This is my first visit to the Oracle OpenWorld show in exactly ten years. Much has changed since I was last here, both at Oracle and in the world of enterprise computing at large.
One of the most momentous changes is in respect of cloud computing. I was at OpenWorld in 2007 because I sensed Oracle was starting to get more serious about the cloud. But at the time, it was still early in Oracle's cloud journey. The company's then President Charles Phillips took me into a side room to make sure I fully understood how Oracle was defining the cloud and how it operated its data centres. I had to concede its approach was logical not only for Oracle itself but crucially for its customers, and was encouraged by the talk of taking a "stair-step" progress to fully on-demand computing.
But in the intervening decade, I've often become impatient with Oracle's
agonisingly slow progress in traversing those stair-steps. Only since the beginning of last year has there been a distinct change of pace. It's as though the company had been biding its time until the moment when it believed its customers were ready, before finally starting to make its move.
Opening up the throttle
At this year's Oracle OpenWorld, the company is opening up the throttle. The launch of Oracle 18c, the new autonomous version of Oracle's flagship database, is a platform that will significantly accelerate enterprise transition to the cloud.
Here's how I look at this. I've watched all the early cloud providers evolve their platforms — Amazon, Salesforce, many others. They've built up a huge amount of expertise in operating cloud data centers in order to deliver unprecedented availability, security and reliability. What Oracle has done by building AI-powered autonomous operation into its database is to productize that expertise.
Now, instead of having to custom-build a high-availability, highly secure cloud data center in order to operate at the same level as an Amazon or a Salesforce, an enterprise simply has to sign up for the Oracle Cloud. It's as revolutionary for cloud computing as the Model T Ford was for the automobile industry.
So I'm glad to be back at OpenWorld this year — I think I've chosen an auspicious time to be here. And I'm curious to find out more about five topics in particular.
- Autonomous — Obviously I want to drill into the autonomus database technology and understand exactly what it's offering. I want to understand how much the autonomous technology extends in the PaaS offering, which significantly extends its impact on a broader range of application scenarios. And what are the limitations of the machine learning — has Oracle overpromised here?
- SaaS — I'm wondering what's happening with Oracle's portfolio of SaaS applications, many of them acquired over the years. How well integrated are these solutions into Oracle's core products such as Fusion and PaaS?
- Hybrid — How exactly is Oracle supporting its customers running hybrid environments, whether as part of a transition to the cloud or simply because the enterprise has deliberately chosen to operate both cloud and on-premise in parallel? This is very important for all of our Oracle's customer base and they are looking to the vendor to help them map a manageable path to the cloud — one that works with their concerns and their needs as businesses.
- AI — I want to hear more about Oracle's AI strategy. There were some interesting announcements around IOT recently, which harnessed AI to deliver pre-packaged application solutions. AI also has a key role in the autonomous database. What's the overall vision for AI?
- Fusion — I need to catch up with Fusion and understand how it fits into the overall Oracle technology roadmap. I'm also intrigued to find out what's coming next. There is a lot of change happening in enterprise applications these days, what does Oracle have planned?
I'm here with several other members of the diginomica team and Stuart and Den are watching remotely so you can look forward to plenty of coverage from us during the week, including a good number of customer stories alongside the vendor announcements and analysis. Watch this space.