Oracle Co-CEO: The Next Wave Of Cyberattacks Will Be 'Bigger Than You Think'

Oracle Co-CEO Mark Hurd put the software giant's efforts to grow its full-stack cloud business in the context of larger economic trends on Monday, telling OpenWorld attendees cloud is becoming an essential resource for customers looking to cut costs and reduce risk.

At the annual conference, which drew more than 60,000 attendees to San Francisco this year, Hurd's keynote detailed a brutal business landscape in which companies increasingly need cloud providers to cut their IT budgets and take the operational load off their staff, especially in implementing security.

While digital transformation is expected, IT budgets aren't increasing, and almost every security upgrade motivated by a high-profile intrusion cuts into the customer's innovation spend, he said.

[Related: Ellison Opens Oracle OpenWorld With Oracle Database 18c Debut]

Sponsored post

Hurd emphasized the challenges on CEOs in the current business environment. The average tenure for a chief executive is 18 quarters—the short lifespan likely due to market conditions. GDP growth is relatively slow, so companies across industries are mostly competing for the same market share, while fending off disruptions from startups.

While achieving growth is incredibly difficult in those conditions, the event most likely to make a CEO walk the plank, as seen so many times in recent years, is a data breach.

And despite the headlines, most recently regarding Equifax, the business community probably hasn't seen a truly shocking cyberattack just yet, according to Hurd. But they almost certainly will.

"I'm telling you, the next event might be bigger than you think," he said. "This thing is going to get more serious, not less serious."

Oracle's working to help companies avoid being victimized by hackers by offloading software administration duties onto its cloud. That's a facet of a multitude of new products, from an autonomous database to a blockchain service to upgrades across dozens of Software-as-a-Service applications.

Artificial intelligence is another key area of product innovation being showcased at this year's OpenWorld.

In a media conference after his keynote, Hurd said AI has often been "a solution looking for a problem."

But Oracle has focused on applying the technology to directly solve business problems.

"We don’t think of AI as just a discrete solution looking for a problem, but really integrating AI and getting that as close to our applications as possible," Hurd said.

On Oracle's overall cloud strategy, he told media: "we build the apps, platform, or infrastructure enabling customers to start in the cloud."

While Oracle products span the entire stack, they come in one configuration as far as servers, operating systems and networking, ensuring a degree of simplicity for customer IT environments.

That approach is driving success, he said. Oracle's cloud revenue was up 51 percent year-over-year, to $1.5 billion in the last quarter, delivering an annual cloud revenue run rate of $6 billion.

That "universal cloud" philosophy is complemented by Oracle's Bring Your Own License policy, which was expanded last week to include Platform-as-a-Service, including the Oracle database. That is more than a pricing mechanism, he said, but a way for many companies that have already made investments to realize the benefits of cloud.

Customers that bought on-premises software and support, "can simply take that license and move it to the Oracle cloud," paying only for the additional infrastructure costs.

That reduces the "tremendous cost," Hurd said, encountered by "continually trying to tune these databases, optimize these databases, secure these databases."

Imagine the savings for a customer like AT&T that's running 12,000 Oracle databases, he added.

"If you transfer all the labor form you to us, and when we do that work it gets done better," Hurd said. "Then imagine it gets done better at a lower price."

Responding to a media question on new restrictions to immigration policy, Hurd did swing, albeit extremely carefully, into national politics, making clear he was on shaky ground to say anything political, but thought it important to voice his opinion.

"I don’t like this at all, to be very frank with you," he said of Trump administration restrictions on foreign workers.

"I don’t understand how we let somebody into this country to go to our schools, earn degrees, and then not allow them to practice the trade they trained and learned on here in this country. Start companies here, pay taxes here," Hurd said.

Hurd also took the opportunity of his keynote to repeat several predictions he made last year, including that all Dev/Test will eventually be done in the cloud, 80 percent of production apps will run in the cloud, and 80 percent of IT spending will be on cloud services. Then he relished showing comments from critics slamming those predictions contemporaneously, along with new data from analysts suggesting they're in fact on track to become reality.

Terri Strauss, who runs the Oracle practice at Accenture, told CRN that "everything around Oracle is absolutely the journey to cloud."

The software giant has invested years in maturing a massive SaaS portfolio, she said.

"SaaS for us has hit the enterprise level, and that is very significant," she said of Accenture's practice, which has a roster of Global 2,000 companies. "There's a hunger now to move their applications to SaaS."