Oracle Continues Its Data-Driven Journey to the Cloud

October 4, 2019

At Oracle’s 2019 annual user event, OpenWorld, the vendor’s transformation to a cloud company was on full display across its portfolio of infrastructure, platform, and applications. From ongoing investment in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) delivering what Oracle calls its Generation 2 Cloud, to weaving analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) through its applications, the common thread was data—tying together each element of the stack. Buyers, users, and followers of Oracle have watched its market positioning evolve rapidly; this year’s OpenWorld was a major milestone in that journey.

The Generation 2 Cloud is focused on productivity and security

Running an enterprise’s mission-critical workloads in the cloud is still a daunting prospect for some, and cloud technology has been evolving rapidly in response to the raft of enterprise-grade requirements that these use cases demand. Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud is a manifestation of this evolution, harnessing a differentiated architectural approach to how IaaS and PaaS manage and secure an enterprise’s data. Along with last year’s Autonomous Database announcement, this year OpenWorld saw multiple announcements focused in this area, with three new services—Data Safe, Cloud Guard, and Maximum Security Zones—of particular note.

Looking at Data Safe reveals a set of tools and capabilities designed to mitigate data loss and other common database risks often associated with poor initial configuration. (A casual review of recent breaches demonstrates the risks of human error in deploying databases and the problems a lack of timeliness in applying patches can lead to.) Data Safe is also aimed at assisting enterprises with compliance—helping them find sensitive data such as biographical or financial information—and is further enhanced by data-masking capabilities that address some of the risks of working with data outside production environments (e.g., analytics professionals).

Eroding the problem of human error is a key advantage of the autonomous solutions offered by Oracle, and its 2018 release of the Autonomous Database was a major step in delivering next-generation IT capabilities for the enterprise. Generally available are Oracle’s Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud (optimized for analytics) and Autonomous Transaction Processing (optimized for mixed workloads, including those mission critical workloads serving applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP)). They are at the heart of the Generation 2 Cloud and aimed at delivering three outcomes every enterprise is interested in: a reduction in complexity of operation, greater security, and ease of access and elasticity.

Expanding enterprise choice with extended and new partnerships

Enterprises embarking on their own journeys to the cloud are well advised to adopt a multicloud approach to lessen dependency risks. They are equally subject to the necessity of protecting existing investments in software and infrastructure across on-premises, public clouds, and all hybrid points between. 

Earlier this year, Oracle and Microsoft announced a new partnership offering enhanced interoperability between Oracle and Microsoft’s respective clouds. This is powered by a dedicated interconnect between the two clouds which brings unified identity and access management and opportunities to run solutions across them; for example, running an Oracle application in Azure with the Oracle database residing in Oracle’s cloud. Already available in two U.S. regions, the dedicated interconnect will be rolling out to regions in Europe, Asia, and the western U.S.

Other big news came in the form of the new Oracle and VMware partnership that allows enterprises to run their VMware deployments in Oracle’s cloud without re-architecting them. This is important, as many enterprises have made considerable investment in VMware deployments, and the opportunity to take advantage of the cloud without necessitating a major reengineering effort is a valuable one. 

Oracle Analytics is designed to erode barriers to adoption and use

Oracle has always been serious about analytics, and this year’s OpenWorld made data—and its analysis—a centerpiece of many of the presentations and announcements. I do not plan on rehashing the history of analytics from decision support to current day, but it is fair to argue that the new breed of analytics platforms built in the cloud offers a far closer answer to the problems faced by businesses since they first started to create data by using computers. Why? In the past, analytics and all its predecessor technologies (such as BI) have been largely focused on expert usage, yet the benefits of the data-driven insights they can create apply to just about everyone who makes decisions in the business.

The Analytics keynote at OpenWorld highlighted the new branding in the form of Oracle Analytics (which includes Oracle Analytics Cloud, Analytics Server, Analytics for Applications, and Essbase) and three key tenets the Oracle Analytics is anchored in—augmented, integrated, and collaborative—all built on the foundation of the Autonomous Database.

Augmented analytics is a term gaining traction, and speaks to the intelligent features (generally powered by machine learning) that allow more people to get more value from analytics. Think automatically served insights from the data or proactive suggestions for potential data combinations and visualizations. These types of functionality remove the barriers to entry for new users, serving them insights without needing them to either figure out the software or possess a Ph.D. in math. Collaboration paired with ease of interaction is another major boost to use. To this point Oracle demonstrated the Analytics Cloud’s use of the Oracle Digital Assistant—querying the data on a mobile device, then sharing it via Slack.

Extending analytics across the Oracle applications portfolio

A final word must go to integration which neatly ties to another major announcement at OpenWorld: Oracle Analytics for Applications. This analyst has long made the case for embedding analytics—and the data-driven insights they serve—directly into the applications business users live in daily. And Analytics for Applications is not just about embedding: It offers enterprises a range of what can be thought of as accelerators that will likely speed the time to value for many adopters. Starting with Oracle’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud, features include a prebuilt data pipeline and data model, as well as best practice KPIs. Other applications in the Fusion Apps portfolio such as human capital management (HCM) and supply chain management (SCM) will follow. 

Given the scale of Oracle’s ERP business, and the usually tightly managed structure and quality of data within ERP, Oracle’s choice of starting point becomes an obvious one.

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Oracle Continues Its Data-Driven Journey to the Cloud The common thread at Oracle OpenWorld 2019 was data: using it, embedding it, integrating it, and more—all with a focus on the cloud.
Tom Pringle Tom is Vice President of Market Research at G2, and leads our analyst team. Tom's entire professional experience has been in information technology where he has worked in both consulting and research roles. His personal research has focused on data and analytics technologies; more recently, this has led to a practical and philosophical interest in artificial intelligence and automation. Prior to G2, Tom held research, consulting, and management roles at Datamonitor, Deloitte, BCG, and Ovum. Tom received a BSc. from the London School of Economics.