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October 2, 2017

OpenWorld: Larry Ellison takes the cloud war to AWS

Ellison opens Oracle OpenWorld with a series of jabs at rival AWS.

By Ellie Burns

One thing Larry Ellison has never been is shy in his deprecation of rivals, with the Oracle CTO and Executive Chairman being none too subtle about highlighting the failings of competitor AWS in his opening keynote at OpenWorld.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that Ellison has AWS firmly in his crosshairs – the rival has the lions share of the market and boasts big name customers and billions in growth. Everything Ellison wants.

Ellison, however, has an ace up his sleeve – an ace which Ellison himself called ‘revolutionary’. First revealed in September, Oracle’s Autonomous Database Cloud is pitched at being the world’s first 100% self-driving autonomous database. With machine learning underpinning the ‘total automation’, Ellison also introduced new cyber defence applications that detect and remediate attacks in real-time. However, throughout the keynote there were none too subtle jabs at AWS – some of the best were:

“Amazon is five to eight times more expensive running the identical workload than the Oracle Autonomous Database.”


“We guarantee you contractually to cut your Amazon bill in half. It’s fairly easy when you’re five to eight times faster. We feel pretty comfortable.”


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“It’s not unusual for our competitors to use our technology. Amazon knows this. They are one of the biggest Oracle users on the planet Earth. SAP is one of the biggest users of Oracle on Earth.”


“These are not Oracle went out and made up the most ridiculous demos to make Amazon look bad they could come up with. These are datasets that we actually used for stress testing, and performance testing, and validating our database.”

Ellison spoke at length at how the Autonomous Database Cloud takes away the human element of managing a database, with the machine learning-based automation enabling a database to automatically upgrade, patch and tune itself while running. This should eliminate human error, meaning planned and unplanned downtime can be slashed to less than 30 minutes a year. This slashing of costs underpins one of Ellisons most bold promises, to halve an organisation’s Amazon bill. Not only will Oracle halve your costs, but this promise will be written into your contract without Oracle even seeing your workload.

Ellison thinks that Oracle cannot only beat AWS on price, but also on performance. Oracle thinks they have the edge on performance thanks to the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud being built on the company’s high-performance Exadata platform, with performance further enhanced thanks to fully-integrated machine learning algorithms. These algorithms drive automatic caching, adaptive indexing and advanced compression. The Autonomous Data Warehouse also boasts instant elasticity, allowing the allocation of new data warehouses of any size in seconds and scales compute and storage resources independently of one another with no downtime.

Larry Ellison, CTO, Oracle, revealed the new cloud services at OpenWorld.

Of course Ellison is not a man of all talk no action, with the CTO showing just how slow and expensive AWS are in a series of demos which highlighted the performance gap between Oracle Database on Oracle Cloud and Oracle Database running on Amazon’s RDS. The result of each demo was the same – Oracle was faster and cheaper each time.

The direct comparison also highlighted the difference between Amazon’s 99.95 percent reliability and availability SLAs, which exclude most sources of unplanned and planned downtime, and Oracle’s 99.995 percent SLA guarantees.

Surprise announcements which are usually part of the CTO’s keynote repertoire were absent this year, with Ellison choosing to speak at length about the autonomous database – something which he obviously thinks is a game changer in the turbulent cloud wars.

“Every organization is trying to leverage the overwhelming amount of data generated in our digital economy,” said Carl Olofson, research vice president, IDC.

How Oracle plans to beat AWS without as many data centres

“With a history of established leadership in the database software market segment, it is no surprise that Oracle is pioneering a next-generation data management platform. Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud is designed to deliver industry-leading database technology performance with unmatched flexibility, enterprise scale and simplicity. The intent is to ensure that businesses get more value from their data and modernize how data is managed.”

However, AWS re:Invent is just around the corner – we will have to wait and see what they hit back with.

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