Larry Ellison pitches Oracle's Gen 2 Cloud as purpose-built for enterprise

At Oracle OpenWorld, the CTO appealed to customers with significant database workloads -- and those looking for an AWS alternative.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Oracle's cloud business is still a blip on the radar compared to the competition, but it's the only cloud provider offering security and automation features uniquely built for the enterprise, Oracle co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison argued Monday.

"Other clouds have been around for a long time, they were not really designed for the enterprise," Ellison said in his keynote address at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

Oracle is now selling its Generation 2 Cloud, which is available in the public cloud and will be available next year with Cloud@Customer, one of Oracle's most popular products. The most important part of the Gen 2 Cloud, Ellison said, is the autonomous database.

Taking aim at cloud giant Amazon Web Services, Ellison compared the autonomous database to the reported development of an AWS semi-autonomous database. He likened semi-autonomous databases to a semi-autonomous car.

"You get in, you drive and you die," he said. By comparison, he said, the Oracle database "really is self driving. No one's going to die."

Since Oracle turned to the cloud, Ellison has repeatedly employed dramatic anti-AWS rhetoric, arguing that Oracle is a better deal for the enterprise. Still, Oracle continues to trail AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud in the cloud market.

The next few years will be critical for cloud providers, according to projections from Gartner. The tech analyst firm recently predicted that 80 percent of enterprises will have shut down their traditional data centers by 2025 -- up from just 10 percent today. Oracle is betting that it can win customers with significant database workloads, as Kyle York, VP of product strategy for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, explained to ZDNet.

"The cloud natives have been embracing cloud for a decade," York said. "We haven't seen the enterprise move as quickly. They haven't found a cloud they believe they can fully trust."

Oracle first introduced its autonomous database at last year's OpenWorld, in conjunction with an automated cybersecurity system. Since then, the Silicon Valley giant has announced the general availability of the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud and has rolled out an autonomous transaction processing (ATP) service and an autonomous NoSQL database service.

On Monday, Ellison announced dedicated Oracle Exadata cloud infrastructure for the autonomous database. With this dedicated infrastructure, enterprise teams can deploy applications and development projects in a fully-dedicated "private cloud like environment," as Oracle describes it, on the Oracle Cloud.

Eary versions of the autonomous database were on a shared Exadata machine, Ellison explained, "to give the very lowest cost for our autonomous database users." That option is still available.

"However, if you're very security conscious and you don't want any other users in your Exadata machine, you want dedicated infrastructure, you want complete isolation, we will provide you in our public cloud 100 percent isolation," Ellison said.

Additionally, Ellison announced new integrated security services. First, a new Key Management Service (KMS) allows customers to control data encryption. "It's got a hardware security module that allows you to manage the entire lifecycle of your encryption keys," Ellison said. "We provide all the tools to help you do it in an efficient and secure way."

There's also a new Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) for monitoring and enforcing secure configurations. Lastly, Oracle is rolling out a Web Application Firewall (WAF) designed to protect against attacks on web traffic, as well as Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) protection.

According to York, Oracle is building its strategy around the premise that there are five pillars of cloud purpose-built for enterprise. First, it must protect existing investments.

"Every generation, we want to protect your investment in data and applications, and make it easy to lift that stuff up and take full advantage of the next generation," Ellison said Monday. "That's not what most clouds do, that's not what they were designed to do 10 years ago."

The second pillar is price performance, and Ellison used his keynote to demonstrate performance benchmarks. Compute is nearly 50 percent faster on Oracle than AWS, Ellison claimed, while Oracle is 5X faster in block storage and twice as fast when it comes to networking. As for price, Ellison said Amazon's compute is triple the price, while their block storage is 30X the price of Oracle's. He said that it costs 100X more to move your data out of AWS than it does to move it out of the Oracle Cloud.

"We believe you should be able to move data back and forth," he said. "Amazon... move data in, you're done."

He also slammed the way AWS handles mixed workloads, stressing that Oracle has one database to handle mixed workloads, while Amazon has Redshift for warehousing and Aurora for transaction processing. "Most workloads are mixed workloads. That's a problem at Amazon," Ellison said.

The remaining pillars for Oracle's cloud approach are meeting enterprise needs like compliance and certification requirements, the democratization of tooling and capabilities, and core-to-edge security.

"We've used a lot of the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies ... to protect the cloud infrastructure," Ellison said. "To find threats and kill them. Our robots versus their robots. You're not fighting with your hands tied behind your backs anymore."

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