In June, Oracle entered the generative AI market, striking a deal to provide large language models (LLMs) to their customers and announcing billions of dollars in cloud computing commitments from startups training the complex systems.
Three months later, the software maker is delivering broad access to the powerful AI technology across their cloud infrastructure, electronic health record (EHR) software, data analysis tools, ERP, and customer service software. Signed business from AI developers has doubled to $4 billion.
“Generative AI showed up about a year ago now, and it changes everything. It’s certainly changing everything at Oracle,” Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison said September 19 during his keynote address at the company’s CloudWorld conference in Las Vegas.
During the conference, Oracle unveiled a generative AI cloud service, artificial intelligence enhancements to their software for healthcare practitioners, and new database capabilities for storing and rapidly retrieving the unstructured and semi-structured data used in AI systems. Oracle also announced customer management software enhancements that let marketers create campaigns or service agents summarize conversations, and a generative AI-powered assistant for business data analysts debuted.
Generative AI systems, which learn from patterns gleaned from the internet and private data sets and then help users arrive at new insights, have set off a flurry of development and funding—and a scramble for the computing power needed to train and run large language models. These models can aid in medical diagnoses, summarize market analysis, analyze conversations, create text and images, and write code. But LLMs need vast amounts of parallel processing power and fast data communication that exceeds the conventional computing capability found in most businesses’ data centers. That’s driving developers to run more of this work in public clouds, where the networks and specialized chips they need are more readily available.
“Generative AI showed up about a year ago now, and it changes everything. It’s certainly changing everything at Oracle.”
To put generative AI tools in businesses’ hands, Oracle is expanding the use of chipmaker NVIDIA’s most powerful H100 AI processors in their cloud, touting the networking speed and price advantages the advanced chips bring to the Oracle cloud computing service. Customers are responding: AI development companies have signed contracts to purchase more than $4 billion of training capacity on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), double the amount at the end of Oracle’s fiscal fourth quarter on May 31.
Oracle offers a unique cloud computing infrastructure that quickly moves data to where it’s needed for processing, then shuttles it rapidly among processors while AI models get trained, Ellison said.
Oracle is also catering to companies’ desire to quickly and affordably fine-tune standard models by adding their own data to improve predictive capabilities in specific fields. “They want to use their own training data,” he said. “The best way to do that is to put that supplemental training data into an Oracle vector database.”
“We are much faster and many times less expensive than the other clouds for training AI models,” Ellison said.
Businesses that turn generative AI to their advantage could reap big benefits. Generative AI could lift global GDP by 7%—or nearly $7 trillion—over the next decade by increasing office workers’ productivity, hastening drug discovery, and speeding software development, according to Goldman Sachs. Consultancy McKinsey & Co. estimates generative AI and related technologies could add up to $4.4 trillion to global GDP as half of today’s work in areas including sales, marketing, coding, and R&D becomes automated between 2030 and 2060.
Oracle is delivering AI-powered tools on several fronts. In June, Oracle teamed up with Toronto, Canada-based large language model developer Cohere to offer OCI customers AI capabilities based on Cohere’s technology and took an investment in the startup. The first offerings based on the collaboration are coming to market now.
Generative AI: Is it the most important computer technology ever? Probably,” Ellison said. “One thing’s for certain: We’re about to find out.
Larry Ellison Oracle Chairman and Chief Technology Officer
Savvy companies are increasingly fine-tuning generative AI models to hit higher accuracy levels than they’re capable of off the shelf. Using techniques known as “last-mile” training, they’re feeding the models modest amounts of their own data so the systems can excel at industry-specific tasks—without breaking the bank.
The Oracle chairman and CTO explains how the company is using GenAI to improve its own services and help its customers solve their biggest problems.