I returned from OOW18 energized and ready to enter a new phase of my IT career: Instead of fulfilling a pre-sales role, for the first time in the last four-plus years I’ll be concentrating on researching deeply the capabilities of Oracle Database technology, both in the Oracle Public Cloud and for on-premises solutions. And it looks to me like this transition is happening at the best possible time, based on what I encountered at OOW18 last week.
Front and Center: Autonomosity
Here’s my impressions of just two key takeaways from that conference:
Autonomous Database isn’t going away. Larry Ellison doubled-down on Autonomous DB at both of his keynote sessions. I wasn’t surprised by that because as Larry says, Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW) and Autonomous Transaction Processing (ATP) are two of the more revolutionary offerings that Oracle has produced in some time. Yet in a way, they’re simply the logical progression of the “autonomosity” (to coin a phrase) of the Oracle Database and its powerhouse enterprise systems characterized most by the Exadata Database Machine.
I could definitely tell this development has quite a few of my Oracle DBA colleagues rattled, based on the standing-room-only crowds for just about any session whose title included the words the future of the DBA role. And maybe that’s good! IMHO, plenty of us have lost touch as to what being a DBA really entails; first and foremost, we should be focused on helping our customers – our development teams and business development units – build better applications and systems, and we can’t do that treating our role like it’s a job when it’s really a career – or, even better, a profession.
Automatic Indexing. Probably the most interesting new feature – coming in Oracle 19c, but entering beta testing as I write this! – is the ability for ATP to decide precisely which SQL statements need precisely which indexes to run better. Maria Colgan presented the basics of Automatic Indexing at our ACE Director briefing and I’m hoping to get a chance to poke it with a stick in the coming weeks. But here’s the essence of this new feature: it’s exactly what we’ve been doing as DBAs whenever a query or application malperformed – except now, it’s happening based on tireless observation and dispassionate decision-making through machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Stars On the Horizon, Rising In Prominence
And here are two topics that are definitely rising in prominence, based on interest I observed at OOW18:
Chatbots. The new technology that Ellison demonstrated in his second keynote when he submitted an expense receipt for reimbursement to the Oracle Digital Assistant was nothing short of amazing. Personally, I really enjoy doing expense reports more than most people – and I hate doing expense reports! – but the new chatbot-enabled technology made short work of submitting the request.
And that’s just a simple example of what chatbots promise. Ellison also demonstrated the ability of Oracle’s latest generation of Fusion Cloud applications to seamlessly create a mini-data warehouse with a few simple mouse clicks, and even answer verbal questions about Oracle’s ongoing efforts to hire the best and brightest candidates.
I even got a chance to experiment with the Pepper chatbot at The Hub for a few hours – one of eight new exhibits that my ACE colleagues and I manned to demonstrate the future boundaries of these new technologies. I was surprised at the flexibility of her communication interface, but not yet convinced Pepper will be taking my place as a speaker anytime soon.
Blockchain. Sessions on anything with the word blockchain in the title were heavily attended as well. That’s not a big surprise, of course; this technology, once it comes to full fruition, will offer some fascinating capabilities, especially the ability to preserve and traverse the myriad twists and turns of complex financial transactions. My colleague and fellow ACE Robert van Molken from the Netherlands – who just published a 500+ page book on Oracle Blockchain – discussed several alternative applications of blockchains, and I’m planning on diving deeply into this nascent technology in 2019.