By Rob Preston *
Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison laid out his vision for the “world’s first truly autonomous cloud,” a vision that takes the concept behind trends such as self-driving cars and planes and applies it to cloud computing. The result is Oracle database, infrastructure, and other IT services that are more secure, reliable, flexible, and cost-efficient than competing cloud services.
During his opening keynote at Oracle OpenWorld on September 16, Ellison explained how the most important benefits from autonomous systems will come from eliminating human errors. In cars, eliminating such errors avoids accidents, he said. In technology, it eliminates common user errors that expose data to hackers.
Ellison focused on two pillars of the company’s autonomous cloud strategy: Oracle Autonomous Database and Generation 2 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Oracle Autonomous Database, for example, leverages machine learning algorithms to automatically and continuously patch, tune, back up, and upgrade itself without manual intervention, all while the system is running.
“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous systems are so fundamentally different from what came before, it marks a new generation in computer technology,” he said.
Thousands of companies, including TaylorMade, OutFront Media, JASCI Software, Drop Tank, Henry Ford Health Systems, and Data Integrity, are turning to Oracle Autonomous Database to not only improve their security, but also boost performance, cut operating costs, and ultimately free their people to focus on higher-level business priorities, Ellison said at Oracle OpenWorld.
Oracle expects to add more than 1,000 Autonomous Database customers this quarter alone, and that pace of adoption is accelerating, he said.
Oracle is now looking to make it easier—and free—for anyone to see for themselves what an autonomous cloud is all about. Ellison announced an Always Free program for companies, developers, students—and anyone else who wants to experiment with its cloud services. That program includes two autonomous databases, each with 20 gigabytes of storage; two compute virtual machines, each with 1 gigabyte of memory; as well as gigabytes of block, object, and archive storage.
For customers who want or need to manage their Oracle Autonomous Databases in their own data centers for regulatory or other reasons, Oracle plans to offer Gen 2 Exadata Cloud@Customer starting in mid-2020, Ellison announced. This new offering, which functions exactly like Oracle Database running in the public cloud, will be much easier to install and use than the company’s Generation 1 Cloud@Customer, he said. Oracle engineers will perform a free upgrade.
Security Is Job #1
As for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, on which Oracle Autonomous Database runs, the Generation 1 architecture was pay-per-use resource sharing—customers pay only for as much storage, compute, or network capacity as they consume. The main economic benefit of Oracle’s Gen 2 Cloud Infrastructure, Ellison noted, is its autonomous capability, which eliminates human labor for administrative tasks and thus reduces human error. That capability is particularly important in helping prevent data theft against increasingly sophisticated, automated hacks, he said during his keynote.
Ellison said the lack of autonomous capability in competing cloud databases is what may make data breaches more likely, potentially, exposing the data of millions of people to hackers. How so? Database administrators historically have been responsible for manually configuring databases and database servers and thus introduced human error, he said.
Competing service providers’ support policies are often very clear: As a customer, you maintain full control of your content and responsibility for configuring access to your subscribed services. “That’s on you,” Ellison said during his keynote. “In the Oracle Autonomous Cloud, when you use the Oracle Autonomous Database it configures itself. It’s not possible for customers to make configuration errors because there are no pilots to make errors.”
Autonomous OS for an Autonomous Database
An autonomous database should run on an autonomous operating system, Ellison reasoned, thus the company’s introduction of Oracle Autonomous Linux, available now.
In fact, Oracle, which offered the first commercial database on Linux back in 1998, is developing all of its products—database, applications, middleware—on Oracle Autonomous Linux, which is designed for the extreme performance, scalability, and security requirements of cloud computing, he said.
Like Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Autonomous Linux features automatic provisioning, scaling, tuning, patching, and updating, as well as automatic threat monitoring, exploit detection, and remediation functionality.
Companies can migrate their IBM Red Hat Linux applications almost instantly to Oracle Autonomous Linux, where they run unchanged, Ellison said. What’s more, Oracle Autonomous Linux is included free with Oracle Cloud services, letting IBM Red Hat customers cut their Linux support bills to zero, he said.
“When you use Oracle Autonomous Linux in the cloud, the price is just right: It’s free,” Ellison said. “So if you’re paying IBM, you can stop.”
One Database, Two Deployment Options
Turning back to Oracle Autonomous Database, Ellison noted that Oracle offers two deployment options: Shared (the simplest and lowest-cost option) and Dedicated (which provides customers with their own private cloud database, running on isolated Oracle Exadata servers).
Ellison also noted another major Oracle advantage over AWS: Oracle provides one converged database that’s able to handle all data types. In contrast, AWS offers as many as eight different specialized databases to handle different data types—each requiring separate teams with specialized skills, each with its own security model, and each with its own set of procedures for implementing high availability and elastic scalability, he said.
In addition to being costly to manage, AWS’s myriad database options limit application security, availability, and scalability to its weakest option, Ellison said.
“It’s counter to fundamental trends in the digital world,” he said. “Your smartphone now is a camera and a calendar and a messaging system…. We had the same idea at Oracle: a converged system.”
* Rob Preston is editorial director in Oracle’s Content Central organization.