How Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Technologies, Data Centers Help NetSuite Customers

Ian McCue, Senior Content Marketing Manager

October 19, 2022

Since its inception, NetSuite has been a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering. But few give much thought to what that “service” element entails beyond basics like automatic upgrades, patches and vendor-managed servers.

Four members of NetSuite’s cloud operations team — responsible for ensuring system security, reliability and performance to customers — provided a deeper look at key infrastructure improvements they’re making behind the scenes. They highlighted a number of exciting new capabilities enabled by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) (opens in new tab)and showed how these innovations bring practical value to customers through additional automation and best-in-class security.

“We've taken some really major leaps in the past few years, many of which were powered by Oracle technologies, things that have accelerated us towards our goals and opened doors for us to innovate and do some things that we never could before,” said Nick Mooney, director of product management for NetSuite Cloud Operations.

Delivering Real Value Through AI and Machine Learning

A fundamental goal of NetSuite’s advanced technology group is ensuring applications of AI, including machine learning (ML), offer real value to customers, said vice president Edward Cheng. That goal led to the creation of the NetSuite Machine Learning Program, where participating customers share their needs and allow the team to securely use their actual data to better train and improve ML applications.

As an example of how OCI’s AI Services can help businesses running on NetSuite, Cheng pointed to a tool called “document vision.” It can extract numbers and text from documents to support new features like bill capture in NetSuite AP Automation.(opens in new tab) Document vision works across multiple languages and currencies.

AI Services can also assist with decision-making and forecasting by studying huge amounts of data to identify patterns. This could reveal everything from days of the week when sales tend to spike or fall to detecting cybersecurity threats before they cause losses. This technology is behind NetSuite intelligent recommendations, which uses order history to suggest related or complementary products to sales reps or directly to customers through SuiteCommerce.

Finally, language and speech capabilities allow users to search NetSuite for the information they need via voice. A search could bring up not just text-based results but visualizations that help answer questions. These results are further refined based on the activity of your users and current events that may be affecting your company.  

Other Oracle tools like AutoML, Oracle Analytics Cloud, and OCI Data Lakehouse help the cloud operations team and NetSuite customers identify and build new ML applications and provide human-level insights and recommendations. 

Infrastructure as Code’ Redefines Data Centers

A new model called Infrastructure as Code is behind a number of new under-the-hood capabilities that boost system reliability, performance and security. Vice President of Infrastructure Sean Fay described everything the cloud operations team builds as “machine-readable blueprints” that software then reads as features it can deploy to computers, networks, and storage. With this approach, the team can take the same approach to developing infrastructure that they would to developing software, with code reviews, version control, and testing. 

“This capability has transformed the way that we approach development and testing, and it lets us deliver change faster, and with higher quality than ever before,” Fay said.

Infrastructure as Code increases the speed and lowers the cost of opening new OCI data centers and expanding into new countries. This is because there is a repeatable and reusable model for building data centers based on APIs with greater uniformity. That improved efficiency is why more than half of NetSuite customers now run on OCI data centers and explains how NetSuite expanded from six data centers in its first 20 years to 20-plus locations in the last four years.

A greater number of smaller data centers means unexpected problems affect fewer customers, and uniformity means Fay’s team can release updates with confidence that they will work as expected. 

Smarter Security Protection Reduces Risk

The volume and complexity of cybersecurity threats is constantly growing, and it’s the job of Chris Blum’s team to make sure NetSuite is responding to them. Blum, a NetSuite co-founder and its Chief Security Officer, expounded on how the system can leverage OCI’s ML capabilities to detect and address threats faster with the help of automation.

“We're applying machine learning to shorten the identification between the moment at which an attacker begins to point their weapons at us and the moment that we see it,” Blum said. “We want to accelerate that cycle on identification, and we're looking to also accelerate the cycle on mitigation.”

Blum walked through two examples of how these technologies have already thwarted attacks. 

Just before Black Friday last year, NetSuite saw a new type of credential-stuffing attack, where the attacker put compromised login credentials into all available applications. With ML-based anomaly detection, Blum’s team consolidated all this traffic and built a smart filter to shut down the attack very quickly. 

ML also helped mitigate last year’s Log4J vulnerability,(opens in new tab) which led to attacks on tens of thousands of companies. Blum said his team quickly went into their systems, validated what needed to be changed, and executed the changes before Log4J could affect NetSuite customers.

As another security measure, all the systems that run these data centers have standardized security packages installed from the start. Additionally, cloud operations can “destroy” virtual machines and create new ones with the push of a button. That boosts reliability and mitigates threats like malicious code on a computer. 

“The fewer things that are different, the simpler it is to harden the one kind of thing that you've got,” he said. “You don't want a million kinds of computers running in each cluster, you want each one to be as identical as possible.”  

These and other behind-the-scenes security improvements ultimately help NetSuite developers adopt the latest technology sooner with less risk. 

Miss SuiteWorld sessions you hoped to watch? It’s not too late! You can watch this session, Unleashing the Power of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure,(opens in new tab) on YouTube. Replays of other NetSuite On Air sessions are available on NetSuite TV(opens in new tab) until Oct. 30.

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.