Larry Ellison introducing Oracle's new autonomous database
Larry Ellison debuted Oracle's new 'autonomous database,' scooping the news set to debut at the company's Oracle Open World next month PHOTO: Kevin Twomey//Oracle

Forget the signature V-neck sweater, black turtleneck and trousers. Yesterday Oracle CTO Larry Ellison donned a new uniform of polo shirt, beat up blue jeans and running shoes to share a message with the masses. 

There was also a clicker involved, but we'll get to that later.

Anything Amazon Can Do, We Can Do Better

Just a day after Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced per-second pricing (vs. per hour) for its cloud computing products, Ellison stood before an audience of customers, journalists, Oracle employees and more than a few empty seats (how many people can you rally to Oracle’s Redwood City, Calif. headquarters on less than 24 hours’ notice?) to announce the company was going to “sell everything at the same price as Amazon.”

Not only that, but "everything" (meaning Oracle's Cloud) will also cost customers half as much because, "we (Oracle) are twice as fast as Amazon," said Ellison. And this is just at the Infrastructure-as-a Service (IaaS) layer.

According to Ellison, Oracle's Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is where the real benefits can be realized. 

An Early Debut for Oracle's 'Autonomous Database'

"The majority of the costs of running a database and middleware is labor," he said, noting that much of these costs can be eliminated through automation. Oracle's new autonomous PaaS is being referred to as an "Autonomous Database." 

It was supposed to be revealed at Oracle Open World (OOW) taking place Oct. 1 to Oct. 5 in San Francisco, but apparently Ellison couldn't wait to unveil it.

"The Oracle database is the world's first self-driving database ... It can't forget to install a security patch," he said. "How expensive could an error be," he asked, and then answered by saying, "I don't know ... if you don't patch the database at Equifax, that could be expensive."

In other words, eliminate the humans and you'll eliminate the errors according to Oracle.

So Long Errors, So Long Human Admins?

It will be interesting to see how IT administrators, many of whom are Ellison fan-boys, will react to that at OOW. Make no mistake, if Oracle's Autonomous Database works as promised, an autonomous embedded administrator will be taking their place. An administrator that can tune the database as it runs, apply patches without disruption and "will never miss a backup." 

If the subject of displaced workers comes up at the conference, Oracle admins will probably be told their roles will transition to areas where they can add more value. But we digress ....

Ellison also promised 99.9995 percent availability and no more than 30 minutes downtime per year.

"This is very different from what Amazon is 'trying' to do," said Ellison. "They are not even working on this. There is nothing close, even remotely close, in the cloud business," he said.

A Bid to Take Back Market Share

Analysts like R "Ray" Wang and Holger Mueller of Constellation Research told CMSWIre Oracle's decision to move in this direction was a "must."

"Oracle wants to take back market share and is not afraid to take on Microsoft and Amazon,” said Wang, noting it will need to build more data centers to deliver on the promised service level agreements, as well as inspire developers to build on its platform.

One of the other ways Oracle can take back market share is by making it more expensive to run Oracle on AWS than on Oracle's Cloud. The price for the Oracle license is (supposedly) the same on both clouds, but if Ellison is right, it will cost less on Oracle's IaaS because Oracle is faster. 

But that isn't all.

At the post-presentation press event Oracle was specifically asked whether it was raising licensing fees for Oracle-on-AWS customers — and there wasn't a denial.

Make a Cloud Offer They Can't Resist

The stronger pitch for Oracle is to win new, and keep existing customers with products and prices that are game changers for their businesses. And with 30 to 40 percent of on premises systems being either Oracle systems, or systems so closely connected to an Oracle systems, according to Mueller, if Oracle can make it easy and cost-worthy to run on Oracle’s Cloud, many enterprises may move their loads to the cloud in short order.

Mueller explained, "The reasons are — when a year of server refresh goes missing, most of on premises IT becomes very expensive. So expensive that the board and CEOs are asking how fast the rest can move ...."

About that clicker. This may have been Ellison's first time using one. As he held it in his hand, he hurriedly said "next slide," then "never mind, I can do this myself," then “next slide," only to put it down as everything went out of sequence.

Now there's a problem for AI to solve.