Larry Ellison takes aim at AWS, talks up Gen 2 Cloud capabilities

Maggie Holland

23 Oct, 2018

Oracle has gone to great lengths to shore up its cloud defenses so that customers can have greater confidence that their most prized asset – data – is truly secure.

So claims chairman and CTO Larry Ellison who used his opening keynote at the firm’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco today to update delegates on what it has done to ensure it’s cloud offering is fighting fit.

Using terminology more commonly found in Hollywood film scripts, Ellison talked about Star Wars-like defence that will not surrender to threats old, new and not-yet-discovered.

“Oracle has gone through a period of fundamentally re-architecting our cloud. It’s easy to say but very hard to do – to build a secure cloud. If it was easy to do, someone would have already done it!” Ellison said.

“[We have created] impenetrable barriers and autonomous robots that find those threats and kill them. It has to be robots. The way most people operate today is if a vulnerability is found in their database, apps or systems, human beings decide how to schedule a downtime window and patch it and, then,  find all the related systems and patch them too. It’s a bunch of people trying to defend your data against a robot or botnet attack. It’s your people against their robots. Who is faster? Who is going to win? It’s got to be automated.”

Oracle’s cloud makeover has been dubbed Gen 2 cloud and, according to Ellison, it is leaps and bounds over the current generation, which although good, has many downsides too. One of the main ones being the vulnerability of cloud control code that could be injected by one customer and spread like a virus onto other customers.

“With our Gen 2 cloud we have customer computers – we call them bare metal. But we will never put our cloud control code in the same computer that has customer code. That creates an incredible vulnerability to our cloud control system,” Ellison added.

“With Gen 2, threats can’t enter and threats can’t spread. It’s a big deal… I’m not talking about a few software changes here and there. We had to add a new network of dedicated independent computers to basically surround the perimeter of our cloud. These are computers you don’t find in other clouds. It not only keeps threats from getting in, these barriers also surround each individual customer zone in our cloud so spreads cannot spread from one customer area to another.

The firm’s second generation cloud has taken advantage of AI and machine learning to add sophisticated, robot-actioned defence levels. It features what Ellison termed ‘core-to-edge’ security and is based on 7 key tenets of threat detection, resolution and obliteration: Compliance, edge security, access security, an autonomous database, data security, network security, and isolation.

“We’ve been working on this for a very long time. We’ve been adding automation, adding automation, adding automation with every generation until we automated just about everything and then we became autonomous,” Ellison said.

“Automation is great because people typically build a data warehouse and tune it and later the tuning they did is obsolete. The Oracle autonomous database tunes itself and then retunes and retunes. The system constantly adapts to changing shapes of data and changing workloads.

“Because there is nothing to learn and nothing to do that makes it really easy to use. Here’s the manual and here’s the list to do. That’s it, training course over. If we eliminate human labour, we eliminate human error.”

Given the amount of effort that has gone into Gen 2, Ellison couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the completion. In this instance, the majority of his wrath was focused on Amazon.

Showing the audience a slide with all manner of AWS-bashing stats, Ellison said Oracle’s data warehouse was nine times faster and eight time cheaper than Amazon Redshift. Furthermore, he claimed Oracle’s autonomous transaction processing was 11 times faster and eight times cheaper than Amazon’s Aurora.

“We believe it should cost the same to move data in and out. Amazon’s pricing is very clear. Move data in, you’re done,” he quipped, adding that when it came to pricing the company guaranteed to cut customers’ bills from competitors in half.

“I read an article that said that white Oracle may have an autonomous database, Amazon is developing a semi-autonomous database. A semi-autonomous database is like driving a semi- autonomous car – You get in, you drive and you die!” Ellison added.