Oracle OpenWorld 2017 Keynote—Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison Introduces ‘A Big Deal’:
The Oracle Autonomous Database

Oracle Database18c will automatically patch, tune, and upgrade itself without manual intervention, minimizing the possibility for human error and malicious behavior.

By Rob Preston



Oracle CTO Larry Ellison introduces the world's first self-driving autonomous database.

SAN FRANCISCO—Larry Ellison has seen the future of information technology—and it’s autonomous, adaptive, self-managing systems that are more secure than ever.

And that future is now, Oracle’s executive chairman and CTO revealed during his opening keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld. It’s in the form of Oracle Database 18c, which he described as the world’s first 100 percent “self-driving” autonomous database, an even-more reliable, lower-cost next generation of the company’s flagship database.

Oracle Database 18c’s self-patching and self-tuning capabilities, powered by machine learning (a “technology that’s every bit as revolutionary as the internet,” Ellison said), will minimize human intervention and virtually eliminate human error, helping reduce security risks while freeing database managers to focus on higher-level work.

Oracle SLAs will guarantee customers 99.995% availability, holding average planned and unplanned downtime to less than 2.5 minutes per month.

“This is a big deal, by the way. No one else does this,” Ellison said, adding: “This is the most important thing we’ve done in a long, long time.”

Just as autonomous vehicles, robots, drones, and other ML-based smart machines will transform the transportation, manufacturing, package delivery, and other industries, so too will ML technology fundamentally change IT security and management, he said. ML algorithms will, for instance, help companies improve their information security by analyzing reams of logged data and flagging outliers and anomalous patterns before intruders can do damage. Ellison offered the example of a California-based retailer being able to proactively block someone posing as the CFO from logging into its finance systems from a computer in Ukraine.

In the case of the self-driving Oracle Database 18c, ML algorithms will automatically and continuously patch, tune, back up, and upgrade the system without manual intervention, all while the system is running. That construct minimizes the possibility for human error and malicious behavior.

“It's our computers versus their computers in cyber warfare,” Ellison said, noting that the recent Equifax breach, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, appeared to be largely the result of human error—a failure to patch key network systems. “And we have to have a lot better computer systems, a lot more automation, if we're going to defend our data.”

True Guarantee

The autonomous Oracle Database18c also will require no downtime window for provisioning, backup, patching, updating, and other maintenance. As such, Oracle service-level agreements will guarantee customers 99.995% availability, holding planned and unplanned downtime to an average of less than 2.5 minutes per month, or 30 minutes per year, Ellison said.

Larry Ellison

Oracle's autonomous database will operate faster and require less labor support than comparable offerings from AWS, says CTO Larry Ellison.

A range of Oracle competitors, Amazon Web Services principal among them, also claim 99%-plus uptime for their cloud database services—but with a catch, he noted.

“They specifically exclude unplanned downtime due to maintenance, unplanned downtime due to software bugs, unplanned downtime due to configuration changes, unplanned downtime or planned downtime, for that matter, due to security patches,” Ellison said. “They just exclude all of that. They basically exclude all reasons you have downtime, and then say, ‘We're never down.’”

Oracle Database 18c will be “elastic,” meaning it can instantly expand or shrink computing and storage resources. And because the database will operate faster (consuming less compute and storage) and require less labor support than comparable offerings from AWS, Oracle will guarantee at least 50 percent cost savings to customers who move their Oracle or AWS databases from the AWS cloud to Oracle’s cloud, he said.

Higher Performance, Smaller Bill

Ellison walked Oracle OpenWorld attendees through six real-world workload comparisons that demonstrate the superior price/performance of Oracle’s autonomous database in Oracle Cloud versus Oracle Database in the AWS cloud and AWS’s own Redshift database in the AWS cloud.

The upshot: The Oracle-only solution requires no administration, making it easy to define tables and load data while providing automatic compression, caching, and indexing. In contrast, the AWS solution requires substantial administration and tuning, adding considerable labor and supporting technology costs, Ellison said.

Rather than marginalizing database admins, Ellison emphasized, Oracle Database 18c will free them from routine manual tasks.

“AWS is, you hire a lot of people to install the system and provision the system, and you have to tune the database, unload and reload the database,” Ellison said. “That requires a lot of expertise and a lot of administration, [and it’s] very expensive in terms of labor, and subject to human error and a very big bill from Amazon compared to a much smaller bill from Oracle.”

Oracle initially plans to release two cloud versions of Oracle Database 18c. A version for data warehouse and analytics workloads, called Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, is due out later this year. It plans to deliver two times faster in-memory column store and about 100 times faster query processing and in-memory analytics for external data. An online transaction processing version, called Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud, is due for release in the summer of 2018. It promises four times faster in-memory OLTP access.

As with all Oracle cloud offerings, the company will deliver all versions of its next-gen database either in its public cloud or behind customers’ firewalls under its Cloud at Customer program. And Oracle plans other autonomous services, including Autonomous Express Database Cloud Service and Autonomous NoSQL Database Cloud Service.

Higher-Level Skills

Rather than marginalizing database administrators and managers, Ellison emphasized, Oracle Database 18c’s self-managing capabilities will free them from routine manual tasks and elevate their roles.

“You'll see a migration, an evolution of database skills, where you're focused more on database design, schema design, different kinds of data analytics including machine learning, setting the policies as to what is mission critical, what requires disaster recovery, figuring out those policies,” Ellison said. “Authorization—who's allowed to see the data, who's not allowed to see the data, and when. All those kinds of things. And just a lot more…time securing your data because this problem is getting a lot worse.”

The technology solutions are about to get a lot better.


Safe Harbor
The preceding is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, timing and price of any features or functionality described for Oracle's products may change and remains at the sole discretion of Oracle Corporation. Fees apply for new Database product offerings.

Statements in this article relating to Oracle’s future plans, expectations, beliefs, and intentions are “forward-looking statements” and are subject to material risks and uncertainties. Such statements are based on Oracle’s current expectations and assumptions, some of which are beyond Oracle’s control. All information in this article is current as of October 2, 2017 and Oracle undertakes no duty to update any statement in light of new information or future events.