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Oracle cloud services could make inroads with new IaaS, ERP apps

Oracle cloud services continued their march into the furthest reaches of the enterprise as the vendor released a new round of "as a service" products for IT and business users.

Relaunching its infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform with more compute power that it said will better serve the needs of the enterprise, Oracle has set its sights on public cloud leader Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In keynote speeches at the recent OpenWorld conference, Oracle CTO Larry Ellison acknowledged AWS as an IaaS pioneer, but said its technical lead "is over," and claimed that Oracle cloud services will have more than twice the power of AWS in such key measures as memory and storage.

"What they seem to be thinking is, this is a way to differentiate from AWS, from Google -- essentially saying that Oracle is the company that understands business," said Brian McKenna, business applications editor at ComputerWeekly.com, TechTarget's London-based IT news site. "It's not just providing IT."

This new IaaS offering could be especially interesting to current Oracle customers, who might be more likely to "lift and shift" to IaaS as opposed to tactically playing with platform as a service or software as a service (SaaS), McKenna said. Oracle is trying to position itself as the business partner, "whereas all AWS can do is provide basic IT."

McKenna discusses the latest developments in Oracle cloud services with David Essex, executive editor of SearchManufacturingERP, in this video.

Oracle cloud services expand to machine learning

Oracle also announced machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) software, called Adaptive Intelligent Applications, which combines third-party data with real-time analytics to make recommendations in finance, human resources, marketing and the supply chain. Company officials said the applications will only be available in Oracle SaaS products.

Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd characterized the machine learning apps as tools for day-to-day work, such as the simple task of ordering business cards, but somewhat disparaged competing AI technologies, including IBM Watson Analytics, as "a bit of a hobby," according to McKenna.

Oracle is also expanding cloud services and applications into more business processes such as revenue management and public sector ERP.

"It seems as if they are … offering so many enticements now for their customers to go to the cloud," Essex said. "They are maybe ahead of SAP now in this."

He compared SAP's gradual release of business process modules for S/4HANA, its next-generation ERP suite, to Oracle's growing list of SaaS offerings.

"It's hard to see where the truth lies," McKenna said. "Oracle will say, our great advantage is we do software and hardware -- we have these engineered systems. "SAP would say, we're not in the commodity hardware game."

In contrast, ERP competitor Infor has touted its choice of the AWS public cloud to run its SaaS products, he said.

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