Last month, I attended the Oracle OpenWorld conference – the largest dedicated to Oracle Cloud products – in the Moscone Centre located in San Francisco.
Having attended a few of these conferences in the past, this year’s seemed a bit more understated than usual. There weren’t any red carpets, cinema-sized screens or one of Larry Ellison’s (Oracle’s executive chairman and CTO) yachts casually loitering around.
But that didn’t mean the event wasn’t as informative as always – from Oracle’s double-down on automation and regional expansion, to its brand-new digital assistant…there was a lot to report.
The rise and rise of autonomous databases
Following on from Larry’s “game-changer” announcement last year, the launch of Oracle’s Autonomous Database, this year saw Oracle wade deeper into the autonomous pool.
Oracle will now offer a dedicated deployment option for the Autonomous Database that will provide customers with the highest levels of security, reliability, and operational control for any class of database workload.
And in keeping with this trend, Oracle is also extending the autonomous database function to its flagship Linux operating system – Oracle Autonomous Linux.
Based on Oracle Linux, it has a binary-compatible operating system that allows Red Hat customers to easily port applications to Oracle Cloud.
It also automates patching and upgrades (even when the system is still running), reducing unnecessary and expensive application downtime, while reducing human error.
Regional expansion and security
In equally seismic news, Oracle also revealed its plans to launch 20 new Oracle Cloud regions by the end of 2020, bringing its total up to 36 infrastructure regions. They will also be some updates to its interconnect roadmap with Microsoft Azure.
And in a joint announcement from Oracle and VMware, Oracle Cloud VMware solution will now enable customers to migrate their on-premises VMware environments to Oracle Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure.
This is a significant move for VMware as it means it will now be available for all major cloud platforms, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and now Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
However, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution isn’t a completely managed service, so customers will need to manage their own VMware infrastructure while running within Oracle Cloud – or implement our Managed Oracle Cloud Service, of course.
On the security front, the company unveiled three new cloud services – Oracle Data Safe, Oracle Cloud Guard and Oracle Maximum Security Zones. The trio will provide centralized security configuration and posture management, as well as automated enforcement of security practices.
Oracle Digital Assistant
One of the more generically exciting announcements was the reveal of Oracle’s AI-trained Digital Assistant.
The assistant offers an enterprise-grade conversational user experience, capable of understanding context better than Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Siri.
This is because the new Digital Assistant is built on Oracle’s next-generation infrastructure, meaning it applies AI to deep semantic parsing for natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU) and custom machine learning (ML) algorithms.
So, it brings conversational AI to new applications by analyzing enterprise-specific and domain-specific vocabulary, something open and consumer-oriented domain models are not currently trained on.
Oracle claims that its Digital Assistant is the only one in the market that makes voice and user interactions more expressive by processing complex queries and deriving intelligence from available enterprise applications.
This means it can understand a user’s natural conversation, derive intent, produce compositional logical forms, and identify and learn user behavior patterns, all while proactively making choices on behalf of the user.
Oracle’s Digital Assistant also links seamlessly with our PaaS solution, FACES. This further improves the enterprise application experience for self-service users and reduces organizations’ overhead costs.
New ‘Always Free’ tiers
Oracle has added a new set of ‘Always Free’ services to its infrastructure, including an Always Free Oracle Autonomous Database.
The new tier includes tools like Oracle Application Express (APEX) and Oracle SQL Developer. It also includes two Oracle Cloud Infrastructure compute VMs, block storage devices, object storage and backup storage, along with a load balancer and data egress.
The firm disclosed that developers will now be able to access the Always Free resources as long as they want, with no time constraints and subject only to the capacity limits.
When the 30-day trial period for the expanded set of services ends, users can continue using the free services with no interruption.
A mundanity free future
Overall, it was a great conference and one I hope maintains its relevance in coming years.
And as long as it continues to adapt to future ways of working and doing business, I see no reason why the conference – and company as a whole – doesn’t keep on thriving.
Oracle’s doubling-down on autonomous was my biggest take away from the event, and the strongest indicator of the future of industry.
The ability to free employees from mundane, tedious tasks and enable them to do more interesting, engaging work is the direction every leader should be heading as a new decade looms.
The only question is – what will autonomous bring to you?