Oracle preps autonomous database at OpenWorld, aims to cut labor, admin time

Oracle's move to offer an autonomous database is aimed directly at Amazon Web Services.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

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    Oracle will unveil a fully autonomous version of its database, offer it in the cloud, and aim to take most of the labor out of administration.

    CTO Larry Ellison said on Oracle's fiscal first quarter conference call that the company will deliver a next-gen database by the end of the year and it will be fully autonomous. Oracle will announce the database and more details Oct. 1 at its OpenWorld conference.

    Using machine learning, Oracle will automate management and tuning of the database.

    "We will be authoring public cloud SLAs, service level agreements, for the Oracle Database that guarantee 99.995 percent systems availability time; 99.995 percent availability means less than 30 minutes of planned or unplanned downtime per year," said Ellison. "To achieve that level of reliability, Oracle has to automatically tune, patch and upgrade itself while the system is running. AWS can't do any of this stuff."

    AWS is one of the main targets for Oracle's automated cloud database. AWS has targeted Oracle's core database business on many fronts with a series of databases such as Redshift. Oracle has been able to migrate its database and application customers to the cloud and acquire companies like NetSuite to fill in key gaps.


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    But Oracle's Ellison said the acquisitions are running out of steam for the company. Ellison even noted there wasn't another cloud company to really buy. As a result, Oracle's cloud growth is going to be about innovation. With that backdrop, the autonomous database is strategically important for Oracle. "The bulk of our technologies that will determine our success, things like our database and our Fusion applications suite, are all organically internally developed," Ellison said.

    Ellison said that the autonomous database will compete on cloud economics directly with AWS, but be a better deal based on labor savings.

    Ellison noted:

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of autonomous systems like self-driving cars and our new self-driving database are the economics that surround total automation. Self-driving cars eliminate the labor cost of driving plus the high cost associated with human driving errors. Self-driving database eliminates the labor cost of tuning, managing and upgrading the database, thus, avoiding all of the costly downtime associated with human error.

    Self-driving taxis are much cheaper to operate than taxis with human drivers. Running Oracle's autonomous database is much, much cheaper than running traditional human-driven databases like Amazon's Redshift. Customers moving from Amazon's Redshift to Oracle's autonomous databases can expect to cut their cost in half or more, and Oracle will be providing SLAs that guarantee those cost savings to customers that move.

    What will be interesting to watch is whether these automation moves by Oracle make database admins a bit obsolete. And if that labor goes away, it's possible that Oracle can cut prices to attempt and grab share. Ellison repeatedly noted that it take labor to set up AWS databases.

    Now the wild card will be how quickly other cloud providers automate.


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