Oracle took blockchain mainstream with the launch of Blockchain Applications Cloud at the enterprise tech provider’s OpenWorld annual conference in San Francisco this week.
The new suite of software as a service (SaaS) applications is intended to “enhance traceability and transparency throughout the supply chain”, according to the company.
Oracle’s blockchain applications are built with the Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service and connect with Oracle Supply Chain Management (SCM) Cloud, Oracle ERP Cloud, and others, as part of the Oracle Cloud Applications stack.
The new suite of blockchain applications is designed to enable customers to track products throughout the supply chain using Oracle’s hosted spin on the distributed ledger technology.
The aim is to improve visibility across a multi-tier supply chain, accelerate product delivery and contract execution, and create greater trust and transparency, said the company.
Track and trace
“Consumers are better informed than ever before and are increasingly interested in what is in the products they consume,” said one Oracle customer, Kyle Bozicevic, owner and brewer at Alpha Acid Brewing in Belmont, California.
“We can now track materials and premium ingredients from our suppliers and analyse sensor data from the production process for each batch. The Oracle Intelligent Track and Trace blockchain application helps ensure that we are getting the highest quality hops, malt, and yeast, and enables us to create a strong narrative around our products for customers.”
Intelligent Track and Trace is designed to aid end-to-end traceability of both goods and transactions in supply chains. According to Oracle, it creates a digital trail of each step in the business network during procurement, manufacturing, and transportation.
To date, Oracle’s other blockchain applications include:
Lot Lineage and Provenance: According to the company, this enables insights into “product genealogy”, serialisation, and provenance, by managing the lifecycle of hierarchical serial numbers, recording the origin and authenticity of product components, and tracking all changes in a product, aiding regulatory compliance.
Intelligent Cold Chain: This is intended to help monitor and track the temperature-controlled supply chain, offering recommendations to optimise processes and ensure the quality and safety of refrigerated products in the pharmaceutical and food & beverage industries.
Warranty and Usage Tracking: This is designed to automate usage tracking for high-value assets. It creates an auditable and verifiable log for warranty, liability claims, and insurance, and helps expedite settlements and claim processing while preventing the abuse of assets.
All of these applications are built using the Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service, which was launched earlier this year and is designed to help organisations build blockchain networks to drive more secure and efficient transactions with their trading partners.
Organisations already using the Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service include: Arab Jordan Investment Bank; CargoSmart; SERES; Certified Origins; Indian Oil, Intelipost; MTO; Neurosoft;Nigeria Customs; Sofbang; Solar Site Designl and TradeFin.
“We are using Oracle Blockchain as our digital platform for shipment documentation, which helps us easily track and trace shipping transactions,” explained Lionel Louie, chief commercial officer at CargoSmart.
“Our goal is to help bring more trust and transparency into the industry. In fact, we expect a 65 percent reduction in the amount of time required to collect, consolidate, and confirm data from multiple parties. We also hope to streamline data from different documents by leveraging Oracle Intelligent Track and Trace.”
IoT and AI
Oracle Blockchain Applications also make use of Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity and deploy embedded artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the accuracy of data flowing into a customer’s business network in real time, said the company.
“Many technology companies are offering a blockchain platform for customers to build on, but we wanted to go one step further,” explained Rick Jewell, senior VP Supply Chain & Manufacturing Cloud Applications, Oracle.
“We use our domain expertise to create business, user-friendly, domain-specific solutions so customers can get immediate value from blockchain technologies by transforming existing business processes.”
Internet of Business says
Oracle’s transformation into a cloud platform and service provider has been fascinating to behold.
After years of mocking cloud companies as marketing hype – despite private investments in many of them – Oracle founder, executive chair and CTO Larry Ellison’s 2012 u-turn was typically brazen and sales led, rebranding the cloud in his company’s image.
2012 was a year zero moment: anything he had said and done before did not exist. There was only Oracle Cloud.
That said, Ellison had been right in his earlier comments, and he knew it; ‘the cloud’ doesn’t exist. There is no borderless fog of code in the sky. ‘The cloud’ is primarily about data centres built on land under national laws, offering on-demand platforms, infrastructure, and services. Everything else was, and is, marketing spin.
It’s all about revenue streams and monetising rack space for the vendor, and scalability and flexibility to the customer. And now blockchain is part of that service offering – as good an indication as any that the technology has gone mainstream.
So who has Ellison turned his derision on more recently? The answer, of course, is Amazon – for a brief period the world’s second trillion-dollar company, before its shares cooled this Autumn.
Amazon – or more accurately, Amazon Web Services (AWS) – is now routinely mocked from the OpenWorld stage by the ultimate Sales Guy, with Oracle being relentlessly positioned by Ellison as better, cheaper, and more secure.
Who is in Ellison’s crosshairs in a given year is a good indicator of who is winning more mindshare than Oracle at the time, which for Mr Competitive is an intolerable assault on his ego. But that’s not to say that he’s wrong from a technical standpoint.
‘AI with everything’ and enterprise-grade security are the other big messages from OpenWorld this year. And – like the cloud before it – the subtext for Oracle is all about the underlying hardware, and the stack of software that sits on top of it.
Ellison said, “I’m not talking about a few software changes here and a few software changes there. I’m talking about a completely new hardware configuration for the cloud.
“It starts with the foundations of the hardware. We had to add a new network of dedicated independent computers to basically surround the perimeter of our cloud.
“These are computers you don’t find in other clouds. They form this impenetrable barrier. It not only protects the perimeter of the cloud, these barriers also surround each individual customer zone in our cloud. Threats cannot then spread from one customer to another.
“Then we use the latest AI machine learning technology to build autonomous robots that go out, search, and destroy threats. We’ve added lots and lots of more robots to protect every aspect of the cloud. It’s got to be a case of it being completely automated, completely autonomous.”