Larry Ellison pokes AWS while unveiling intelligent database service at Oracle OpenWorld keynote

Oracle is far behind in the cloud and chairman Larry Ellison knows it, so he takes whatever opportunity he can to take a swipe at market leader AWS. Last night’s Oracle OpenWorld keynote was no exception. When Ellison introduced the company’s new autonomous database, he couldn’t resist going after his chief rival while he was at it.

The autonomous database actually does sound like pretty cool technology, and Ellison should have concentrated on that instead of taking several minutes to go after his competitor. The product, which should speak for itself, runs in a fully automated fashion. That means it’s self-tuning and self-provisioning. As Ellison put it after comparing the new tool to auto-pilot on his private plane (something I’m sure everyone can relate to), “There is no pilot error anymore because there is no pilot. All of the database administrations is fully automated,” he told the keynote audience.

What’s more, the database repairs itself, so if it becomes corrupted somehow, it can fix the error and move on. Because of this ability, Oracle claims guaranteed availability of 99.995 percent, which Ellison boldly stated was “less than 30 minutes of planned or unplanned downtime” per year.

He went on to slam contractual guarantees of 4 or 5 nines, saying they were false claims because they excluded things like software bugs, security patches or configuration changes. It’s unclear how Ellison could claim Oracle wouldn’t ever be subject to all of these things and more, like say a DDoS attack, a massive hurricane or lightning strike or simply human error (like the one that struck AWS last year).

Regardless, he took some time to slam Amazon RedShift, frankly because he has to. While the cloud computing market is complex, AWS is number one with a bullet. It controls more than 40 percent of the market by some estimations. Contrast that with number 2, Microsoft Azure which has in the 10 percent range. Everyone else falls back from there including Oracle.

Clearly the new autonomous database service, which has the unimaginative name 18c, is an attempt to play to Oracle’s strengths while fighting Amazon in the cloud. AWS might have a huge head start, and it may control a tremendous marketshare advantage, but Oracle knows databases and this is an area where it should excel in the cloud.

The announcement gave Ellison a chance to boast about his company, but the proof in this autonomous database will be in the tasting. It will be available some time before the end of this year, according to Oracle.