Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison hyped his company's "self-driving" database service Tuesday, revealing it as the first component of a larger strategy to challenge Amazon's dominance in the cloud.
Ellison pitched the new Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, built on the Oracle Autonomous Database, as a service that "is probably the most important thing we've ever done."
The cloud database released last week will be the first of several autonomous services to come this year, all implementing machine learning to automate management and achieve unrivaled security and cost efficiencies, Ellison said during an event at the company's Redwood Shores, Calif. headquarters.
"This is how we plan to compete with Amazon," Ellison said.
Oracle's founder, known for his no-holds-barred attacks on competitors, gave AWS some due, saying the cloud leader deserves "rightful credit" for "inventing the market for Infrastructure-as-a-Service."
Oracle, however, looks to differentiate itself from other cloud providers by offering a complete suite of platform services that take advantage of the great strides made in recent years in machine learning—a technology that's as revolutionary as the internet.
"This technology changes everything, Ellison said.
The latest generation of artificial intelligence, combining neural networks with machine learning, finally realizes the long-awaited promise of the technology.
"We are doing things that hitherto have been considered unimaginable by computers," he said, citing as examples self-driving cars and computer facial recognition.
This summer, Oracle will deliver more cloud services automating management for different types of databases, application development, mobility, and integration.
The Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, which can run in Oracle's cloud or on-premises through the Cloud at Customer offering, delivers unprecedented security and availability, he said.
It runs Oracle's latest 18c database on Oracle Exadata purpose-built infrastructure combined with automated policy management features.
The system automatically patches itself when detecting an intrusion or security flaw.
"That vulnerability will be closed off without any scheduled downtime, without any human intervention," Ellison said.
It also can add storage or compute capacity on the fly.
"We're elastic, they're not," Ellison said, referring to AWS, which dubs its instances as Elastic Compute Cloud.
The automated functionality greatly reduces labor, the greatest expense when running a database, driving substantial savings.
It also prevents human mistakes, or problems caused by bad actors.
Getting "people out of the database administration business" reduces human error and malicious behavior, he said.
The technology allows Oracle to offer an SLA guaranteeing 99.995 percent uptime, which includes time spent upgrading, patching and tuning the system.
"Couple minutes a month we'll be down. There's nothing close," Ellison said.
Ellison guaranteed customers that migrate their databases from AWS to Oracle Cloud will see a cloud bill at least reduced by half—savings realized entirely by performance advantages, and not any significant difference in the cost of underlying resources.
Most customers will pay five times less on Oracle Cloud compared to Amazon, he said, because the database will run five times faster.
"We've tested it over and over again," he said. Third parties have been invited to do the same, with Oracle pledging to publish any results more favorable to its competitor.
In June, Oracle's other major database offering—the OLTP database—will be released as an autonomous cloud service.
Later in the summer will come Express and NoSQL autonomous databases, along with "a complete layer" of other autonomous services, pairing databases with analytics, data management and visualization tools.
Oracle will also introduce services for developing software, including mobile apps, faster and more securely than anything currently on the market, he said, as well as an automated integration platform.
"[Salesforce CEO] Marc Benioff just spent a lot of money for MuleSoft to get integration services," Ellison said.
While MuleSoft is a good company, "it's kind of a last-generation company," Ellison said, offering a "conventional, old-fashioned way of plugging things together."
Oracle's coming integration services will deploy machine learning for connecting modern cloud systems and on-premise environment, he said.