Oracle adds AI development service to platform offerings

Oracle came late to the cloud and it’s been playing catch-up in recent years trying to add a wide range of services that customers are going to be demanding from a cloud vendor. To that end, the company added artificial intelligence as a service to its dance card today at Oracle OpenWorld.

The company has been busy today with a flurry of announcements including a new autonomous database as a service and a shiny new blockchain service. The artificial intelligence service is an extension of these announcements.

Artificial Intelligence has become table stakes for developers and they need a set of tools and technologies that make it relatively easy for them to tap into AI capabilities without requiring deep subject knowledge to make use of it.

Interestingly enough, the AI service being announced today is an extension of the tools the company has been using in-house to build AI-fueled applications for their own customers. The service is designed to give their customer a similar set of tools to build their own AI applications.

Jack Berkowitz, vice president of products and data science for Oracle adaptive intelligence, says the internal teams work with the internal developers in a kind of symbiotic relationship. “One thing is we try to push use cases as far as possible. The [internal development teams] give us technology and we also drive the technology. We are the biggest customer internally. We bring together those pieces so we can build [intelligent] apps,” he told TechCrunch.

Amit Zavery, senior vice president at Oracle Cloud says like blockchain, it’s about providing a set of services for customers, and giving them the tools to build apps on top of the service. He says this involves offering common frameworks, libraries and development tools around that and making them available as a platform service. The service lets developers use common tools like Google Tensorflow, Caffe or Neo4j, and runs on top of NVidia GPUs to provide the speed machine learning typically demands .

Zavery says Oracle is trying to make it easier for customers to build AI applications. “What we find with these frameworks and tooling, is that it’s not easy to set up as an integrated offering, and the evolution is happening so fast that it’s tough to keep up with what you should be using in terms of APIs around that.” The service is designed to alleviate those issues for developers.

In addition to the general AI development platform, the company is offering more specific offerings around chatbots, Internet of Things and adaptive intelligence apps that will all be available in the coming weeks.