This week, Supply Chain Matters is attending the Oracle OpenWorld conference held in San Francisco. In this first dispatch, we highlight the Sunday opening keynote.

The opening keynote on Sunday traditionally features Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison among other presenter’s, and he never disappoints. As noted in our prior blog posting, Ellison had already indicated that Oracle would make a significant announcement relative to totally autonomous database technology, and that was indeed the focus of this year’s opening keynote.

The product announcement turned-out to be twofold, a totally autonomous database and what was described as highly automated cyber security. The timing of such an announcement is obviously very-astute with the recent news of the massive Equifax data security breach that exposed the personal data of over 140 million consumers. In his remarks, Ellison described the planned new 18c Database release as revolutionary as the Internet itself, a term that he does not tend to use often. Hyperbole aside, Oracle is taking a rather bold step in pre-announcing such a capability with such far-reaching capabilities. As Ellison quipped, “we had better get this product release right.”

This initial keynote provided an emphasis on this new autonomous database capability. Ellison’s second keynote on Tuesday will delve into the automated cyber security features also being planned.

The foundation of the this new autonomous database technology is machine learning, namely finding patterns in lots of data-related transactions and automatically identification of any abnormalities or outliers to such data, such as the need for a patch. Ellison continually emphasized that this new capability overcomes the need for humans to schedule planned down times for patches or database upgrades. He explained that the new technology can self-diagnose and patch by taking advantage of a combination of machine learning, clustering and fault tolerance technology capabilities, which he noted is not technically easy to accomplish. In essence, the database constantly adapts and tunes itself automatically without the need for constant attention from database administrators. He described this development as: “the most important thing we have done in a long-time.” That is a significant statement given that Oracle has already made a complete transition toward all aspects of Cloud-based technology. Once more, Oracle plans to guarantee 99.995 percent uptime availability in customer contracts along with a guarantee of operational cost that will be less than that for databases running on Amazon’s web services.

In terms of timetable, the initial form of autonomous database capability has planned market release availability for December of this year. The timetable for OLTP autonomous database, that which mission critical applications may reside on is currently planned for a June 2018 release. Both will be available for either public or private Cloud deployments. Oracle plans to offer pay-as-you-go pricing as-well, allowing more budget flexibility for IT teams in planning their overall compute infrastructure needs. Another planned feature is that IT teams will be able to input simple parameters, such as the database will only be used for development operations as contrasted with business mission critical requirement. Each parameter will drive different forms of autonomy and consequently database operating costs, again providing added cost flexibilities. For instance, test development would likely be the lowest cost option.

Ellison further stressed that this new autonomous database technology will not impact the current work of database professionals but rather free-up time to accomplish more strategic needs such as multiple database design or data analysis. Obviously, this remains to be seen.

Indeed Oracle has made a significant product pre-announcement, one that will likely have quite a ripple effect in enterprise and supply chain management focused technology circles in the month’s to-come. From this Editor’s lens, this announcement will especially escalate direct competition among Oracle and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Cloud infrastructure hosting. Considering that many Cloud based procurement, supply chain and transportation management systems are hosted by AWS, specialty technology vendors will be paying close attention.

Stay-tuned for further dispatches for the remainder of this week.

Bob Ferrari

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