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Why Oracle is putting OCI database services into Microsoft Azure data centers

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan September 14, 2023
Summary:
Barriers are breaking down in an AI-enabled world hungry for database services.

Ellison Nadella
(Microsoft/Oracle )

Oracle and Microsoft have announced Oracle Database@Azure, an offering to provide Oracle database services running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure [OCI] and deployed in Microsoft Azure data centers.

Azure becomes the only cloud platform other than Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to host Oracle services.  According to the official announcement:

Customers will have the choice to deploy their Azure services with their fully managed Oracle Database services all within a single datacenter, including support for Oracle Exadata Database services, Oracle Autonomous Database services, and Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC). Oracle and Microsoft have also developed a joint support model to provide rapid response and resolution for mission-critical workloads.

Customers can purchase Oracle Database@Azure through Azure Marketplace, using existing Azure agreements and/or existing Oracle Database license benefits, including Bring Your Own License and the Oracle Support Rewards program.

Benefits for customers are cited as:

  • More options to move their Oracle databases to the cloud.
  • The highest level of Oracle database performance, scale, and availability, as well as feature and pricing parity.
  • The simplicity, security, and latency of a single operating environment (datacenter) within Azure.
  • The ability to build new cloud native applications using OCI and Azure technologies, including Azure’s best-in-class AI services.
  • The assurance of an architecture that is tested and supported by two of the most trusted names in the cloud.

Why? 

It’s a big enough deal for Oracle CTO Larry Ellison to pop up to Redmond for the first time for a face-to-face launch announcement with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Ellison said:

A lot of our customers have moved partially to the cloud. I mean, everyone's very excited about the cloud and have been talking about it for a long time, but actually a majority of the data has not migrated from on premises into the cloud yet. But it will and we're trying to hasten that process, to make it easier for customers to actually move their entire data center workload to the cloud. That means moving all those Oracle databases, which are currently on premises into the cloud.

Ellison placed great emphasis on the idea of multi-cloud co-existence:

Some of this technology is Oracle's technology, some of the technology is Microsoft technology to allow you to seamlessly manage that infrastructure that's a multi-cloud, multi-provider infrastructure and to be able to do that in a convenient, secure, reliable way. That's what we're trying to accomplish with this partnership.

He added:

This began when we connected the Oracle Cloud to the Microsoft Cloud. We've got a high speed interconnect between the two, and we actually had about 500 customers who were very, very excited about this and used it and used it successfully. But they wanted the ability to go straight to the Azure portal and provision technology, whether it was Oracle technology or Microsoft technology. So they wanted us to make that a seamless connection. They didn't really want to see that that network when they were managing their infrastructure.

So we made the network invisible. We made it one seamless thing. You go to the Azure portal, you can provision an Oracle autonomous database, our very latest technology on an Exadata server, our very fastest technology. You can then marry that to OpenAI's AI technology or you can marry that to Teams or you can marry that to the incredible library of Microsoft technology. It's all now one multi-cloud system. The seamless integration is unprecedented.

Nadella added that this latest development builds on the two firms existing partnership. The vision for customers is straightforward, he said:

How can we use Oracle and Microsoft? A lot of enterprise applications have that [situation] - they have Oracle Database, they probably have some front end middleware even at Microsoft. So therefore, how do you move existing applications and build new applications?

The thing that I like a lot about what we're doing is we listened to customers. Customers said, 'We want this option in addition to everything that you're doing'. I think this will fundamentally accelerate the migration to the cloud, and get not only the movement to the cloud, but get [customers] to do new things.

And, of course, there’s an AI angle. Nadella said:

AI exists because of data. When you look at anything you do around AI, you need to have access to data. So to now have the Oracle database in Azure means we can take something like Azure OpenAI and take it to where the data is. So whether it is fine-tuning a model, pre -training a model or meta-prompting a model, it requires that low latency access to data. This is the moment where data and AI are coming together to transform businesses and business processes. There couldn't be a more profound timing…In order to use AI, you want to have data and that data is in an Oracle database. Now I have the best of both worlds in order to be able to sort of evolve my business process.

My take

This is a clever way for Oracle to take advantage of Azure’s scale without having to build out lots more data centers. It will also help with data residency concerns among customers by providing more data center locations. The two companies reckon that Oracle Database@Azure opens up 97% of Fortune 100 companies who use Oracle databases. Doubtless there will more detail to come next week at Oracle Cloud World in Las Vegas. 

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