Autonomous Database gives Oracle 10-year lead in cloud game     Follow

The Autonomous Database, the newest offering in Oracle’s product portfolio, is said to be showing tremendous growth in ASEAN and SAGE regions, according to the cloud company’s top management.
It is the industry’s first self-driving, self-securing, self-repairing database to gain deeper and more meaningful data insight, faster than ever before.
It uses groundbreaking machine learning and automation to deploy, optimise, patch and secure itself with no human intervention, bringing new levels of performance, security and efficiency.
To learn more about Oracle Autonomous Database Mirror Business conducted a brief interview with Steve Daheb, Senior Vice President for Oracle Cloud during the Oracle Open World held in Singapore, recently.
Steve is responsible for driving the global transformation and growth of key Oracle Cloud portfolio offerings including all PaaS and IaaS. His responsibilities include full go-to-market strategy and execution to achieve top-line growth of Oracle’s cloud business. Following are excerpts of the interview.

Are there products similar to Oracle Autonomous Database in the market at the moment?
Well, there is nothing like this in the market. Some analysts think that we have an eight to 10-year lead in this area. What the Oracle Autonomous Database is doing is not just taking machine learning and dropping it on open source data base code and saying it is self-driving. We have been building databases for 30 to 40 years and so there is optimisation that we do from version 10G automated memory management to what we do with 18C. So, there is the automation that you build for yourself and then you apply machine learning technology. There are some specific policy-based things we do there. It can on the fly actually test an optimisation in the background that is going to improve performance and then apply it. I mean it is just amazing what we are doing there.

Who is your key targeted market segment? Is it the start-ups that lack DBA skills?
I would say it’s horizontal. At the end of the day we are talking about an autonomous data warehouse. As you know, analytics is universal. So I could be in line of business where I could be the head of marketing, head of sales, head of HR or head of finance and I want to get deep analytics. I could be even the central IT that is creating data marts for the company. Further, I could be transacting in retail, manufacturing or healthcare, it doesn’t matter. So from that perspective it’s very horizontal.

The interesting thing is the autonomous database is good for people with DBA skill sets or without. Yes, if I don’t have DBA skill set I will have a marketing intern provisioning the database in two minutes. This is something that would take two months before. Let me order equipment, get it shipped in, stack it and so on. But then also, people who have been having DBAs for a long time, for them it’s like look, instead of spending my time managing, provisioning and tuning this, I can focus on the analysis, the reporting and higher value tasks. So, in that perspective it’s universal in terms of benefit.

Who are your biggest customers in terms of scale using the Autonomous Database?
We have announced many who are using our database. We have the likes of Hertz, QMP and CERN and in fact there is a host. We’ve definitely have a really broad range of customers. I was recently in Dubai and we had talks with many customers in the Emirates region. Then we were in London holding talks with Royal Bank of Scotland. There is Mitsubishi Electric and there are many other companies who are using this.

Are you mainly seeing your existing database customers moving to autonomous or customers of your competitors are also moving towards you?
It’s both, I mean we are seeing both lifting and shifting. It’s really interesting, I mean the certain capabilities we offer and there are certain performances we get. Specially in the likes of Oracle infrastructure. We can talk about how Cisco Tektroniks that actually got off of Amazon and moved to Oracle. We also can talk about a loyalty company like OceanX that moved off of Amazon and moved to Oracle.

How does Oracle Autonomous Database ensure higher reliability and security?
Well, we take a very comprehensive approach towards security. If you think about Oracle, security is in our DNA. The term Oracle was the code name of the first thing we were working with the CIA. But what’s interesting is there are multiple levels when it comes to security. We have users. There is no longer the four walls of the enterprise. Identifications is the new perimeter. Then we have applications, access controls, user access rights, data masking and so on. At the data layer we do everything encrypted. The autonomous database defaults everything encrypted. Underneath that we have infrastructures—the users, apps and data secure network infrastructure. You really do got to take a comprehensive security approach, because it’s not just network attacks, you got internal attacks, phishing attacks, people bringing in their own devices to work and may be have unsanctioned apps they downloaded and so on. Hence, we really need a comprehensive approach.

Where we have an advantage over other cloud providers is as I start moving some things to cloud but I have some things on-prem, securing a hybrid environment or heterogeneous hybrid environment with a multi-cloud environment, things can get pretty tricky. That is a big thing what we are focused on. We actually just did a study and 91 percent of the people we survey now say that cloud security is more secure than what they can do on their own. I think it’s true because may be years ago security was thought as an inhibitor to cloud. But now I think people get it that your data centre is more secure than I can do on my own.

What would be the cost saving is going to be for a customer to move into autonomous?
It will depend on if you talking about applications; it’s going to depend if you are talking about lifting and shifting apps to OCI and getting out in the data centre business. With respect to autonomous, we are seeing up to 80 percent saving in the admin costs. Those are real dollar you can put into towards innovation.

Do the users have the option to pay-as-they-go?
Yes, we have pay-as-they-go and we also have the Monthly Flex as well. We have multiple options. Our cloud currency is a little bit different. We have this thing called universal credit and what it allows you to do is, let’s say you buy 100 dollars worth of credit. It allows you on our cloud to use any service you like— meaning a lot of times people get into the cloud and think how much analytics do I need, how much infrastructure do I need, how much do I need to spend on database and so on. So we give them the freedom to explore and leverage all facets of the cloud. That is something creative we have done for a year or two now it has really gone 
well for us.

Already several big Sri Lankan companies are clients of Oracle. What has been the interest shown by Sri Lankan firms towards autonomous?
I’m familiar with some of the Sri Lankan companies. The core benefits of autonomous is it reduces costs with self-driving and risks with self-patching and being able to focus on innovation. So, I believe Sri Lankan companies can hugely benefit from this.

If Oracle is eight to 10 years ahead as mentioned, what is next?
We continue to integrate these emerging technologies to what we are doing. We look at how IoT, machine learning and blockchain can be integrated into the services we offer. For example, how we take machine learning and make security more automated, not just self patching, but identifying of threats. I think the other big focus for us is the integration of analytics. The great thing about Oracle is the pace of innovation, which is pretty amazing. I think we spent about US$6 billion in R&D. We have about 150,000 employees so it is really exciting to see what they come with next.

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