Tag: cloud

Role Transition for Cloud Vendors in OTT Media Streaming | Blog

Over-the-top (OTT) streaming – or, simply, delivering media content directly over the internet – has redefined the media content consumption landscape. In 2019, the number of active global monthly OTT video subscribers surpassed 750 million, accounting for more than 30 percent of digital video viewers globally. Cloud vendors have significantly contributed to this exponential growth by providing core cloud-native delivery infrastructure to OTT players at lower costs, making it much easier for them to reach global audiences and dynamically scale their workloads with just a few clicks. In fact, over the years, the role of cloud vendors has shifted from infrastructure providers to prime drivers of technology for the OTT industry – so much that they now lead media technology altogether. Initially, cloud vendors’ core offerings comprised storage, processing, transmission, packaging, and transcoding, which enabled OTT players to gain scale, cost, and flexibility benefits. Now, the cloud has become the default infrastructure provider for OTT delivery. In fact, all of the flagship OTT players have migrated to cloud-based OTT workflows. For example, Netflix completed its migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2017, and Spotify completed its Google Cloud Platform adoption in 2018. The major cloud vendors, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, lead the global technology landscape, and they are leveraging their expertise in advanced technologies to offer not only their core functional offerings but also compelling value-added services over the cloud. These value-added services include:
  • Direct content ingestion Cloud providers like AWS and Azure offer direct content ingestion capabilities to OTT players, enabling them to either ingest content directly from a camera to a cloud-based management system or stream it live to various platforms. They also enable content creators to shoot videos through smartphones and send them via mobile networks to production and content management systems operating in the cloud, bypassing camcorders and live production trucks.
  • Native language translation Cloud providers such as Google offer application programming interfaces (APIs) with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities for native language translation, which allows audiovisual content localization and translation, making it convenient for OTT players to expand their reach globally.
  • AI-powered encoding Vendors like AWS and IBM have integrated AI with their cloud-based offerings, and cloud-based OTT workflows intensively leverage AI to provide a better viewing experience. AI helps to better monitor network traffic, improves compression techniques, and offers adaptive encoding techniques to stream HD videos over low bandwidth networks.
  • Video indexing Video indexing services, such as Azure’s video indexer, automatically extract advanced metadata from audio and video content, including spoken words, written text, faces, brands, and scenes. OTT players can leverage the extracted data to generate insights and increase the discoverability of their content, improve the user experience, and enhance monetization opportunities.
  • Advanced targeting Cloud providers like AWS and IBM leverage advanced analytics services such as device ID-based content tagging to provide recommendations for better viewer targeting, which enables advertisers to reach out to specific, targeted, and identified audiences. OTT players can utilize these recommendations for better content monetization.
These additional services have become core differentiators for cloud vendors versus traditional Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that offer media streaming solutions. They’re also enabling OTT players to create true differentiation in their offerings. Additionally, the cloud has become a great leveler for players who are entering the OTT market relatively late, as it provides them the latest cutting-edge technology at the click of a button, saving them precious time in getting up and running. It will be interesting to see how the market shapes up in the next 12-18 months, as more content and production houses start setting up their OTT platforms and make the existing battle of viewer acquisition and retention fiercer. For more industry-leading insights on the OTT industry, please reach out to Akshat Vaid and Shivank Narula.

Let the Cloud Wars Begin: Notes from Oracle OpenWorld Europe 2020

Oracle held the European edition of its flagship event, OpenWorld, in London recently. Against the backdrop of cloud wars, leadership changes in the ecosystem (Mark Hurd’s untimely demise and the change of guard at SAP), and blazing growth by hyperscalers (the two boutique firms in Seattle), the market is keenly watching what Oracle has in store. Here are my take-aways from the event.

1. Cloud FOMO: Oracle is investing heavily in its datacenter footprint and expects to have 36 regions by the end of the year, with a datacenter opening every 23 days. It claims it will have more regions than AWS by the end of 2020.

This is turning out to be a common trend among hyperscalers and cloud vendors, creating an asset bubble. Capital spending is at an all-time high, as the exhibit below shows. Will this create further price wars and overcapacity in the market? Only time will tell.

2. Doubling down on data: Oracle announced a slew of initiatives aimed at infusing data and, to a lesser extent, AI across its offering stack:

    • Expanded DataFox’s data pool across AI and managed data. Oracle acquired DataFox in 2018 because of its sizable data assets covering ~2.8 million public and private businesses to enable predictive decision making. Now, DataFox natively integrates across the Oracle SaaS stack, sourcing over a billion data points annually to improve the data quality of Eloqua and Sales Cloud as well as third-party applications.
    • Launched a new Oracle Cloud Data Science Platform to build and deploy AI and ML models.
    • Expanded its Autonomous Database offering to support the integration of algorithms within databases and added new ML capabilities, with support for Python and automated ML.

3. Ecosystem bets in a multi-cloud world are crucial: Oracle is now sharpening its focus on partnerships and the ecosystem to compete in the multi-cloud environment – this is on the back of its Azure and VMware partnerships. With Microsoft Azure, it announced a new interconnect facility based in Amsterdam. Because Amsterdam is a crucial European datacenter location and hub for Oracle, this facility will help companies in the region share cross-application data and move on-premise workloads to the cloud, according to Oracle.

4. Cloud interoperability – are we there yet?: With Google Anthos and Azure Arc, interoperability is back. While the partnership with Azure did highlight some degree of interoperability progress, I didn’t see enough. This is likely a prickly concern for enterprises as cloud vendors start erecting their own walled fortresses, hindering true interoperability. We have opined on cloud interoperability before, and it’s going to be a key issue for the ecosystem to solve over the next 18-24 months, especially as the cloud-native conversations gather momentum.

5. The dawn of the new CEO mindset: One of the highlights of the event was a client showcase. The CEO of Italian coffee major, illycaffè, Massimiliano Pogliani, spoke to Oracle CEO Safra Catz about a critical aspect of modern business – the changing role of the new CEO. He described it as being the activator of collective intelligence across the organization's human capital. He also described his company's mission around three themes: good (product obsession), goodness (sustainability), and beauty (the experience.) We are seeing greater recognition by some forward-looking CEOs of their purpose and impact, including Novartis CEO Vas’ focus on the journey to unboss and Salesforce chief Marc Benioff’s call for a new type of capitalism.

 The cloud landscape is becoming very interesting as all segments attack the opportunity: hyperscalers continue to invest in expanding their datacenter footprint; enterprise platform providers are focusing on verticalization (e.g., ServiceNow under Bill, Salesforce acquiring Vlocity); and system integrators are trying to keep up with the massive implementation opportunity while battling a talent shortage. We are going to see share shifts as these changes gather steam. From an enterprise perspective, the cloud conversation is now veering toward journey-in-the-cloud versus journey-to-the-cloud, aka lift-and-shift. This shift is bringing total cost of ownership (TCO) back into the picture. We are in for interesting times ahead. What’s your take on today’s cloud wars? Please share your thoughts with me at [email protected].

Hyperscale Cloud Providers Shaping The Platform Marketplace | Blog

Today, nearly all companies invest in assembling digital platforms as a source of significant efficiencies and competitive advantage. Platforms enable a data-driven world and allow companies to create new business value in improving experiences for customers, employees and partners. Multiple platforms and other software components usually comprise the platform a company assembles. For example, a consistent component of almost all platforms is the heavy use of cloud and the rich set of capabilities available from the hyperscaled platforms. But companies need to understand the consequences of the presence of this component in the platform they build.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

How Cloud Operations Are Changing In 2020 | Blog

Fundamental changes are happening to the core set of assumptions that underpin how cloud ecosystems have been operating.  Some of the traditional assumptions are no longer true today or won’t be true soon. The changes are for the worse – they raise prices and introduce significant additional complexity for companies that operate in a hybrid and multi-cloud environment. Read more in blog on Forbes

Koch Industries’ Takeover of Infor Signals Key Bet on Cloud ERP Market | Blog

Infor – a global leader in business cloud software specialized by industry – announced on February 4, 2020, that Koch Equity Development (KED) LLC, the private investment arm of Koch Industries, Inc., has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Golden Gate Capital’s equity stake to take 100 percent ownership of Infor. Before the agreement, Koch Industries owned about 70 percent of Infor. While the official figures are not out, public sources peg the deal at close to US$13 billion, including preferred shares. Why did Koch do this? Here’s our analysis of the key reasons.
  1. Riding the ERP demand bandwagon: Our recent analysis indicates that ERP-focused process transformation and modernization drove over 30 percent of all digital transformation initiatives in 2019. While Oracle and SAP are the largest players in this space, more than 35 percent of the market is still comprised of a long tail of bespoke ERP, where there is likely to be huge churn and consolidation. Infor promoters wanted to ride this growth opportunity through an IPO.
  2. SAP/Oracle in the equation: SAP is the largest player in the ERP market, and its current licenses are reaching end of life in 2025. Also, it’s well known that SAP is currently offering significant incentives to nudge enterprises to accelerate their move to S/4HANA, especially its cloud version. Oracle is using a similar incentive-oriented approach for its cloud-based applications. Promoters of Infor probably saw how this competitive dynamic would play out.
  3. Taking the private route instead of IPO: In a market driven by incentives, a privately-owned organization backed by a diversified cash rich promoter probably gives Infor a better shot at competing with its much larger competitors. For a listed firm, navigating a growth-oriented strategy (by de-emphasizing margins) would have been a tough nut to crack. Plus, competing with larger peers will require a significant investment in product modernization.
  4. The Koch portfolio companies: The jury is still out on whether Infor can credibly compete with SAP and Oracle in the broader ERP market. However, as the second largest privately-owned conglomerate in America (Cargill is the largest), the parent Koch Industries can enable a captive market for Infor to start with.

Deal implications

For Infor – potential growth through synergies: As we’ve already noted, this acquisition may give Infor access to a captive customer base in Koch Industries’ subsidiary and partner network. Given Koch's presence in more than 60 countries, this may also allow Infor to expand the geographic footprint of its client base, especially in markets outside of North America where it has limited presence. This is coming at a time when enterprises in Europe and APAC are beginning to embrace SaaS offerings. For Koch – potential RoI: We see this takeover as a typical private equity play to improve the value of an existing asset by riding the ERP demand wave. While Koch Industries has been making investments in its portfolio on the technology sector, we do not see this tweak in ownership as a sign of change in Koch’s portfolio mix. Given that a large chunk of Infor’s client base is still struggling with aging on-premises applications, Infor will need strong investment backing to convince its existing user base of its long-term cloud ERP vision. For systems integrators – potential opportunities: Koch industries generated over US$100 billion in annual revenues in FY19. While we do not have estimates for the ERP transformation opportunities within Koch portfolio companies, it is likely to be a significant opportunity for systems integrators to focus on, using an Infor playbook. For enterprises – better incentives, more supply-side investments: If Koch backs its investment with a large innovation fund, enterprises may gain on the following parameters:
  • Better incentives: Due to intensifying competition, enterprises may see more creative financial solutions and incentives around cloud-based ERP
  • Verticalized product offerings: Industry-focus and verticalization is gaining traction in the ERP space. Koch’s expertise in industries including manufacturing, chemicals, energy, petroleum, finance, and commodities may lead Infor to accelerate micro-vertical solutions faster than its competition.

The path forward

Infor has seen almost flat growth of around 3 percent over the past five years, due primarily to its long-term focus on SaaS revenues, which directly cannibalized its existing license revenues from on-premises offerings. In FY19, Infor’s SaaS revenue – which is about 20 percent of its overall revenue base of US$3.2 billion – grew at approximately 21 percent, while its licensing fees declined at about 12 percent. Given this strong focus on SaaS, Infor is well positioned in the manufacturing and allied verticals to overcome some of the critical cloud migration challenges and cater to some industries’ process-specific demands. However, over the past year, there have been multiple big-ticket acquisitions in the enterprise platform market, geared to improving product capabilities – especially in areas related to cloud and analytics. In this hyper-competitive space, it will be challenging for Infor to compete credibly at scale based only on promoter-backed cash flow. Watch this space for more on how this move pans out.

Cloud IaaS Versus SaaS: The Fight for Industry Cloud | Blog

A blog I wrote last year discussed the ugly market share war among the three top cloud infrastructure providers – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure (Azure), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP.) Now we need to talk about how Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) like Oracle, Salesforce, and SAP are changing the battle with their industry-specific clouds.

Cloud IaaS vendors don’t have an industry cloud

The fact is that AWS, Azure, and GCP don’t really have industry clouds. These cloud IaaS vendors enable clients to run business applications and services on top of their cloud platforms, but haven’t built industry-specific application or process capabilities. They acknowledge that their clients want to focus more on building applications than infrastructure, which defeats their positioning in the industry cloud market. The core of what they offer is compute, data, ML/AI, business continuity, and security, and they rely on technology and service partners to build industry-relevant solutions. For example, GCP partnered with Deloitte for cloud-based retail forecasting, and AWS joined with Merck and Accenture for a medicine platform. They are also partnering with core business application vendors such as Cerner and Temenos.

Cloud SaaS providers have an edge

ISVs have continued to expand their industry cloud offerings over the past few years. For example, in 2016 Oracle acquired Textura, a leading provider of construction contracts and payment management cloud services, SAP introduced its manufacturing cloud in 2018, and in 2019 Salesforce launched its CPG and manufacturing clouds. Further, Oracle and SAP have built solutions for specific industries such as retail, healthcare, and banking by focusing on their core capability of ERP, supply chain management, data analytics, and customer experience. And while SFDC is still largely an experience-centric firm, it is now building customer experience, marketing, and services offerings tailored to specific industries. So, what will happen going forward?
  • Industry cloud will change: Today’s industry clouds are one more way of running a client’s business; however, they are still not business platforms. Going forward, industry clouds will become something like a big IT park where clients, partners, and other third parties come to a common platform to serve customers. It will be as much about data exchange among ecosystem players as it is about closed wall operations. Enterprises in that industry can take advantage of specific features they deem appropriate rather than building their own. And, they will become a “tenant” of the industry cloud vendor’s or ISV’s platform.
  • Cloud vendors will heavily push industry cloud: AWS, Azure, and GCP will push their versions of industry cloud in 2020 and beyond, with strong marketing and commercial campaigns. They’ll likely be tweaking their existing offerings and creating wrappers around their existing services to give them an industry flavor. But, of course, the leading ISVs have already launched their industry clouds and will expand them going forward.
  • Channel push will increase: Both the cloud infrastructure service providers and the ISVs will aggressively push their service partners – especially consulting firms like Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, and PwC. The cloud vendors will also push their technology partners to build solutions or “exclusively” migrate applications onto their clouds.
  • Mega acquisitions: Historically, there hasn’t been any major acquisition activity between infrastructure providers and large software companies. But one of the top infrastructure providers might acquire a “horizontal” ISV that’s making inroads into industry clouds, like Salesforce or Workday, rather than buying a vertical industry ISV. Disclaimer: I am not at all suggesting than any such acquisition is in the cards!
So, what should enterprises do?
  • Be flexible: Enterprises need to closely monitor this rapidly evolving market. Though the paths IaaS providers and ISVs take may not meaningfully conflict in the near future, there may be stranger partnerships on the horizon, and enterprises need to be flexible to take advantage of them.
  • Be cautious: Because the cloud vendors’ channel partners are being pushed to sell their industry cloud offerings, enterprises need to fully evaluate them and their relevance to their businesses. Their evaluation should include not only business, technical, and functional, but also licensing rationalization, discount discussions, and talent availability for these platforms.
  • Be open: As the market disrupts and newer leaders and offerings emerge, enterprises need to be open to reevaluating their technology landscape to adopt the best-in-class solution for their businesses. This is as much about an open mindset as it is about internal processes around application development, delivery, and operations. Enterprise processes and people need to be open enough to incorporate newer industry solutions.
What do you think about industry clouds? Please share with me at [email protected].

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