Enabling organisations to move workloads to the cloud while keeping their data on their own premises, Oracle has launched the Cloud at Customer solution in South Africa.
Oracle Cloud at Customer is designed to enable organisations to remove one of the biggest obstacles to cloud adoption—data privacy concerns related to where the data is stored. While organisations are eager to move their enterprise workloads to the public cloud, many have been constrained by business, legislative and regulatory requirements that have prevented them from being able to adopt the technology. These first-of-a-kind services provide organisations with choice in where their data and applications reside and a natural path to easily move business critical applications eventually to the public cloud.
“Oracle Cloud at Customer is a direct response to the remaining barriers to cloud adoption and turning those obstacles into opportunities by letting customers choose the location of their cloud services,” said Francois-Xavier Leclercq – Senior Vice President Business Development EMEA & APAC applications. “We are providing a unique service that enables our customers to leverage Oracle Cloud services, including SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, both on their premises and in our cloud. Customers gain all the benefits of Oracle’s robust cloud offerings, in their own datacentres, all managed and supported by Oracle.”
Underpinning Oracle Cloud at Customer is a modern cloud infrastructure platform based on converged Oracle hardware, software-defined storage and networking and a first class IaaS abstraction. Oracle fully manages and maintains the infrastructure at customers’ premises so that customers can focus on using the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services. This is the same cloud infrastructure platform that powers the Oracle Cloud globally.
Customers will also have access to all of Oracle’s major PaaS categories, including Database, Application Development, Analytics, Big Data, Application and Data Integration, and Identity Management with Oracle Cloud at Customer These services take advantage of specific enhancements that have been made to the underlying Oracle Cloud at Customer platform such as servers with faster CPUs and NVMe-based flash storage, as well as all-flash block storage to deliver even better performance for enterprise workloads.
Oracle has also made available via Oracle Cloud at Customer, the ability to consume Oracle SaaS services such as Enterprise Resource Planning, Human Capital Management, Customer Relationship Management, and Supply Chain Management in their own datacentres. These best-in-class, modern applications help unlock business value and increase performance by enabling businesses and people to be more informed, connected, productive, and engaged. Major organisations are already adopting this new option to modernise their key enterprise operations and benefit from the speed of innovation in Oracle SaaS without having to move sensitive application data outside their premises. With the addition of SaaS services to Oracle Cloud at Customer, customers have access to Oracle Cloud services across the entire cloud stack, all delivered in a subscription-based, managed model, directly in their datacentres.
Also, newly available is the Oracle Big Data Cloud Machine, which is an optimised system delivering a production-grade Hadoop and Spark platform with the power of dedicated nodes and the flexibility and simplicity of a cloud offering. Organisations can now access a full range of Hadoop, Spark, and analytics tools on a simple subscription model in their own datacentres.
Oracle Cloud at Customer delivers the following Oracle Cloud services:
- Infrastructure: Provides elastic compute, containers, elastic block storage, object storage, virtual networking, and identity management to enable portability of Oracle and non-Oracle workloads into the cloud.
- Data Management: Enables customers to use the number one database to manage data infrastructure in the cloud with the Oracle Database Cloud, including Oracle Database Exadata Cloud for extreme performance and Oracle MySQL Cloud.
- Big Data and Analytics: Empowers an entire organisation to use a single platform to take advantage of any data to drive insights. Includes a broad set of big data cloud services, including Oracle Big Data Cloud Service, Oracle Analytics Cloud, and Oracle Event Hub Cloud.
- Application Development: Enables organisations to develop and deploy Java applications in the cloud using Oracle Java Cloud, Oracle Application Container Cloud, Oracle Container Cloud, and Oracle WebCenter Portal Cloud.
- Enterprise Integration: Simplifies integration of on-premises applications to cloud applications, as well as cloud application to cloud application integration using Oracle Integration Cloud, Oracle SOA Cloud, Oracle Data Integrator Cloud, Oracle GoldenGate Cloud, Oracle Managed File Transfer Cloud, and Oracle Internet of Things Cloud.
- Security: Enables organisations to use Oracle Identity Cloud to implement and manage consistent identity and access management policies.
- Software-as-a-Service: Provides organisations with a complete suite of software to run their businesses, including Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle CX Cloud, Oracle HCM Cloud, and Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud.
Oracle Cloud at Customer
The Oracle Cloud at Customer portfolio of services enables organisations to get all of the benefits of Oracle’s public cloud services in their datacentres. The business model is just like a public cloud subscription; the hardware and software platform is the same; Oracle experts monitor and manage the infrastructure; and the same tools used in Oracle’s public cloud are used to provision resources on the Oracle Cloud at Customer services. This is the only offering from a major public cloud vendor that delivers a stack that is 100 percent compatible with the public cloud but available on-premises, ensuring that customers get the same experience and the latest innovations and benefits using it in their datacentres as in the public cloud.
Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities
Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.
Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.
Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.
Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.
African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.
Embracing mobility to drive ROI
Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.
Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.
Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.
By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:
· Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities
· Access both historical and planned work information when requested
· Permit customers to sign when the job is completed
· Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders
· Create new fault reports on routing
· Facilitate documentation through photo capturing
· Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.
The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.
Brands fall for app vanity
The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.
Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity.
In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis.
While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities.
Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI).
It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind.
Why apps won’t win the internet
The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement.
Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge.
Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance.
Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps.
However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year.
On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.
When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience.
In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development.
So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base?
The logical app alternative
The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are.
Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short.
Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience.
Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.)
Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts.
Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI.