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Larry Ellison, co-founder and executive chairman of Oracle, speaks at Oracle OpenWorld 2017. (GeekWire Screenshot)

Given an hour in front of thousands of his company’s most important customers Sunday evening, Oracle co-founder and executive chairman Larry Ellison spent almost as much time talking about Amazon Web Services he did his own products.

Ellison used the opening keynote of Oracle OpenWorld 2017 to re-announce Oracle’s new autonomous database product, first mentioned during the company’s last earnings call. The Oracle 18c Autonomous Database will be available this December, and it’s designed to automate a lot of the painstaking maintenance work required to run a modern database while offering a 99.995 percent uptime guarantee, which works out to 30 minutes of downtime a year, he said.

“This is the most important thing we’ve done in a long time,” Ellison said. The new database uses machine learning to automate the human labor involved in database maintenance, like patching and tuning, he said.

But for all of Ellison’s comments on the new database, he spent a good chunk of his time attacking Redshift, Amazon’s data warehouse product, as inflexible, expensive, sneaky (if you “read the fine print”), and the wrong color. (I made one of those up.) He charged that the service-level agreement for AWS Redshift is full of loopholes regarding its uptime promise, but didn’t really get into the details.

Spending that much time ripping a competitor to open your biggest event of the year is quite telling, although Ellison has been performing a variation of this act for years. AWS has been touting its database prowess all year, and it’s very likely that most of the attendees listening to Ellison in downtown San Francisco have at least thought about moving their database workloads into AWS or another cloud provider.

And after touting all the supposed faults of RedShift and AWS in general, Ellison made his biggest appeal on price: Oracle plans to guarantee that it can cut your database costs in half compared to AWS when using its new database on either Oracle’s cloud services or on-premises.

Ellison also teased a new security product coming later in the week based on machine learning that when used in conjunction with its database, means that “the safest place for you to store your data is in an Oracle database.”

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