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Oracle chairman and CTO Larry Ellison takes on Amazon Web Services at OpenWorld in San Francisco
Oracle chairman and CTO Larry Ellison takes on Amazon Web Services at OpenWorld in San Francisco

Oracle chairman and CTO Larry Ellison unleashed a flurry of punches against Amazon Web Services this afternoon at the OpenWorld users’ conference, making it clear Oracle will compete with AWS for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) clients on the bases of performance and portability as well as cost. His hour-long demo was the right cross following yesterday’s left jab, when he declared that Amazon’s “lead is over.”

“Our Generation 2 of IaaS leapfrogs Amazon in a lot of ways,” the famously outspoken (and once cloud-skeptical) Ellison said today. “Certainly in cost, and certainly in performance, but also in reliability and security. In those four areas, our IaaS is demonstrably superior.”

He drilled down into performance, citing internal benchmarking of Oracle running on its own cloud versus AWS’s analytics database Redshift running on AWS.

“Oracle running on its own cloud is more than 100 times faster than Redshift on AWS for basic analytic queries,” Ellison said. “AWS more than 100 times slower? That’s not possible. That’s ridiculous. But I’m being nothing but fair. You can count on that. If someone says this isn’t true, if you want to refute them, take it one at a time and refute them. All true. Quite amazing.”

He also bashed AWS’s performance running an Oracle database, saying it ran 24 times more slowly than on Oracle’s own cloud. “That’s a huge cost difference when you’re paying by the hour,” he said.

Ellison then took on Amazon’s physical infrastructure, saying each Oracle region uses a fiber-optic ring and low-latency network to connect its three data centers in a way that’s “very, very different from AWS.”  Oracle offers cloud services in numerous countries, but its site leaves unclear how many regions it maintains.

And Ellison trashed AWS’s openness, saying Amazon “is more closed than an IBM mainframe. Redshift runs only on Amazon. Once you move into AWS, you cannot move out. If they raise prices, get out your checkbook.”

After all that, he pretended to lament, “OK, there must be something good here. Lower cost! Used to be, used to be. But not anymore. If you’re willing to pay 20 percent less (for Oracle), you’ll get 11.5 times the performance.”

AWS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the moment, Oracle barely figures into Gartner, Forrester and other analysts’ assessments of the IaaS market. By far the largest chunk of its revenue (68 percent) last quarter was still coming from its on-premises software. AWS strongly leads the IaaS field, followed by Azure. Oracle lacked the market share to even figure into Gartner’s most recent IaaS magic quadrant analysis.

Earlier in the day, Oracle introduced a version of MySQL, a popular open-source database, that runs on its Oracle Cloud Platform, and announced upgrades to the Java programming language that it superintends.

Offering MySQL as a service, along with associated development tools, will let developers build new data-based applications more easily, Oracle said in a release. The forthcoming Java Platform, Standard Edition 9, will reflect the results of Project Jigsaw, a two-year-old undertaking intended to make Java Standard Edition more scalable down to small devices and to improve its security. Java Enterprise Edition’s future versions will ease building large-scale distributed systems and will support authentication including OAuth and OpenID Connect.

In addition to the MySQL service, Oracle is introducing the Oracle NoSQL and Exadata Express services. NoSQL is a key-value database supporting JSON, Java, Node.js and Python developers for transactional and big-data applications. The Exadata Express service promises fully managed access to Oracle’s combined compute and storage system.

Another new offering, Project Visual Code, a development environment for non-coders to enhance or even create Oracle Cloud applications. Components for designing user interfaces can be drawn from the Oracle Cloud Marketplace. Minimal coding is required, with many operations possible simply through drag-and-drop.

Sun Microsystems created Java. Oracle bought Sun in 2010 and thus became the owner of Java, though it is an open-source development language.

Update: Though Oracle says it intends to compete with AWS, Azure and other cloud providers in the IaaS arena, it has not widely shared one key aspect of such an offering: the geographic distribution of its data centers. Ellison in his talk blew past one slide showing the number and location of those data centers, and we just got a copy. Oracle has established 18 data centers:

  • Seven in the U.S. (west, central, east, government, Department of Defense, one for data related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and one for the payment-card industry)
  • Three in the U.K. (north, south and government)
  • Two in Australia and New Zealand
  • Two in Japan
  • One each in Brazil, Canada, China, the E.U., Germany, the Middle East and Singapore
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