Tag Archives | oracle

Three Basic Mistakes That Can Derail Cloud Software Adoption

Cloud Computing Best Practices for Salesforce for Financial Services Industry

The great news for customers of a Software-as-a Service (SaaS) product is that the vendor is incentivized for your success, since you pay as you go. A good SaaS provider backs their product with a solid customer success program to make sure their customers use the product. That doesn’t mean customers will always be able to successfully use the product. Sometimes, lack of enthusiasm from the customers’ side can become a stubborn barrier to adoption.

I manage the Success Team at Navatar and I can proudly say that 95% of our clients are successfully on-boarded to our cloud platform. We see some common themes across the ones that don’t. Here are some of them:

1. Lack of leadership buy-in:

Change is difficult. If senior leadership is fully behind the rollout, they can generally push through the message to the entire team. We have seen scenarios in which adoption never occurred as it was not mandated. Most people continued to do their day-to-day tasks as a new product meant additional workload.

If senior leadership shows interest in the new product, everyone pays attention. It really works when management can set usage targets for employees. I have also seen quite a few of our customers give out usage awards, based on employee activity in the new system. The goal is for employees to recognize that the rollout is important to management.

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Is Oracle’s Cloud Multitenant? Does It Matter?

Meg Bear of Oracle, who manages their Cloud Social Platform, hammered multitenancy in her post “Multitenancy and Other Useless Discussions,” on Oracle’s blog.  She says “multitenancy doesn’t matter … in the same way that your VHS player having progressive scan doesn’t matter.” Saying that I disagree with Meg would be an understatement. I casually responded to the post but the Oracle moderators didn’t approve my response (seems like they only allow their own marketing people to comment on their blogs), so let me try to provide a more cogent argument here.

When (prominent) people make claims such as this one, it may either be because they’re old school (and haven’t yet grasped the realities of the cloud) or they’re just making a self-serving statement. Since Oracle has historically taken a consistent stand against multitenancy (see my article O Multitenancy: Will Thy Survive Oracle), I would guess it’s the latter.

So, first let me just say it bluntly. If you’re buying a product which is labeled “cloud” but is not multitenant, you’re simply buying on-premise software. It may still be good software but it is not cloud software. The entire concept of the cloud is based on sharing resources, which is accomplished through multitenancy. My InformationWeek article, “Why Multitenancy Matters in the Cloud,” highlights why a buyer should care about multitenancy.

You cannot compare multitenancy in the cloud to a feature in a VHS player. An apt comparison would be with the concept of an assembly line in manufacturing. What Henry Ford, with the assembly line, gave to the world was a radically efficient way of producing vehicles. The other automakers at that time, who didn’t switch to this model, claimed that it didn’t matter to the car buyer how the operations of a car manufacturing plant were structured, as long as the car had all the desired features (technically, they were correct). In due course, however, each of the automakers was either forced to switch to the assembly line or go out of business, because of all the reasons now apparent to everyone.

Marc Benioff and salesforce.com demonstrated to the world what multitenancy can do – they did to software what Henry Ford did to manufacturing (or Steve Jobs did to mobile computing). If their tremendous success isn’t evidence, wait for a few more years to witness the gradual demise of the traditional software delivery model (that doesn’t mean the traditional vendors won’t fight tooth and nail to convince the world that the cloud and multitenancy don’t matter).

In fact, multitenancy operates at several levels in the cloud world. Salesforce is multitenant and Navatar, another layer of cloud software used by financial firms, which sits on top of Salesforce, is also multitenant. Which means that as and when either Salesforce or Navatar improves, all customers automatically benefit. As more customers sign up, they share the cost, so both Salesforce and Navatar benefit.

So getting back to the Oracle platform, Meg does say that it is also multitenant, but according to her, what really matters is business value, not multitenancy. That’s stating the obvious – of course, no product (even it is a photocopier) can survive if it doesn’t deliver business value. But why the stand against multitenancy?

As, I wrote in my InformationWeek article, “Those who say multitenancy isn’t necessary to making the cloud model work are typically companies that have long made money from on-premise software and don’t want to cannibalize their existing revenues. They might offer a subscription for their single-tenant application, but this could simply be the software license, maintenance, and hosting fees divided into monthly payments which almost certainly would be much higher than a comparable multi-tenant application.”

That may be one explanation – Oracle may prefer to install boxes at every client site, so naturally, they find multitenancy to be a thorn in their side. Another explanantion, as David Linthicum offers in his Infoworld post, “The Silly Debate About Multitenancy,” is that vendors often “find that building multitenant architectures is a much bigger nut to crack than they thought.”  Either way, Linthicum agrees, there should be no debate here: “Cloud computing, both private and public, requires the concept of multitenancy. The traditional providers are welcome in the cloud as long as they can provide multitenancy. If you can’t do it, then don’t try to argue that it’s not needed. Get to work!

As Denis Pombriant observes, IT is over.  As a buyer of a cloud product be aware: If you’re buying a cloud product that isn’t multitenant, you’re buying it from someone who really wants to sell you boxes or consulting or something else – there is a high probability that that product won’t survive the next few years.

Alok Misra

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O Multitenancy: Will Thy Survive Oracle?

It surely takes someone as influential (and smart) as Larry Ellison, to be able to dismiss multitenancy as a “horrible idea” (See article, Oracle’s CEO Holds Court on Salesforce, Fusion and More). Every customer being in the same database is a “horrible security model,” Mr. Ellison says. With the likes of Oracle strongly attacking it, will multitenancy die a premature death?

It is possible. After all, we’re all familiar with this story in the tech world – an upstart with a new technology starts stealing revenues from an established player, established player buys upstart, established player kills new technology and goes back to maintaining its dominance (Lauren Carlson of CRM Software Advice discusses some acquisition scenarios in her survey).

But before we start writing its epitaph, let’s consider this. Although salesforce.com introduced us to it, multitenancy isn’t a “product,” owned by one vendor – which makes it a little harder to be bought and killed. It isn’t just a cool architectural concept – customers reap real cost benefits because of multitenancy. Jefferies, for instance, would have to maintain 3 separate boxes to handle CRM, broker data and compliance for their mutual funds, versus the multitenant Navatar Mutual Fund Cloud, which helps them function without any boxes for a low monthly fee (for more on multitenancy’s benefits, see my Informationweek post Why Multitenancy Matters in the Cloud).

Multitenancy, however, has no shortage of enemies. Most legacy software vendors are beginning to lose money to smaller multitenant competitors. To protect their turf, these vendors jump into the cloud themselves but discover they don’t like the financial model (Oracle’s example discussed in my old post Oracle Cloud Computing and the CFO’s Dilemma). Their answer, then, is to have a cloud play without multitenancy?(yes, it’s possible if you can redefine what the cloud really stands for).

Even large systems integrators are no friends of multitenancy. As David Linthicum points out in his Infoworld post What cloud computing can and can’t do, consulting firms worry about losing the big bucks they otherwise make from enterprise architecture complexities. They don’t like to hear about any client efficiencies that may reduce their billable hours.

The question then is – with so many influential enemies, will multitenancy’s fate eventually turn out to be similar to Julius Caesar’s?

I don’t know. To survive, it will need many more customer ROI stories, more successful vendors as poster kids and a longer tail of cloud providers. Above all, it will need some influential champions with strong enough shoulders to carry the multitenancy flag.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts (you can read more about multitenancy in my new book Thinking of …Force.com as your key to the Cloud Kingdom, just reviewed by Sand Hill Group).

Alok Misra

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Cloud Computing Killed Siebel – Will You be Next?

Everyone knows how salesforce.com crushed Siebel a few years ago, to become the de facto standard in CRM. What started with a win in the On Demand CRM battlefield, has now revolutionized the delivery of software through cloud computing. Legacy software vendors under attack from newer cloud providers, are scrambling to protect their turf, like Siebel tried to do in the early part of the decade. However, most of these legacy vendors are fighting a losing battle.

Take the case of Netage, an established vendor that has been providing CRM to Financial Services. Netage will continue to lose deals to Navatar (read River Cities Capital Funds has selected Navatar’s Private Equity CRM over Netage Dynamo). The reason is simple: for a legacy vendor like Netage, winning the cost/value battle against a cloud provider like Navatar is next to impossible unless they can rethink their entire business model.

Legacy vendors typically give the cloud a try, as a defensive move – they launch a hosted offering, available through the internet to avoid losing business. They often try to save money by using all or some of their existing on-premise infrastructure and practice for their hosted offering (masked as a cloud offering), by avoiding the investment in a new technology infrastructure that supports multitenancy. However, the high cost of replicating and maintaining instances for each single tenant (or customer) eventually catches up with them, and their margins get lower as each new customer sucks up more resources (read Why Multitenancy Matters in the Cloud to learn more).

It isn’t just smaller companies – larger companies such as Oracle are faced with the same issue when it comes to competing with cloud providers (read Oracle Cloud Computing and the CFO?s Dilemma). But because of their size and scale, larger companies like Oracle have the ability to change the market demands/dynamics and fight the battle on a different turf.

The clock, in the meantime, is ticking for most other legacy software providers. If all they do is launch a cloud offering in addition to their on premise offering while maintaining the same business model, they will die soon. Their survival will depend on whether they can make a complete transition to the cloud world.

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Cloud Computing – Wipro & Oracle style

I just read the announcement from Wipro and Oracle about their Cloud platform for software companies in this article, Wipro Offers Cloud Computing Service, from Mary Hayes Weier of InformationWeek. According to the announcement, Wipro and Oracle are providing a service which will let software companies offer their existing applications as SaaS in a multitenant model. They claim they can move your apps into the Cloud at 50% of the cost.

Wipro is, undoubtedly, a very smart company. So is Oracle. And it definitely makes sense for two smart companies to generate some headlines. However, that’s all I see in this news item – no more. We only wish moving a software company and their customers to a SaaS model was that simple. I would understand if they were talking about providing manpower to maintain an app at 50% of the cost (that is the core business of Wipro – providing cheaper resources in India for tasks that are commoditized). We, at Navatar Group, live and breathe this every day (we help software companies move to Force.com, salesforce.com’s Platform-as-a-Service).

So what is the big issue, you may ask? The most important issue is that SaaS is more than just a technical platform. It is a business model to help you provide a “service”. A software company will die sooner if they move their existing software to a SaaS platform in this fashion. They will cannibalize their existing revenue, tick off their salespeople, lose their customers to startups and will be writing checks forever to meet daily customer demands.

Cloud Computing is a paradigm shift. A software company mustn’t jump into the SaaS model just because it’s cool and everyone else is doing it or even because it’s 50% cheaper now. They will probably survive a bit longer if they stick to their core competency – selling a “product” as opposed to providing a “service”.

To learn more about the issues faced by large software vendors like Thomson Reuters and CODA that have done this successfully, download this free whitepaper:

The Dos and Don’ts of the transition to Cloud Computing

Alok Misra

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Don’t you need these guys to create Cloud Standards?

We liked the way VentureWire said it – “noteworthy for who isn’t included…” The lead paragraph from their story is below and pretty much says it all.

Allan Siegert

Cloud Standards Effort Could Turn Into A Dustup
VentureWire, May 04, 2009

“A trade organization whose members include IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and a laundry list of other tech companies announced this week that it has formed a group to create standards for a way of accessing information over the Internet known as “cloud computing.” But the new effort is just as noteworthy for who isn’t included: Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Salesforce.com Inc. and other Internet companies….”

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