Cloud Wars analyzes the biggest challenge for AWS in 2020
Cloud Wars analyzes the biggest challenge for AWS in 2020

Amazon Vs. Oracle: AWS’s #1 Challenge Is Larry Ellison’s Autonomous Database

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In a highly publicized cutover, Amazon recently completed a multi-year mission to migrate its massive consumer business from Oracle databases to AWS databases, complete with a snappy minute-long celebration video on YouTube.

As it shut off the final Oracle database for its consumer business, Amazon announced that it’s thrilled with all of the results from the long, challenging and complex migration, many of which it catalogs in a blog post commemorating the cutover.

And that’s all wonderful.

But the really big hurdle for Amazon to overcome wasn’t that internal cutover, impressive though it certainly is. 

Rather, Amazon’s #1 challenge for 2020 is whether it can convince lots and lots of AWS customers to sign up for similar journeys, particularly with Oracle now able to offer its revolutionary new Autonomous Database to those would-be migrants.

When Amazon decided several years ago to rip and replace its Oracle databases, there were no passionate Oracle zealots recommending new and better approaches from Oracle, or outlining how the new Autonomous Database could drive superior business outcomes. But when it comes to AWS salespeople pushing the rip-and-replace approach on business customers that have been running mission-critical apps on the Oracle Database for decades, it would be impossible to overstate what Oracle will be willing to do to keep those customers in the fold and on their way to the Autonomous Database.

Last month, I offered the below perspective on the Autonomous Database and Amazon’s desire to snatch some Oracle customers using older versions before they can try out the new self-driving database. (For more on that and other key competitive issues for 2020, please see Top 3 Tech Battles in 2020: Microsoft vs. Google, Salesforce vs. SAP, Amazon vs. Oracle.)

As great a success as AWS has been, if it thought it was tough to compete with the traditional Oracle Database, just wait until it has to outperform the Oracle Autonomous Database. You know, the one that Ellison says will be the company’s most-successful product ever. (See Hello, IBM and Microsoft: Larry Ellison’s Big Plans for Oracle Autonomous Database.) Hell’s bells, the autonomous achievement by Ellison and Oracle is so far-reaching that not even mighty Microsoft has chosen to try the autonomous thing. (At least not yet. See Microsoft Versus Oracle on Autonomous Databases: Microsoft’s Approach.) And you could make a very good argument that Microsoft’s experience with enterprise databases and related technologies is significantly deeper and broader than that of AWS.

For the AWS sales team, such conversations are vital and aspirational. For Oracle’s sales team and executives, those discussions are completely existential.

Because every single person at Oracle knows this: if Amazon is able to begin peeling off Oracle Database customers not only willing but eager to move to the broad AWS family of purpose-built databases, the damage to Oracle will be staggering.

After word of Amazon’s decision to move away from Oracle Database became public late in 2018, Oracle’s Larry Ellison used a company earnings call in December 2018 to portray Amazon’s move as not only isolated but irrational.

Because of Oracle’s huge technological advantage with modern databases, Ellison said, no “normal person” would attempt such a switch. Such a move, he said, would be “incredibly expensive and complicated” and would entail huge sacrifices in reliability, security and performance.

Clearly, Amazon believes the exact opposite, and the Amazon blog post about the big cutover referenced above offers considerable detail that sharply contradict Ellison’s claims.

And so for Amazon—the long-time #2 company in the Cloud Wars Top 10 behind #1 Microsoft—the big challenge for 2020 is to move beyond the highly subjective point-counterpoint with competitor Oracle and convince some business customers to do the rip-and-replace things as well.

If Amazon can do that, 2020 will be a phenomenal year.

If it can’t, it will not only see #1 Microsoft pull farther ahead in the cloud, but also breathe new life into a very formidable competitor in #5 Oracle.

Disclosure: at the time of this writing, Oracle was a client of Cloud Wars Media LLC.


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