Larry Ellison takes aim at AWS


Ellison’s Oracle Open World keynote was all about cloud and AWS.

When you are an 800-pound database gorilla, you need the same size giant to beat up as you claim a new territory. That’s exactly what Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle did at the annual Oracle Open World Summit.

During his keynote, Ellison built a case for Oracle public cloud. It’s a market that’s dominated by AWS, with Azure as second, Google Compute Engine as third and IBM public cloud as a distant fourth. Ellison probably knows that he is not going to beat AWS anytime soon, but he wants Oracle to be in the race.

Security, performance, and pricing of Oracle Cloud had been the key focus areas for Ellison and he beat up AWS on all three points.

“The current state of cloud defense is not good enough, not even close. The smartest tech companies are routinely penetrated, and their data was stolen,” said Ellison. He was probably referring to data breaches that happened at Facebook and Google. He talked about government agencies being vulnerable.

The sorry state of the tech world is that security is often not a priority or an afterthought when new technologies are introduced. But as Oracle is building its second generation cloud, which is called Gen 2 Cloud, they want security to be at the forefront.

Ellison said that to protect the generation 2 cloud, Oracle had to re-architect from the ground up and introduce Star Wars Defense – impenetrable barriers and autonomous robots. The combination of these two protects customer workload and also Oracle cloud.

“We’ve used a lot of the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies … to protect the cloud infrastructure,” he said. “To find threats and kill them. Our robots versus their robots. You’re not fighting with your hands tied behind your backs anymore.”

Ellison also talked about more isolation not only between tenants on the cloud but also isolation between the customer workload and Oracle Cloud Control.

He also criticized AWS of putting the cloud control on the same system that runs user workload, thus creating an opportunity for bad actors to compromise the AWS cloud control and cause havoc.

“We will never put our cloud control code on the same computer that has the customer. That creates an incredible vulnerability to our cloud control system, so we’ve added a completely separate network of dedicated cloud control computers that not only protect the perimeter of the cloud, it also protects threats from coming from the outside and getting into the cloud,” said Ellison.

Oracle cloud forms a perimeter around each individual customer zone so they can’t go into each other’s zones. According to Ellison, it also means customers can’t hack our cloud control computer because there’s no way to access it. “There is no access to our cloud control computer. They can’t look at the memory, they can’t add code, they can’t do anything. It’s an isolated network,” he said.

Oracle can’t see user data and users can’t see Oracle code. He added that Amazon can see your data.

“You don’t have to trust us,” said Ellison, adding, “No offense, but we don’t trust you.” The point was that Oracle can’t trust customers and put the same cloud control on the systems running user workload as it could be compromised. At the same time, customers should not blindly trust Oracle, either. Isolation is the key.

Though public cloud vendors like AWS may contest that accusation and we have not seen any case whatsoever where AWS was compromised, security is a tricky business and you sometimes have to play chess with bad actors.

Ellison also compared the performance and pricing of AWS with Oracle cloud and said when it comes to database technologies, “AWS is almost 10 years behind Oracle.”

AWS is all about pricing and performance. During his controversial keynote at the previous OpenStack Summit, Mark Shuttleworth took a jab at private cloud vendors and said people embrace AWS because it makes things affordable and cost-effective.

Ellison knows that very well and took a jab at AWS saying, people think AWS is cheap, but that’s not true. He showed many demos comparing pricing and performance of AWS with Oracle Gen 2 cloud. As expected, Oracle Gen 2 cloud beat AWS in his hand-picked use-cases, including patching a vulnerability where Oracle cloud kept running while patching the system whereas AWS went down.

He took a final jab at AWS and said, “Come to use with your AWS bill and we will offer half the price of what Amazon charges.”