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How Databases Rule the World

Episode 202
Ian and Juan Loaiza, SVP of Systems Technology at Oracle, discuss how database technology has evolved and highlight the emerging technologies of the future.

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Juan Loaiza has been working on the Oracle (@Oracle) database since 1988. Today, he is the Executive Vice President of Systems Technology and is responsible for developing the mission-critical capabilities of Oracle Database.

Throughout the years, Juan has seen a lot of change in the tech world. It’s that pace of innovation that keeps him on his toes and excited about all the work he is doing with Oracle. In this episode, Ian and Juan discuss how database technology has evolved. They also talk about the many emerging technologies – such as autonomous databases, AI, and machine learning – that are central to his role as an IT leader.

[1:35] Juan’s Background And Patents

  • Throughout the several decades Juan has been working in the tech field, there have been many innovations. As the times have changed and new tech has come into play, Juan created and patented a number of different software and systems.
  • Juan came to Oracle because he wanted to build real-world systems that can make changes.
  • Juan saw that data was going to change the world, so he dedicated himself to Oracle and its work with databases.
  • “I like building complex systems that are important for the real world. So database is exactly the kind of thing that I like because database runs the world. You use the Oracle database probably a hundred times a day without even knowing it. Every time you use your phone or your credit card, you buy something at a store, get a paycheck or have some interaction with the government, even the products we use, it’s all tracked in the Oracle database.”

[4:40] Databases And How The Problems Within Them Have Evolved

  • “In the technology world, nothing stays the same for very long…. One thing you have to do is not just adapt, but embrace the change and become a leader in the change. That’s the key to surviving over decades — you have to figure out what’s real.”
  • When Juan started at Oracle, the biggest platform Oracle ran on was Vax VMS, which doesn’t exist anymore. The challenge is keeping up with that kind of rapid change where something you’re working on now will be obsolete in no time.
  • Identifying what is real and what is just a blip — such as blockchain, will that change the face of tech or not? — keeps things interesting and challenging.
  • A big bet Oracle made early on was to be independent of hardware and operating systems. Oracle was a portable platform, which was unique.
  • They also wanted to not just scale up, but scale out. They took a risk on Flash and autonomous databases in order to stay ahead of the game and be first to market with these types of tech.

[9:20] What Is An Autonomous Database And Why Is It Important?

  • Enterprise databases are the databases that run phone companies, banks, and other huge corporations. They are extraordinarily complex and need tens of thousands of engineers to run smoothly.
  • Oracle has been taking these systems and piece by piece trying to automate them and make them self-managing.
  • “We’re reaching a point now where we’re able to go beyond automating piece parts and eventually you get close enough where you say, ‘We’re now going for the prize of a fully autonomous, fully self-managing database that handles all the different challenges for very large businesses at scale.”
  • Juan likens building an autonomous database to a self-driving car — the system is complicated, so they’re trying to make it a little simpler and take away some of the human element.
  • Skilled labor is hard to find and it costs a lot. Reducing the reliance on that is one of the main reasons Oracle is pursuing an autonomous database.
  • Security is another reason for building autonomous databases. Threat levels have gone way up, so the types of systems you need have become much more complex as well.

[17:20] The Role Of The IT Leader Has Changed

  • Security threats used to be just an IT problem, but now it’s something that affects organizations at all levels, including CEOs. A security breach could be a company-ending situation. If you’re a CEO and get fired for a data breach, there’s a good chance you’ll never get hired again.

[20:00] The Importance Of Data Moving Forward

  • More of what we do is online, automated and having to do with data. And data is the fuel for competition among businesses.
  • Creating Exadata — a hardware/software platform — offers customers a product at a better cost which offers better security and functionality. They use that platform and the structure of it to also work in the cloud.

[24:20] Winning In A World Where Your Customers Expect Perfection

  • It boils down to paying attention to the architecture and details and thinking it through.
  • You have to hire good engineers, support your customers and when issues come up, you have to troubleshoot in an efficient way.
  • You have to be a company your customers can rely on by developing an excellent product and then a reputation they can trust.

[30:45] What Breakthroughs Are On The Horizon?

  • Cloud, in-memory technologies, machine learning, and AI are all on the brink of becoming huge aspects of all tech.
  • Part of the challenge is picking through the tons of ideas for the ones that are going to break through.
  • When you talk to customers and start hearing the same idea several times, that’s when you have to start paying attention.

[42:00] Creating A Company That Lasts

  • “I don’t know if there’s any trick that I can give people, but you hire really smart people, you see who really performs, and then you hold on to them and you promote them.”

[42:20] Lightning Round

  • Best advice for a first time C-level executive:
    • “The hard thing is keeping your eye on the big picture and time management. You just have to carve out time to keep your eye on the big picture because as you move up, a zillion things try to interrupt you.”

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