It’s not an Oracle OpenWorld without co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison taking to the stage, in an ever confident manner, trashing the competition and giving us some technical insights into the company’s development plans. And 2018 is no different and Ellison didn't disappoint.
This year, Ellison used his opening keynote to reveal some details about what he is calling ‘Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud Platform’, which he claims Oracle has re-architected from the ground up, most notably to introduce a range of autonomous features that better protect your enterprise data. This builds nicely off the back of Oracle’s recent autonomous - or self-driving- database announcement.
The full range of technical announcements are due later in the week, but Ellison’s keynote provides a nice taster for what’s to be expected for when we get the detailed announcements.
Ellison’s pitch today, as noted above, played into the fears of CIOs and data protection officers everywhere. The past 12 to 24 months has seen an escalation in the number of data breaches and sophisticated attacks, leaving enterprise buyers exposed. Security is front and centre of most buyers’ minds and Oracle is making a nice play to answer some of those questions.
I’d argue that putting security front and centre is smart, particularly with Ellison using highlighting the autonomation and AI/ML features. His message was essentially (and I’m paraphrasing quite a lot here) - ‘you have to fight fire with fire, your people won’t be able to compete with the malicious bots - you need an army of bots’.
Ellison began by saying:
Today I want to talk about the second generation of our cloud, featuring Star Wars cyber defences to protect our Generation 2 platform. We’ve had to re-architect it from the ground up. We’ve introduced Star Wars defences, impenetrable barriers, and autonomous robots. The combination of those things protect your data and protect our Generation 2 Cloud.
He went on to say that the current state of the art cloud defences “just aren’t good enough” and that the smartest technology companies are “routinely penetrated”. Ellison added:
If the smartest among us, the most security conscious among us, have been attacked successfully, this is a big problem.
As a result, Oracle has gone through a period of fundamentally re-architecting the platform and is introducing two key technologies that will protect customer data in the cloud.
- Impenetrable barriers
- Autonomous robots
I’m not talking about a few software changes here and a few software changes there. I’m talking about a completely new hardware configuration for the cloud. It starts with the foundations of the hardware. We had to add a new network of dedicated independent computers to basically surround the perimeter of our cloud. These are computers you don’t find in other clouds. They form this impenetrable barrier. It not only protects the perimeter of the cloud, these barriers also surround each individual customer zone in our cloud. Threats cannot then spread from one customer to another.
Then we use the latest AI machine learning technology to build autonomous robots that go out, search and destroy threats. We’ve added lots and lots of more robots to protect every aspect of the cloud. It’s got to be a case of it being completely automated, completely autonomous.
He couldn’t resist…
Anyone that has ever been to an Oracle OpenWorld, or has followed the company over the years, will know that Ellison loves to trash talk the competition during his keynote. It’s somewhat of a tradition. And this year, like last year, it was Amazon Web Services (AWS) that was directly in the firing line.
I didn’t count how many times Ellison mentioned Amazon during his keynote (as was suggested by one of my colleagues that I should), but what I do know is that for the last 20 minutes Ellison conducted a whole portion of his keynote to benchmarking a range of Oracle cloud and database services against AWS’.
And, if we are taking the results as fact, they’re pretty impressive and unsurprisingly favour Oracle. Just take a look at this slide:
Ellison said that Oracle is “three, to 80, to infinite [times faster], depending on what you’re doing”. And although the benchmarking exercise is somewhat theatrical, there were some impressive moments (particularly comparing how Oracle’s autonomous database patches itself in the cloud with zero downtime). Ellison’s aid:
You come to our cloud you get Exadata infrastructure, autonomous database, everything is automated, and you get really, really low cost. Guaranteed to be half the price of what Amazon charges you. More importantly, there’s no labour, there’s no human labour or error, there’s no downtime. Your developers are more productive. They get more projects to market. If you want all of those benefits, you’ve got to be willing to pay less.
They [AWS] don’t have self tuning, they have no autonomous features, it’s not available. They don’t have active data guard. They have no disaster recovery. They have no server failure recovery. They have no software failure recovery. They’ve got no automatic patching. They’ve got none of that. We automatically patch and the system keeps running. In that case, we are infinitely faster and infinitely cheaper.
The ins and outs of Oracle’s second generation cloud platform will be released in the coming days, but it’s always interesting to get Ellison’s take. I was pretty impressed with Ellison’s opening - particularly around the autonomous security message. Enterprise buyers are looking for vendors to tell them what to do here and provide them with solutions. And a robot driven environment that quashes threats for you will likely appeal.
That being said, Ellison lost me when he started on the Amazon rampage. I know Ellison needs to convince the install base that Oracle is a good alternative to AWS, but I feel like it’s better to convince them with a message that they don’t see from Amazon (e.g. the security one today), rather than to just keep yelling “we are cheaper and better!”. A personal preference, perhaps. Nonetheless, it was a strong pitch and I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds throughout the week.