NewsPartner Corner

A Phenomenal Journey with Oracle

Tarun Agarwal, Director Technology, Path Infotech

Specializing in Oracle technology stack, Oracle Infrastructure, and Oracle applications, Path Infotech has been a frontline Oracle Partner.  Clocking an incredible 200%  y-on-y growth in cloud business over the last two years, with 85% of its revenue coming only from Oracle, this Oracle Partner’s success story makes a great study in point.

At the recently conducted Oracle India Partner Kickoff 2022 in Goa, Oracle announced its revamped partner-centric strategy to help accelerate digitization for its 15,000 plus customers in India.

Always been at the heart of Oracles’ business, Oracle’s partner ecosystem has been critical to the company’s customers’ success. Their differentiated services, combined with Oracle’s technology, have enabled its customers to achieve their business goals. Integral to the company’s massive growth drive, the recent announcements are being looked up as a serious attempt to turbocharge its partner eco-system.

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“Speaking from the performance perspective, I have used it for last 34 years and I haven’t found even a single database environment, which can compete with Oracle in totality.”

Tarun Agarwal,
Director Technology,
Path Infotech

[/quote]

To understand the matrix behind the magic of partnership with Oracle, the key responsibilities and obligations of partnership, notable benefits of an Oracle Partnership, and the competitive edge brought up by Oracle solutions for partners, we had spoken to a few frontline Oracle Partners present at the gala event.  Here, in an exclusive chat with SME Channels, Tarun Agarwal,  Director Technology, Path Infotech  – a leading Oracle Partner—lays bare his valued experience as an Oracle Partner, his vision and business priorities, and his predictions for the cloud industry. Offering his industry-critical insights, he sheds light on the Oracle Partner Network and the Oracle cloud. Edited Excerpts…

Please brief us about what your company is doing.  What are your key focus areas and priorities at this moment?

There’s a little bit of a history around it. It takes us back by at least 32 years.  Our company actually started in the Oracle system in 1990. It was a time when Oracle was the first commercial Oracle database and Oracle six was actually launched. Oracle Five too was there. So, that’s where we started our journey on Oracle. And for the last, I think, almost 27 years, we have been an Oracle partner. As a frontline Oracle Partner, we specialize in Oracle technology stack, Oracle Infrastructure, Oracle applications —  with 85% of our revenue coming from Oracle. Officially, we just turned 31 on 3rd of July. And, I must say, it’s been a phenomenal journey so far.

Looking back, I would say we were at the right place at the right time. And we picked up the right database.  So, it was quite phenomenal..

If you look around, it’s clearly discernible that we have transitioned from the old age monolithic desktops to the present era of the Internet of the world,   mobile platforms and the cloud, which has become the de facto mode now. So last I think almost 4-5 years back we started a journey with cloud. We started exploring various options on the cloud.

In the last two years, we have actually grown our cloud business with Oracle, almost 200% year on year. There’s a huge traction, especially on the Oracle  OCI gentle cloud. For our customers, we do lift and shift. We have moved lot of customers from AWS to Oracle Gentle Cloud.

So that has been our focus set some 6-7 years back. You’ll be actually surprised to know that we indeed ran an Oracle application on Microsoft since Oracle Cloud was in its infancy stage at that time. But as the customer wanted cloud, we had to run the entire Fortis hospitals’ environment on Azure cloud, but the application was Oracle.

As a key Oracle Partner, would you please brief us on the specialties of Oracle cloud, which drives you to adopt and to bring in customers from AWS and other platforms to embrace Oracle?

There are two things to it. First, I’m biased towards Oracle. When I say I’m biased towards Oracle, I mean, if you look at Oracle database, there is no competitor.

Speaking from the performance perspective, I have used it for last 34 years and I haven’t found even a single database environment, which can compete with Oracle in totality. You could have a very simple database which can do one single task, but Oracle database or Oracle infrastructure is capable of doing everything.

Second, geographically, India has been traditionally an Oracle negative environment. I think some 30 years back, Oracle Six pervaded everywhere in the government.  NIC was set-up and it actually started embracing Oracle in a big way. All government started embracing, all banks too started embracing Oracle in a big way. Thus, Oracle became the de facto standard in India. So, that became a natural choice because everything, including top ten of ten of all large corporates would run on Oracle. The reason is they have been better. I would say they have the best solutions and the best database. And that’s the reason why I have brought all my customers to Oracle. The logic is if you want to run Oracle, why don’t you run it on Oracle for best optimization of results.

We are also an ISP and have a product of our own. Considering the multiple benefits of the Oracle platform, we decided last November to shift lock, stock and barrel from On Premise to Oracle. That was a big decision. I have been an Oracle technical guy for over 30 years. So, one should first practice, then profess.

I breathe Oracle and so does our organization. If you see four people there with me, including me, all four of them are Oracle vectors in the sense that they have actually worked only on Oracle.

As a Cloud player, Oracle has been adopting a cloud-first partner program. How has been your experience with OPN?

The Oracle Cloud-first partner program was recently introduced. But as I have earlier said, we have been an OPN partner for 27 years now. We signed up with Oracle in 1995.

At that time, we were not even making revenue. If remember correctly, we used to pay almost a lakh of rupees to Oracle. But that is our commitment. OPN partnership actually has bestowed upon us two very important tools. First, the enablement of my people.  I’ve got solutions available on the OPN platform.

Second, they have also given us the marketplace access, where I can actually put solutions and services which customers would be able to search and provide.

Now coming onto the partner-first program, Oracle as well as the partner ecosystem also recognizes that a partner knows more about the end customer than the OEM itself. Thus, putting the partner first will provide you with two benefits. One I can actually make more sales or I can provide a very comprehensive solution to the end customer because a partner knows the entire ecosystem well. Recognizing the partner early or engaging the partner early in a customer environment makes the entire deal obviously quite positive. And that’s a very positive sign which we have seen, when I was with the ISV team.

The other thing that happens in the partner ecosystem is the case of absence of or insufficient communication between ISVs. Suppose,  two ISVs are not talking to each other. Let’s say some ISV has the capability in JD Edwards, which is an Oracle product and I have the capability on infrastructure. In that case, I can help that partner to do a migration from on premise to cloud and the partner itself can continue providing the managed services to the end customer, while I provide the infrastructure services. So, I think this is really great and a positive way to go.

As a business leader, what would be the next big thing that you’re planning? Will it have anything to do with Oracle, or would it be Oracle-based?

That’s indeed a tough question. Well, the next big thing that we are looking at is a very comprehensive integration platform that we are developing internally.

I would call it an integration platform because the way the world is moving, it will be a hybrid world. When I say hybrid world it could be two clouds and if you looked at what Larry and Satya announced on Monday, it will be a few OEMs coming too large, providers coming together, shaking hands and providing the seamless connectivity. However, it will still be hybrid because there is a Microsoft Cloud; there’s an Oracle cloud and there is also something on premise. So,  typically you will end up with three.

That’s how the world will move. What and how? Let’s say my bank banking application wants to interact with a JD Edward Application or a .net application running on Oracle cloud, So, how do I integrate?

Integration is one of the best and most vital part. I’ll say, I’m developing a platform for that. It is going to be hosted or currently I’m using a pilot on Oracle itself. It is hosted on Oracle OCI.  And the front to that environment is my own low code, no code environment. I have developed a low code, no code environment which will be hosted on Oracle Cloud where anybody can just integrate anything.

So that would be my biggest bet tomorrow, and it would be for anything, anything in the sense that today one of my application which is running on OCI is receiving approximately 4,000,000 hits a day.  Through mobile, I’ve succeeded in getting around 35 customers. Every customer is giving me almost 100,000 calls a day. And every call is translated into at least 40 interactions. That’s how it sums up to 40 lakhs, or four millions.

That’s all being done through the mobile and everything is happening on Oracle.

As the pandemic struck the world, there had been an unprecedented rise in digitalization, and, of course, the migration to the cloud. As a result, there had been a hike in demand for cloud solutions, too. How has your company been leveraging this hike in demand?

I think that’s very positive for us, businesswise. We have doubled our revenue, especially on the cloud business. Pre-covid, we were actually making negligible revenue and as I said in the last three years, we have started on a cloud journey.

We were doing very negligible but now almost 25% of our revenue is cloud agnostic cloud based revenue which is there. The beauty of the cloud can be gauged from the shift that’s happening around now. Earlier, the CIO would request a manpower on site. With the COVID happening, the person can be anywhere in the world and you can service using the same team. So, we were able to service more customers and every customer wanted to provide their services or their internal solutions or external solutions to either the employer, to the end customer or to the vendor.  How will you do that? You can’t call them to the office. There’s no way.  So, I would share with you a very interesting thing that we did for one of our customers rather for lot of our customers. Their people needed to deliver something or need to go to some residents, let’s say, to repair an AC. During COVID time, there was no movement allowed. We created a concept of e-Pass. That e-Pass could be generated on the mobile. Their men can show the e-Pass to the police and request passage on the plea that they are out on an essential services work. And it is validated by the software. It’s a very simple solution and no rocket science.

So, I think COVID definitely helped and has a positive impact on not just our business but the IT industry as a whole and if you look at the results of all the attendees here, there is a visible surge in revenue.

Other than this, there has also been a fundamental change in mindset in the way people conduct businesses. People no longer call for interviews. People don’t call for physical meetings. They prefer to do it on zoom or on teams. Thus, there is a sea change.

There are drawbacks too. I won’t like to paint everything rosy. The biggest problem is nobody wants to come to office. They want to work from home. We have the great resignations too. As a fall out of the Great resignation, there were salary hikes up to almost 400%.  But I think it will come back. We have to be resilient. The need of the hour is automation. What Oracle and Microsoft together have done is step forward in that direction. Since they’ve merged both the clouds together, through connectivity, most of the tasks will be automated.

On the flip side, there will be job losses too, because when businesses will automate some manual work will go. However, use of automation will ensure that the work will be done 100% correctly. But obviously, there is a trade off.

Some questions ago, you had referred to Nadella and the Oracle chief announcing together. Considering these developments, as a key Oracle partner, would you forecast a future where borderless or vendor-agnostic kind of Hybrid cloud solutions will rule the roost?

Yes, that’s clearly the way to go. But I would like to just rephrase the word ‘borderless’. When you say borderless, it means my data could be parked anywhere, but I think, in majority of the cases, we are looking at data privacy. An Indian enterprise may prefer to keep the data in India, whether it is with Microsoft, whether it is with Oracle, or it’s with any other cloud provider.

And, if they all come together seamlessly, it will be a win win for everybody. I think it’s the right direction that two largest application software companies are heading. While Oracle is a leader in enterprise application software, Microsoft is the leader in consumer application software like office, exchange, e-mail, etc. Even though, Microsoft has a navigation and dynamics platform, the platform also needs integration with Oracle ecosystem. Similarly, Oracle ecosystem needs integration with the Office 365 with emailing.

Other than these, there are a lot many other things too. Nobody is talking about Facebook or Meta. But in India, WhatsApp is getting integrated in everything with every service. That’s a very prominent development. So, in that way it is borderless. But from a data privacy perspective, you may need to contain it within the country or zones or whatever you may call it.

So, when it comes to data sovereignty, most nations are quite possessive about their data. In India too, customers are apprehensive about whether their data is parked inside their country or somewhere else upon which they have hardly any control. Does Oracle host the data inside India or park them outside?

It’s a very nice question. I think it is more of a matter of trust. I can say 100% categorically that from an Oracle perspective, whichever customer wants the data to be hosted or stored locally, it is being stored locally. There could be chances where the same company has got an officer, let’s say in Europe. Now, the European Government would also want local data and so would the Indian government. So, then there is a trade off. A set of practices or a system needs to evolve to address the issue If data needs to travel across the border from one country to another. Thus, protection may not be an issue because the platform is still secure.

Issues may arise when a customer as an individual demands that she doesn’t want to store her data in your machine. So, how do you delete that data from all the systems. I think that is where most of the companies need to work upon because it’s more at an application level, not at the OEM level that you need to have those systems built in, where you will be able to trace out the entire data and delete it too.

Not just Oracle, many others like Amazon, even Microsoft have their data centers locally. Every company is actually working towards local data. Everybody is guaranteeing that it’s local data. So I think that’s trust value and a legal channel right when I sign up with Oracle, there’s a legal document.

What would be your message to the channel community as a key Oracle partner?

One of the most important things I would like to suggest is “Don’t adopt the consumption.” Buying a platform is not the solution until and unless you use it. So you should go to your end customer with Oracle or without Oracle, whatever way.

Going to the end customer, should you say please take Oracle Cloud?  Should you just make a sale? Or should you also guide the customer to consume it? It’s here the solution lies. The moment the consumption starts, that’s when the true ROI starts trickling in. So, the first thing you should do is to work with the customers; work with your end customers; work with the channel partners and other partners and create a cohesive solution, so that the end customer actually gets the benefit out of it. Second, since the industry is facing a talent shortage, the channel partners or this entire ecosystem should start investing in creating talent.

The moment you start creating talent, everything will start falling in place, because eventually you will still need people to deliver. So, adopt a customer-first approach and create talent. It will result in a win win for all.

Since Cloud is a very take-intensive platform, what sorts of partner up-skilling programs are offered by Oracle to you and your team?

There are plenty of them. You can start fresh with or without any fees.  There’s a series in Oracle called QBE or query by example and there’s also Oracle by example. There are various series where actual use cases are taught using videos with hands-on lab exercises which you can do at your own pace.

Oracle Cloud also has got a very interesting feature called as always free cloud. So Oracle provides you with almost 60% of the cloud infrastructure free of cost. Anybody can sign up and take that and it is free for life. So, any student, any developer can create an account, learn there. And once he has learned it, he can actually move to a commercial version of Oracle Cloud.

Whatever we or our team has learned has happened through Oracle University or Oracle Online education.

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