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How Oracle runs warehouse management on Oracle Autonomous Database

Guest Author

By Diego Pantoja-Navajas, Vice President, Oracle WMS Cloud Development

Previously published on the Oracle@Oracle Blog.

In the spring of 2019, I decided that Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud (WMS) would move its architecture to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Oracle Autonomous Database. I didn’t know that COVID-19 was just around the corner. I’d made the decision to move because I knew that the best way to deal with a complex world fraught with uncertainty was to rely even more upon the flexible cloud technologies Oracle had set its many applications—and reputation—on.

I never could have guessed that a pandemic would strike, and that our customers would suddenly find themselves responding to a massive spike in online activity. But that’s exactly what happened, and because we had moved to the more powerful, smarter, and more elastic infrastructure, Oracle WMS (formerly known as LogFire) was able to help companies meet that increased demand with ease.

By embracing next-generation cloud architecture and a next-generation fully autonomous database, we thought we were getting our business ready for “tomorrow.” We never thought for a moment that “tomorrow” literally meant tomorrow, but it did. So when tomorrow came early, we—and our customers—were technologically equipped to handle a flood of web traffic.

Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud, born from LogFire

I founded LogFire in 2007 with the objective of transforming supply chains by helping enterprises adopt cloud technologies. In service of this vision, we created the first standalone SaaS application that integrated various systems and data to remove silos and make warehouse management more efficient. Several years ago, LogFire was integrated into Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud (WMS). Oracle WMS is the industry’s leading cloud-based warehouse management system, enabling businesses to automate various steps of the supply chain process through a connected fulfillment solution that offers real time visibility and scalability.

When we originally built our LogFire application, we ran our production databases out of PostgreSQL on Rackspace. Eventually, we moved our test databases to Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL to reduce costs, but we continued running production on Rackspace and outsourced its management, since we did not have an in-house DBA team. RDS simplified scaling, but there were performance and reliability concerns that made it unfit for our production databases. These challenges included:

  • Lack of performance guarantees
  • Manual tuning of many database parameters to maintain performance levels
  • Lack of automated bi-directional replication of database
  • Security gaps
  • Downtimes for patching and maintenance

Frankly, even with technology that was cutting edge at the time, we were still being held back. We couldn’t add new features quickly enough to meet customer demand. We spent a lot of time manually managing our database to ensure 24/7 availability. And, perhaps most significantly, we were hitting limitations due to our databases’ inability to scale up and down quickly in response to ever-present variables like seasonal peaks in demand and annual increases in shipping volume for retail customers.

That’s why, when Oracle Cloud Infrastructure was announced, we quickly recognized the opportunity for our business. In fact, LogFire was one of OCI’s earliest adopters. OCI offered precisely the support we were seeking when it came to flexibility, automation, and scalability.

                                    

The deployment success story

We completed our migration to OCI in February 2020—mere weeks before lockdown began. While the world held its breath, there was a brief dip in web traffic, but then everything exploded! Our usage rates dwarfed anything that we had experienced before. High season levels became the norm, and our infrastructure and database gave nothing so much as a hiccup as the scale grew and grew.

Fast forward to today: we have increased our order processing speeds by 55%. At the same time, we’ve doubled our customer base. (The pandemic turned out to be the inciting incident for companies that had been considering a move to the cloud.)

Our migration to OCI has already delivered many other benefits, too. For starters, we reduced our TCO through Autonomous Database autoscaling technology, going from ten external contractors managing the database down to zero—with the database itself automating all once-manual tasks. With the Autonomous Database, we can quickly build more features and customizations, which has already helped us to expand into ten new industries.

And, to continue the theme of always preparing for “tomorrow” (whenever it may arrive), we’ve equipped our customers with new levels of insights and intelligence to help them outpace change and streamline and grow their businesses. Oracle WMS Cloud provides in-database machine learning algorithms with Autonomous Transaction Processing. This encompasses more than 150 different AI/ML algorithms that optimize supply chain management by:

  • Predicting peak hours in distribution centers
  • Calculating average picking times and expected task time
  • Automatically initiating efficient replenishment tasks
  • Calculating expected profit from each order fulfilled (or average revenue generated per order)
  • Predicting future target values
  • Creating predictive pick orders based on historical data
  • Automatically assigning order fulfillment priority
  • Clustering employees who work well together to optimize efficiency
  • Executing warehouse slotting
  • Identifying worker inefficiencies

Want to hear the full story?

Join me for a webinar on May 18 at 1:00 PM ET. I'll share some deeper details on the benefits of OCI and the Autonomous Database and LogFire’s well-timed journey to both.

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