The word “Automation” in Robotic Process Automation can cause confusion: Francios Lancon, SVP and Head Oracle JAPAC business

Artificial Intelligence use cases can be bucketed into two major categories i.e. Consumer IT and Enterprise IT. But what does AI mean in the Enterprise IT world? We hear a lot about Oracle’s latest autonomous database and thought of reaching out to Oracle to learn the full potential of Artificial Intelligence when applied to Enterprise IT. Oracle has a very significant presence in the global Enterprise IT market and is undergoing per Mark Hurd, Co-CEO, a “once in a life time” transition from on-premise to cloud software delivery model. It would be interesting to understand how Oracle adopts Artificial Intelligence and the road forward.

Francios Lancon, SVP and Head Oracle JAPAC business

Therefore, Sangram Aglave, Contributing Editor, BW CIO caught up with Mr Francios Lancon who heads Oracle JAPAC business to get more details around Oracle’s autonomous database technology. We also asked for his views and opinions surrounding contemporary conversations around the topic of AI as of today. Edited excerpts below.

Workers like database administrator receive formal training. How does Oracle train its autonomous database?

It learns in a similar fashion to how people learn - through experience.

The Oracle Autonomous Database is learning from the log files it’s constantly collecting, it's constantly looking at queries, results, and it's constantly tuning itself, creating indexes, dropping indexes, creating new partitions, doing all of these things with continuous tuning. And it is not just doing this for a single database, but for across all the databases enabled with this technology across Oracle, so it sees lots of data, lots of anomalies, and learns way beyond what is possible within just one organisation – no matter how large.

How do you differentiate between automation and autonomy?

Automation is about operating or controlling a system or process using electronic devices and set rules so as to reduce human intervention to a minimum; but you still need it. Autonomous on the other hand is about being self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only.

Do you think Robotic Process Automation is a tautology as Robots are expected to be autonomous by default?

The inclusion of the term "automation" in robotic process automation (RPA) can cause confusion. RPA can include ML or AI, but typically it is governed by a set of business logic and structured inputs, and rules, which don't deviate. This is different to ML and AI which can be trained to learn and make judgements.We are definitely seeing RPA increasingly playing a big role, but it will be an RPA with machine learning, like what we at Oracle are doing is automation with machine learning, and then maybe the name doesn’t work so well any more.

Facebook is a Oracle EBS customer. How would the debate between convenience and privacy play out in the future?

Let’s leave Facebook being a customer aside, as it isn’t really relevant in this context. At Oracle, we are 100 percent committed to the security and privacy of our customer data, to the extent that all of the data held in our cloud is encrypted, so that only the customer can see what is there.

There is a broader debate about the balance between privacy and convenience, and a lot of it comes down to how data is used. In a creepy way or in a way that helps you do things more effectively or efficiently. If the customer believes they are getting something of value back, then they are more prepared to sign up to things and let companies using their data.

Do you see the future belong to an exhaustive list of purpose-built machine learning services from large Enterprise IT vendors like Oracle?

We believe that the future of IT is autonomous cloud – which is a whole new category of cloud services. This is because it brings an ideal state, where your IT department doesn’t have to worry about the day to day operations, but provides higher value to your business – focusing on new innovative models, the new creation of new applications, really better ways to service your customers, your employees, your partners. Really that’s what IT should be focused on… really strategic core tasks focus versus operations, which is what they have to deal with 80 percent of the time today.

Can you share Oracle’s Machine learning platform strategy? How will the Training and Inferencing markets evolve?

Oracle has a pervasive approach to ML, embedding AI into its applications, providing an AI development environment and also a world-class infrastructure to run specialised workloads.We recently announced that we are expanding our bare-metal-computing-in-the-cloud offerings with a service that incorporates Nvidia Corp.’s Tesla graphics processing unit chips. Oracle AI Platform Cloud instances come pre-installed with familiar AI libraries, tools, and deep learning frameworks, including Caffe, Jupyter Notebook, Keras, NymPy, scikit-learn, and TensorFlow, among others.


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