking on Monday morning at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, Miranda said the "whole dynamic of the way we used to do business with an on premise piece of software" had made it "impractical" for companies to partner.
"Where we would ship the software, our customers would do the best they could to implement it but ultimately they had to customise and extend with third party applications just to make it work for them," Miranda said.
"What that meant was, as soon as we innovated, when we built something on your behalf you'd want to take that update: unfortunately that update was very costly, it was very time consuming to do and to some extent it was very risky," he added.
The result was a vicious cycle in which Oracle would put out software releases every two to three years, "frankly very unpredictably" Miranda said, while customers would wait up to ten years for a newer version to come out.
The company's extensive, albeit late, move to offer applications via the cloud has halted the cycle, Miranda explained.
"With the move to the cloud we've moved to a new release cadence, we've in fact done away with upgrades – we deliver software updates," he said.
Oracle is now offering quarterly updates across it's enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise performance management (EPM), customer relationship management/customer experience (CRM/CX), supply chain management (SCM) and human resources cloud applications suites – doubling the previously biannual release cadence.
The quarterly cycle will continue "forever", Miranda added.
The feature count per update is also increasing. With ERP/EPM, for example, the number of new features in the first quarter of 2018 totalled 147, and rose to 310 in quarter three. With SCM the last quarter saw 320 new features compared with 101 at the start of the year.
More customers using cloud based applications also means Oracle benefits from "immediate and precise" feedback loops on usage, Miranda added.
"We have sophisticated telemetry on the applications, we can now monitor which features are being used, which features aren't being used, which features are fast, which are slow, and get direct input based on real customer usage to help us tune the application," Miranda said.
"When you combine all these things together you've gone from a frankly a vicious cycle of slow to update, very little feedback, slow adoption to a virtuous cycle of fast to adopt, fast to innovate, fast to change," he added.
Making the move
In March, in its quarterly results, the company reported a 33 per cent growth in cloud software-as-a-service revenues, up to US$1.2 billion. Cloud platform-as-a-service plus infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) revenues were up 28 per cent to US$415 million.
Much of the growth is coming from new customer activity, with Oracle revealing that a relatively small per cent of its pre-existing on-premises applications customer-base has made the move to Oracle’s cloud.
In a bid to help on-premises customers make the move to cloud, in June this year Oracle announced its Soar migration product.
It features discovery assessment, process analyser, automated data and configuration migration utilities, and integration tools which can reduce the time and cost of cloud migration by up to 30 per cent, the company claims. The offering is available for Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle PeopleSoft and Oracle Hyperion Planning customers moving to Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle SCM Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud.
Oracle PeopleSoft and Oracle E-Business Suite customers moving to Oracle HCM Cloud, and Oracle Siebel customers moving to Oracle CX Cloud will be added in the future.
“It’s now easier to move from Oracle E-Business Suite to Oracle Fusion ERP in the cloud, than it is to upgrade from one version of E-Business Suite to another,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison at the time.
“A lot of tedious transitions that people once did manually are now automated. If you choose Oracle Soar, it will be the last upgrade you’ll ever do," he added.
The author travelled to Oracle OpenWorld as a guest of Oracle.