2019 – a landmark year for cloud adoption in India: Oracle’s Akshay Aggarwal

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With every passing year, the cloud adoption among enterprises globally has been growing substantially. And Indian enterprises are no different when it comes to cloud adoption.

These businesses understand the value and benefits that cloud brings to the table, despite the concerns around data security and management.

Oracle is one of the tech majors that has been at the forefronts in enabling the growth of cloud and its adoption among Indian organizations, including SMBs and startups.

To facilitate organizations and businesses in India, Oracle has launched Gen 2 Cloud region in Mumbai that comes with locally available integrated offerings of applications and cloud services.

In this interview, Akshay Aggarwal, Director – Cloud Platform, Oracle India talks to TechHerald.in about the cloud adoption trends in Indian organizations in 2019, significance of cloud strategy and the rise of cloud-native applications. He also discusses, Oracle’s security approach to cloud and the Oracle Gen 2 cloud offering and shares outlook on cybersecurity and the threats landscape in 2020 and much more.

Edited excerpts…

Q1. There’s been growing uptake of cloud services globally including India. Despite the security concerns, businesses today are not much hesitant to use cloud services. So what actually is driving the cloud uptake in India and elsewhere? What are your observations on this trend?
Akshay Aggarwal
: Indian organizations understand that cloud is now a business imperative. As businesses become more and more data-driven, unlocking insights to keep pace with the digital economy is only possible with a modern, enterprise-grade Gen 2 cloud.

2019 was a landmark year for Indian organizations from a cloud adoption perspective. They understand the need to transform into digital-first businesses and are ahead of some of their APAC peers when it comes to cloud adoption.

Key drivers for moving to the cloud include increasing access to enterprise-grade solutions, the need for CIOs to focus more on accelerating innovation to drive core business growth, and a dynamic business landscape powered by several new technologies. India’s vibrant SMB sector and a growing startup base are contributing to this growth.

From a cloud security perspective, a piecemeal approach will not work. A holistic security strategy that secures your critical data at rest and in motion, with a cloud that comes with autonomous cyber-defense capabilities, is the way to go.

Q2. While enterprises and businesses are relying more on cloud services – do they have any clear cloud strategy or policy in place that actually deals with data management in the cloud, data and cloud security, authorize access to cloud data and so forth? Your comments.
Akshay Aggarwal: There is some progress to be made on this front. Per our latest report on data management trends, we observed that only 50% of organizations in APAC are confident about their data mastery skills and capabilities – i.e. their confidence levels to be able to effectively manage, secure and gain insights from data, while using it responsibly.

A key takeaway is that, even with the treasure trove of data at their disposal, organizations still seem to lack a clear, holistic data strategy. The starting point is to work with a cloud provider who understands your data practices.

Oracle has securely managed the bulk of the world’s data for the last four decades – security is in our DNA. So we understand data and the power it can bring to the table – and like I mentioned, we understand security by default.

7 out of 10 customers I’ve met in the last 6 months have all discussed the modalities of instituting a holistic, secure data management strategy. And this trend will only get better as CXOs become more analytical in their decision-making.

Q3. There have been number of instances of cloud outages, failure of cloud services as well as security breaches. So has the time come to relook at cloud architecture, how services are delivered and leverage new technologies to build and develop a next generation of cloud?
Akshay Aggarwal: None of the first generation public cloud offerings in the market today were architected to accommodate traditional application architectures. They were architected primarily for net-new cloud native applications. Think websites, mobile apps, or ecommerce storefronts – certainly not financial systems, government workloads, or data-intensive applications.

Many enterprise workloads simply cannot run in hypervisor-based environments, as they don’t provide the performance predictability and high availability often required by traditional enterprise applications. They are also not in perfect harmony with the tooling and security infrastructure historically deployed on-premises, in a complex ecosystem cultivated over decades.

We’ve purposely-built our second-generation cloud from the ground up to meet the requirements of large enterprises and complicated workloads. Oracle Gen 2 Cloud is the only cloud that can replace the on-premises data center, enabling companies of any size to run even the most mission-critical, high-volume, high-performance applications and databases, but with all the immense benefits of public cloud.

With the launch of our Gen 2 Cloud region in Mumbai, and with our integrated capabilities – i.e. applications and platform cloud services available locally – customers and partners in India can harness the power of Oracle Cloud and generational innovations such as Oracle Autonomous Database to unlock innovation and drive business growth.

Q4. How is Oracle addressing the cloud security scenario along with data management, its accessibility and security overall?
Akshay Aggarwal:
As we look back at 2019, organizations saw a tremendous increase in not only the use of cloud for business, but the value of their data and applications hosted in the cloud. According to Oracle and KPMG’s annual Cloud Threat Report for 2019, seven out of 10 indicated they use more business-critical cloud services than in 2018 – and we expect this trend to continue even strongly in 2020.

Like mentioned earlier, we have a history of securely managing the bulk of the world’s mission-critical data for more than four decades. We try to embed intelligence at every layer of our cloud, with security built-in by default. Our flagship innovation, the Oracle Autonomous Database is the world’s first and only self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing database that dramatically redefines the concept of data management.

In fact, it is the most successful new product introduction in our forty-year history. Early adopters have started to realize significant business benefits, including new growth avenues, improved productivity and operational efficiencies, along with enhanced customer delight.

From a data protection perspective, Oracle Cloud brings a 360 degree approach to security, which is why security is embedded by default, with security from the core to edge. We understand the importance of compliance and governance.

This is why we offer enterprises integrated governance through a combination of identity and access management, role-based access controls, and granular allocation and auditing capabilities so that enterprises are not forced to compromise their governance practices when moving to our cloud.

To counter the threats emanating from the edge of the network, into the core of cloud management, we’ve strengthened our security portfolio with a web application firewall, DDoS protection, Cloud Access Security Broker and a key management service.

Q5. Recently, the global ‘Oracle and KMPG Cloud Threat Report 2019’ has been released. So what are the top 3 findings from this report?
Akshay Aggarwal :
Here are my top three takeaways from the report:

a) Machine learning may help decrease threats: 53 percent are using machine learning to decrease overall cyber security threats, while 48 percent are using a Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) solution to automatically trigger a second factor of authentication upon detecting anomalous user behavior.
b) Security events continue to increase while shared responsibility confusion expands: Only 1 in 10 organizations can analyze more than 75 percent of their security event data and 82 percent of cloud users have experienced security events due to confusion over cloud shared responsibility models.
c) Cloud adoption has expanded the core-to-edge threat model: An increasingly mobile workforce accessing both on premise and cloud-delivered applications and data dramatically complicates how cybersecurity professionals must think about their risk and exposure. The number one investment area was training in 2018, but in 2019, training slipped to number two and replaced edge-based security controls (e.g., WAF, CASB, Botnet/DDoS Mitigation controls).

Q6. How do you see the cybersecurity landscape evolving in 2020 and beyond?
Akshay Aggarwal:
Hackers will only get smarter! The industry doesn’t have enough cybersecurity professionals to manage the burgeoning cybersecurity risks. Organizations that depend more on humans to thwart cyberattacks will have an uphill task.

Given hackers typically use sophisticated technology like AI/ML/bots to attack, sooner rather than later, businesses will need to strike a fine balance between deploying more machines vis-à-vis humans to counter the threats. In a nutshell, cybersecurity will almost become a machine v/s machine combat – where the good machines take on malicious ones.

And sooner rather than later, organizations will have to embrace an autonomous approach to IT. Oracle Autonomous Database is a great first step to begin their journey.

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