Leveraging his long-game vision and his company’s unmatched database-technology expertise, Oracle founder Larry Ellison said Oracle will beat Amazon in the cloud by releasing over the next few months a sweeping set of “self-driving” cloud solutions that Ellison claims are simply beyond even Amazon’s ability to match.
Over the past few years, Ellison has on several occasions said that Amazon’s Achilles’ heel in the cloud will be its relative lack of experience in creating, deploying and supporting enterprise-database technology that’s at the heart of the PaaS layer of the cloud and is increasingly intertwined with the SaaS layer as well.
And at an event this week announcing Oracle’s extensive plans for not only the Autonomous Database but also a broad array of fully autonomous PaaS services, Ellison emphatically declared that this autonomous technology will become the breakthrough innovation that allows Oracle to overcome Amazon in the cloud.
Freely acknowledging Amazon’s early dominance in the hardware-centric public-cloud infrastructure space, Ellison said the new battlegrounds in the cloud will be centered on the software-based layers of PaaS and SaaS.
“Now, everyone knows and everyone gives rightful credit to Amazon for kind of inventing the market for infrastructure as a service—they noticed that, in a lot of ways, it’s more efficient to rent computers than to buy computers,” Ellison said at the launch event.
“Well, we all think infrastructure as a service is very valuable—Oracle has gone into that business,” said Ellison.
“But the way Oracle plans on and is in the process of differentiating itself from Amazon is to offer a complete suite of platform services that are at a higher level than low-level infrastructure stuff.”
So what is this “higher level” stuff that autonomous cloud services will provide? Ellison broke it out this way:
- Software that’s more secure, because it does not involve human labor, which leads to human error;
- Software that’s faster and more powerful, because it’s driven by machine learning that self-learns and adapts and enhances performance relentlessly;
- Software that’s less expensive, because the cost of human labor has been stripped out;
- Highly intelligent platform software that allows applications to be developed more quickly;
- Self-monitoring and self-aware software that simplifies the integration of applications and data;
- Mobility services that learn as they go and accelerate the development of mobile apps and integration; and
- Security services that offer greater protection against intrusion because of the underlying machine-learning technologies in the autonomous software.
In the course of his hour-long presentation, Ellison repeatedly hammered home the theme of enhanced cybersecurity, which has become a permanent board-level agenda item.
“If you process computer logs and you look at lots and lots of login data, and it turns out that your CFO is always logging in from Palo Alto where they live, or Redwood Shores where they work, or New York where they’re visiting and giving presentations, or London, but it was really strange when they logged in from a village in the Ukraine—that’s an anomalous piece of data,” Ellison said.
“And maybe we shouldn’t allow that login.
“So we can detect—and we can make our computer systems much more secure by having automated, intelligent detection of anomalies.”
And it will be through this type of advanced enterprise-software expertise, Ellison said, that Oracle will be able to deliver essential PaaS services at levels of performance and security and sophistication that Amazon cannot come close to matching.
This suite of new autonomous cloud-software solutions come at a time when businesses are expecting technology to do much more than help boost efficiency and cut costs. In their urgent transitions to becoming digital businesses, companies expect and demand modern enterprise IT to help drive new insights, liberate funding for growth initiatives, drive more-intimate engagement with customers and offer bullet-proof cybersecurity.
Via these powerful new software tools, Oracle hopes to position itself in the eyes of business leaders among the elite cloud players capable of delivering such levels of strategic value and differentiation.
To further highlight the competitive differentiation the autonomous database and autonomous cloud services will create, Ellison brought up another of his primary cloud competitors: Salesforce.com.
“So [Salesforce CEO] Marc Benioff just spent a lot of money for MuleSoft to get MuleSoft integration services. Good company, nothing wrong with it, but it’s kind of a last-generation company,” Ellison said.
“These are not autonomous services that MuleSoft offers. It’s kind of a conventional, old-fashioned way of plugging things together: things in the public cloud to things on-premises—they can do all that.”
But what they can not do, he said, is operate autonomously—and that difference is at the core of “how we plan to compete with Amazon,” Ellison said, noting how those autonomous services will span everything from cybersecurity to applications
development, mobile development, data management and the CIO’s longtime nemesis of integration.
“And this is all automated—completely automated,” Ellison said.
“This intrusion detection into your computer system must be automated, because if cyber criminals and cyber terrorists are using networks of computers—botnets—to attack our computers, and we think our human beings can form a defensive wall against these computer attacks, we are dreaming.”
Instead, Ellison said, “It has to be our computers versus their computers, or we have no chance.”
And putting these new self-driving services in context, Ellison said the Oracle Autonomous Database “is probably the most important thing we have ever done. And it’s very different from what other people are doing in the data management industry.”
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