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OpenWorld 2017: What we learned about Oracle's AI, cloud strategies

Oracle used this year's OpenWorld conference to debut a range of AI-powered tools across its ramped up cloud-based offerings.

Oracle CTO Larry Ellison delivers a keynote speech at OpenWorld 2017. (Image: CHARLOTTE FIORITO)

In 2016, Oracle used its annual OpenWorld conference to demonstrate its commitment to the cloud -- and its drive to take on infrastructure leader Amazon Web Services.

At this year's conference, the tech giant continued to ramp up its cloud offerings, introduce new developer-friendly technologies to the Oracle Cloud and infuse it all with a healthy dose of artificial intelligence.

Here's what we saw from Oracle this week:

More on what we learned about Oracle's strategy:

INTEGRATING AI

Just about every cloud vendor is embracing AI and machine learning, but Oracle this week attempted to set itself apart. The highlight of this effort came in the form of Oracle's new 18c autonomous database and its highly automated cybersecurity system.

In his keynote address Sunday night, Oracle co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison stressed the revolutionary nature of machine learning and pitched Oracle's autonomous database as unique to the industry:

"This is a big deal by the way. No one else does this," Ellison said. "This is the most important thing we've done in a long, long time."

The database can run itself and tune itself, saving enterprises time, money and the headaches that come with human error. All of that is amplified with the highly-automated security system, which works with 18c to detect anomalies and help the database patch itself.

"The way to prevent data theft is more automation," Ellison said in his second keynote address on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd used his Monday keynote address to reiterate Oracle's approach to AI: It shouldn't be a standalone application, he said.

"In the end, what you're really going to see is AI built directly into each of these user cases... as opposed to exporting data to some AI solution," he said. "Application wise, these are going to become features engineered directly into applications."

MOVING TO THE CLOUD

Hurd on Monday also reviewed Oracle's ongoing cloud strategy. The company's focus has been to "get the apps right first," he said. The next priority is to "get our platform rewritten and built for the cloud," he said, "then really rebuild our infrastructure strategy... [to] enable customers to be able to shift to the cloud or start in the cloud."

Hurd added, "This movement to the cloud... this is an inevitable destination."

Oracle highlighted its continued investment in NetSuite, which it acquired for $9.3 billion last year, helping the cloud company expand its geographical footprint and bolster its product offerings at a ramped up pace.

The company also updated its cloud applications, most notably with "adaptive intelligence" cpaabilities.

Oracle also made overtures to cloud developers, expanding its mobile cloud portfolio with new chatbot capabilities and rolling out the Oracle Container Native Application Development Platform.

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