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September 21, 2016

Oracle Bolsters Cloud Gambit With Expanded Analytics

George Leopold

As it looks to challenge public cloud leader Amazon Web Services, Oracle Corp. is rolling out an analytics package spanning data services, applications and infrastructure.

Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) unveiled its analytics cloud this week during a company event used by company cofounder and CTO Larry Ellison to declare the database giant was taking on AWS (NASDAQ: AMZN) with an upgraded cloud infrastructure. One goal is to enticing developers to run applications such as data analytics in its datacenters.

With that in mind, Oracle claims public cloud deployments of business analytics software remain at an early stage of adoption. Hence, its analytics platform includes processing infrastructure that embeds cognitive and AI functionality along with data preparation and visualization tools.

The company also is stressing the ability to scale its cloud-computing infrastructure to address a range of data types and speeds. The infrastructure includes an “elastic analytics platform” that combines Hadoop, Apache Spark and Kafka-based data streaming to create clusters for processing data with MapReduce and Spark, the company said.

Along with its own database and key-value/NoSQL engines, storage includes block and object storage along with HDFS. Meanwhile, data ingestion options include streaming for real-time and event data and multisource data replication.

Seeking to differentiate its data analytics platform from a growing list of vendors, Oracle claimed its cloud infrastructure combines data processing and storage, analytical tools like AI along with analytical expertise incorporated into applications. Those applications leverage the database vendor’s expertise across different industry segments and business applications that it now seeks to extend to its cloud-based analytics platform.

Along with “domain-specific” applications such as asset and production monitoring along with supply chain management, Oracle also is emphasizing predictive analytics capabilities based on adaptive smart applications running on machine learning and other AI algorithms. Taking that capability a step further, the cloud analytics platform would allow the sharing of data models and machine learning algorithms.

Hence, the company is positioning its analytics cloud platform as tying together data, analytics tools and the multi-industry expertise. “Inexpensive computing and storage are important, but the real game changer is creating business value through better insight,” Thomas Kurian, Oracle’s president of product development, asserted in a statement.

In a further attempt to leverage its installed based, Oracle also is touting is analytics platform as providing business intelligence tools for specific industries such as construction, education, financial services, health care, manufacturing, retail and telecommunications.

Industry analysts predict Oracle’s cloud and analytics gambits will help make it a player in cloud infrastructure but take a wait-and-see approach on Ellison’s claim that it can challenge public cloud leader AWS.

Noting that the database vendor possesses formidable software assets and strong engineering, IDC’s Al Hilwa noted: “Oracle appears to be taking the high-scale approach providing large instances that may be appropriate for running database and big analytics workloads.

Hilwa agreed that “most enterprises have barely begun to put data in the cloud and so we are definitely in the ramp up of this. In terms of market leadership, I think we will have to watch how fast Oracle can crank growth to really get ahead of the competition.”

The company’s high-profile push into cloud analytics follows several moves over the last year designed to beef up its analytics capabilities. Last fall, for example, it added a cloud-based data visualization service designed to expand enterprise access to data without stressing current IT infrastructure.

Earlier this year, Oracle acquired Opower, an energy analytics company and provider of cloud services to utilities in a deal worth about $532 million.

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