AI advances up Oracle cloud stack with launch of autonomous PaaS

Profile picture for user pwainewright By Phil Wainewright February 11, 2018
AI advances up the Oracle cloud stack as autonomous PaaS joins its cloud platform alongside the already launched autonomous database

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Last fall, Oracle unveiled its autonomous database, which automatically manages performance, patching and maintenance without direct human intervention. Today, Oracle confirms the imminent availability of autonomous PaaS, bringing the same AI-powered management capabilities to its platform-as-a-service offerings. The 'self-driving' PaaS also incorporates AI-powered services that developers can use when building applications on the platform.

While some AI services such as chatbot functionality will be available to on-premise customers, autonomous operation of the database and platform is only available in the Oracle Cloud. The announcement of the Oracle Autonomous Cloud Platform, timed to coincide with today's Oracle Cloudworld event in New York, is part of a carefully planned migration that will also see the majority of Oracle SaaS applications moving to the autonomous cloud during the summer.
Customers will now have even more reason for moving to the cloud, says Amit Zavery, EVP of Product Development, Oracle Cloud Platform, who pre-briefed diginomica on the news:

Customers can now take all of the cloud services we have and get that capability for automation, where we can eliminate all of that human labor ...

This will be more compelling for a lot of customers that have large systems, with cost implications for operating and running them. Adopting these kinds of cloud features and services frees them up to focus on a lot more strategic investment, versus mundane day-to-day operations.

Autonomous operation will "eliminate human labor to provision, secure, monitor, backup, recover and troubleshoot," says Oracle. The platform can automatically upgrade and patch itself while running, and adjusts the compute or storage in use based on workload. It repairs itself to minimize unplanned downtime, and monitors activity to automatically respond to security threats, as well as ensuring that security patches are up to date and data is encrypted.
In addition to these autonomous management capabilities, which it shares with the autonomous database, the platform also brings autonomous capabilities into functions such as application development, integration and analytics.

Autonomous PaaS developer tools

Tools that developers use to build applications or integrations will be able to make recommendations based on machine learning analysis of what's been done in previous instances. The platform will be able to suggest integrations between different SaaS and on-premise applications, and automate the creation of data flows from different data sources. It will also be able to identify and correct security issues in a developer's code, and automatically set security and performance monitoring parameters.

The integration capabilities demonstrate the advantages of being able to analyze patterns from across a diverse customer base, says Zavery.

We can recommend as well as populate the integration endpoints. It does reduce a lot of the cost required when you're doing integration between multiple systems.

It's self-defining integration — we understand what are the different endpoints, what schemas map, what other users have done, what works and what makes sense — so we can use that information.

Developers can also include autonomous capabilities in their applications to help end users. These include self-learning chatbots that converse in natural language and can learn to automate repetitive tasks and frequent actions. In analytics, autonomous capabilities can automate data discovery and preparation or even present key findings with appropriate visualization and commentary.

More reasons to move to the cloud

These additional capabilities will be a significant boost to developer productivity, providing further reason for enterprises to move to the cloud platform, says Zavery:

Our first goal was to give the autonomous capabilities across our core foundation. Then adding autonomous capabilities into the development and deployment environment.

Not needing that much resource to manage and run the services is a big win for customers. Using autonomous in application development and integration, the ability to deliver modern applications faster is going to be important to them.
When they start using the AI and ML capabilities in our platform and start seeing the predictive capabilities because of that, I think they'll really start seeing the benefits.

While on-premise customers will have to move to the cloud platform to get the autonomous functionality, it will automatically be available to existing cloud PaaS customers. They shouldn't need to refactor their applications unless they specifically want to incorporate new functionality, says Zavery:

It's still the same set of interfaces. The core capabilities they're using shouldn't change much. It's all inherent in the services. When the services get upgraded, they automatically get the services within their applications.

My take

Although Oracle's announcement today accentuates the autonomous management capabilities — which as CEO Mark Hurd has said, reduces significant IT risk that increasingly concerns enterprise leaders — the automated tools for developers are an equally significant aspect of the cloud platform. Reducing time-to-market for new applications is also high on the CxO wishlist, and what Oracle is delivering here will have a big impact.

Specialist integration vendors are also investing in proactive AI recommendations to shortcut integration logjams, while analytics vendors are looking to AI to make their tools more accessible and productive for end users. Allied with Oracle's recent investments in developing serverless computing, chatbot technology and other cutting-edge application development trends, the vendor has created a highly competitive cloud platform even without the extra benefit of autonomous operation. For many customers contemplating how best to move to the cloud, this all helps to make Oracle's platform a lot more tempting than starting over by themselves on some alternative platform.