Oracle’s Autonomous Database Takes On AWS

With great fanfare, Amazon has announced they have finally brought its massive consumer business home after housing their systems on Oracle databases since 1994. AWS’s chief evangelist, Jeff Barr, celebrated Amazon pulling the plug on the last legacy database in an October blog post with a recounting of the many benefits coming the business’s way as a result of the move.

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While it’s an important milestone for the e-commerce company, the real challenge for 2020 will be convincing AWS clients to follow its lead and leave Oracle’s antiquated offerings behind. “Relational databases were a great technology in the 90s,” said Dave Treadwell, VP of Amazon’s eCommerce Foundation, of the cutover. “In that transition… we’ve gotten huge advances.”

As Oracle’s leaders, founder Larry Ellison and CEO Safra Catz have no intention of going gently into that good night. Despite Amazon’s attempts to relegate its rival to an obsolete chapter in IT history, they recently announced plans to roll out Oracle’s new Autonomous Database (AD) – a big, brash idea with billions of dollars in potential.

A first of its kind, this self-driving database will use machine learning to automate routine functions such as security, backups, and other tasks that usually require human intervention. Cloud Wars’ Bob Evans believes AD is more than an ambitious undertaking. It’s so beyond current thinking, not even software mega-corp Microsoft will dare to tread where Ellison has ensconced himself at the intersection of artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

While Amazon aspires to become the leading data management option for enterprise customers and already commands a strong lead in the cloud services market, database- dominator Oracle is not ready to give ground. The Autonomous Database technology offers customers aiming to become data-driven businesses a unique advantage that competitor AWS may not be able to match.

Timing might be everything for both AWS and Oracle in year 2020. If Amazon is able to attract enough enterprise customers still running older versions of Oracle – it could have serious implications for Larry Ellison’s tech empire. While Amazon would be fighting for the top cloud provider spot, Oracle could be struggling for its survival as an industry leader.

However, Oracle has been breaking from ‘business as usual’ recently, likely in an effort to upset AWS’s cloud-cart. Ellison and Catz struck a partnership with long-time rival Microsoft to work towards greater application interoperability between Azure and Oracle’s offerings. While MSFT’s CEO Satya Nadella is well-known for extending the hand of partnership to other organizations, Oracle has historically been more aloof with its Silicon Valley counterparts. The surprise agreement was solidified in mid-2019 and represents another threat to Amazon’s aspirations of total cloud control.

The next year could hold many outcomes for the two tech titans – one containing a brilliant AWS future full of purpose-built databases for every enterprise client in view. Another future could breathe new life into a fierce competitor that was shaping the software industry while Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was still huddled over homework in his Princeton dorm room.