Oracle is using a lot of buzzwords to describe the enhancements to its IoT cloud that were announced on Thursday -- including up and coming buzzwords that are still mainly below the radar. The above the horizon terms are "artificial intelligence" and "machine learning." Soon to be better known, especially for those who work in and around DevOps: "digital twin" and "digital thread." Big Red is touting all four as it seeks to make its cloud more attractive to the IoT ecosystem.
The direction Oracle seems to be taking its Internet of Things Cloud Service indicates the company isn't necessarily targeting the whole IoT enchilada, which would include the plethora of connected devices that are threatening to take over consumer space. It's looking for enterprise users, mainly to manage assets within the enterprise. This isn't surprising from a company whose foundation is built on serving the enterprise.
"The offering now features built-in artificial intelligence and machine learning that powers digital twin and digital thread capabilities," Big Red said of its IoT cloud in a statement. "As such, customers and partners can quickly gain operation-wide visibility and leverage predictive insights from connected assets. These insights can increase deployment times, reduce costs, improve business outcomes, and accelerate new market opportunities."
Artificial intelligence and its stepchild machine learning need no introduction, but digital twin and digital thread could probably use a little explanation.
As a concept, digital twin has been around since 2002 -- actually much longer when you consider NASA was using it long before it had a name and that something very much like it was used to figure out how to get Apollo 13 safely home. With the Internet of Things, which has made its adoption economically feasable, it's become uber important. So important that Gartner places it right in the middle of its list of Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017.
A digital twin is a virtual model, or copy, of a physical process, product or service. Using the virtual model, problems can be found, sometimes before they happen; downtime can be prevented; and the behavior of new systems or products can be predicted through the use of simulations. Again, it's how NASA figured out that duct tape would be solution to keep the Apollo 13 crew breathing.
Digital thread is a framework connecting traditionally siloed elements in manufacturing or other processes to provide an integrated view throughout the processes lifecycle. In other words, it's basically a way of making sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing -- or has done. Creating a digital thread can be one use for blockchain technology.
The combination of digital twin and digital thread technologies with AI and machine learning through IoT can give industries -- from manufacturers to fleet operators and beyond -- powerful tools to streamline operations, reduce costs, develop new operation procedures and more.
"IoT holds the potential to transform today's siloed operations into a modern, interconnected, digital set of workflows with real-time visibility and responsiveness," Bhagat Nainani, group VP of IoT Applications at Oracle, said. "Oracle continues to push the boundaries of IoT to help our customers significantly simplify their IoT deployments. By receiving real-time data streams enhanced with predictive insights, they can reach new levels of intelligence and a much quicker realization of ROI."
Oracle needs to find success with its Internet of Things Cloud Service, which it offers as both SaaS and PaaS. For several years it's been facing a shrinking installed base for its tradional database and business offerings and its public IaaS cloud hasn't been getting much traction, despite an aggressive marketing push. It might have trouble finding meaningful IoT success as well, as enterprise users are increasingly seeking to lower costs by avoiding vendor lock-in.