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Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy discusses new cloud services at AWS re:Invent 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

Oracle has been the loudest of the legacy enterprise tech vendors when it comes to attacking the leader of the new guard over the past few years, and Amazon Web Services has definitely taken notice.

The Information reported Tuesday that AWS and Salesforce are working on ways to use open-source database technology to replace Oracle database software that has been running on both companies’ servers for a long time, ever since using Oracle was one of a limited series of options for building a web-scale cloud computing business at the turn of the last century. This isn’t all that surprising a development, given the animosity between the two cloud pioneers and Oracle and the trend toward open-source infrastructure projects in general, but Oracle investors worried about losing two cash cows sent the company’s stock down almost two percent on the report.

A few details in the story, however, reveal how Oracle’s brash style and history of notorious sales tactics lit a competitive fire under the database teams at AWS and Salesforce. RedShift was apparently named very deliberately as a nod to Oracle’ trademark red branding, and Salesforce is calling its effort to move onto a new database “Sayonara,” according to anonymous sources quoted by The Information.

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy showed off this cartoon tweaking Oracle CEO Larry Ellison during his keynote address at AWS re:Invent 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

AWS and Oracle spent a decent portion of 2017 exchanging pot shots at each other over database performance, cost, reliability, and really anything else they could think of to get under each other’s skin. Part of that is because databases are one of the last major battlegrounds in the conflict between using on-premises software versus cloud software; databases are just really, really hard to move to the cloud, especially if they’ve been around for a long time. This has bought Oracle some time in shifting its customers to its own flavor of cloud-based databases, but AWS executives said multiple times last year that they’re seeing a lot of incoming business from Oracle customers looking for a new path.

According to the report, AWS has been thinking about moving away from Oracle since at last December 2004, when a database-related outage took down Amazon.com for an extended period of time. That’s actually a good reminder of how difficult it can be to migrate legacy applications to cloud services; if it’s taken one of the most advanced tech infrastructure providers over a decade to do so (for its part, Salesforce hopes to complete its migration by 2023), you start to better understand why enterprise tech customers without that level of expertise choose to stay put.

Editor’s Note: Salesforce is a GeekWire sponsor.

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