Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is clearly not taking Amazon’s threat to steal its database customers lying down.
Oracle, the market leader in database software, plans a “completely automated” version of its database that will suck all the human labor and associated costs out of database setup and management, Ellison told analysts Thursday on the company’s latest quarterly earnings call.
As has been his custom over the past few years, Ellison, Oracle’s executive chairman and chief technology officer, used the call to pre-announce a product that will officially debut in a few weeks at the annual Oracle OpenWorld tech conference in San Francisco.
“The latest version of our database totally automates everything,” Ellison said. “You push a button to load your data and you’re done.” Amazon’s databases do not offer similar automation and require human administrators to configure and set up, he said.
He continued: “A self-driving database, like a self-driving car eliminates labor costs and the associated costs of human error. “Running the Oracle autonomous database is much cheaper than running human databases like Amazon (AMZN) Redshift,” he said, referring to one of Amazon’s database options.
And it’s not just about stopping defections to AWS for Ellison. He argued that customers who move away from Amazon RedShift can cut their costs in half by moving to Oracle (ORCL).
That is a strong statement coming from a company known for charging a premium not only for its software but also to support for that software. But Ellison has never shied away from a controversial comment.
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It is essential for Oracle (ORCL) to get customers that have long used its databases and business software on their internal servers to move to Oracle’s own data centers, rather than Amazon’s or Microsoft’s. All of these companies see customers wanting to offload at least some of their work to “cloud” data centers like AWS and Microsoft Azure so they don’t have to go the hassle of updating hardware, networks, and storage. The cloud providers take care of all that work.
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In reality, businesses can now run Oracle databases on AWS and Azure. They pay for their Oracle database licenses and run the software wherever they like. The threat to Oracle is that Amazon has rolled out database competitors that also run on AWS.
In July, Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, claimed that 30,000 businesses had moved their databases to Amazon. AWS has since raised that count to to 35,000 but does not specify what databases were used before.
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It’s noteworthy that Ellison spent so much time on the call talking about Amazon and not traditional database rivals like IBM (IBM), and Microsoft (MSFT). He, like those two other legacy tech companies, clearly sees the leading cloud provider as a threat to his core database business.
The quarter looked good. For the period ending August 31, 2017, Oracle said total cloud computing sales rose 51.4% to $1.47 billion from $969 million for the year-ago period.
Overall, profit was $2.21 billion, up nearly 21% from $1.83 billion a year ago, beating estimates. But Wall Street was apparently not impressed: The company’s shares fell 3.57% to $50.91 at one point in after-hours trading.