Oracle continued its push into the cloud this week -- with enhancements aimed primarily at existing customers.
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At the Oracle CloudWorld conference in New York, the company discussed new infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capabilities, the Oracle Database Cloud Service on bare-metal servers, and adaptive analytics for its applications suites, among other cloud perks. It also introduced new virtual machine (VM) compute, load balancing and storage features that will each live on the same IaaS platform.
The expanded IaaS offerings aim to better support web-scale and enterprise applications. With the additions, Oracle's IaaS lineup now includes one-, two- and four-core VMs that run on the same virtual cloud network as its bare-metal compute service, block volumes and object storage.
Oracle said its databases running on bare-metal nonvirtualized infrastructure can better meet the performance needs of I/O-intensive e-commerce, transaction processing and analytics jobs. That and other elements target the Oracle cloud squarely at existing customers.
"For non-Oracle shops, it will be a tough sell in the current state," said Larry Carvalho, research manager of cloud platform and developer services at IDC.
But in the long-term, if Oracle can add a variety of easily consumable services, it could open up the Oracle Database Cloud Service and other components to more startups that see benefit in Oracle's integration of platform services and analytics, Carvalho said.
While the base functionality in the Oracle Database Cloud Service isn't an exceptionally innovative addition to an already competitive field, Oracle may stand out for connecting its software as a service (SaaS) suite to its IaaS platform to give customers the ability to build cloud applications quickly, according to Carvalho.
Oracle has a good roadmap, but it's still new in the cloud field compared with its competition, Amazon Web Services in particular. It has a chance to differentiate itself from AWS and other rivals, but time is short, Carvalho said.
Why not AI?
Like other cloud contenders, Oracle has begun to focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) application enhancements. Its early forays take the form of Adaptive Intelligent Apps, which were announced at the Oracle OpenWorld 2016 conference last September and discussed in further detail at yesterday's event.
This software, accessible via Oracle cloud APIs, embeds analytics and AI capabilities in Oracle's customer relationship management, human resources and other application suite offerings. Adaptive Intelligent Apps can tap into the company's Data Cloud, which is a large bank of third-party data available as a service. Much of that data was obtained with Oracle's 2014 purchase of BlueKai.
"Oracle has revealed that they're working on an automated machine learning capability that will create models unique to each and every [Adaptive Intelligent] Apps customer," said Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research Inc. "They're also promising 'supervisory controls' that will give customers the ability to tune the machine-learning-based predictions and recommendations."
There aren't enough data scientists to meet organizations' needs to automate predictions and recommendations, Henschen said, so AI and machine learning on the cloud is an important step. Oracle sees Adaptive Intelligent Apps as a cloud differentiator, but more detail is needed, he said. He expects the company to launch the first Adaptive Intelligent App in May, with some more applications to become available this summer.
Because machine learning applications rely on large amounts of data, Oracle's move to connect its extensive data-as-a-service capabilities becomes a sort of "ace in the hole" in the cloud competition, according to Denis Pombriant, author and managing principal at Beagle Research Group.
Oracle Data Cloud has billions of clean records, Pombriant said. "These can be used to augment whatever a business has online, and that leads to better offers and better decisions," he said.
Oracle's overall cloud position is unique, according to Pombriant. Within its large installed base are many large installations, and the migration to the cloud will take years for them. The company's recent emphasis on IaaS is aimed at customers whose first move to the cloud would be to shift existing applications with little change, he noted.
Cloud regions become more available
Oracle said it will buttress its overall cloud offering by opening three new data centers, or cloud availability regions, over the next six months. These are set for Virginia, the U.K. and Turkey.
A spokesperson admitted that, while the new regions improve performance, the need to colocate data to meet privacy compliance requirements in foreign countries played a role in choosing the locations of the regions.
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