Amazon and Oracle in database drama

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Amazon and Oracle in database drama ditched Oracle, then AWS kicked Larry in public.

Amazon Web Services has picked a fresh fight with Oracle over database scalability, with the stoush revealing plenty in terms of  Amazon's poor SaaS credentials.

The roots of of what has become a highly public spat lie in in Oracle’s long-term harassment of AWS.

The animus bloomed after Oracle’s out-of-the-blue decision in early 2017 to change its licensing legalese to double the cost of running its databases on AWS even though it knew doing so would hurt its own customers as much or more than it would hurt AWS.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison has also regularly claimed his own cloud is cheaper, more secure, more scalable and just better than AWS.

Some of the rhetorics has been a bit silly: Ellison has talked up Oracle’s dedicated security co-processors as if AWS had never turned its in-house security monitors into the GuardDuty product or introduced its own Nitro co-processor architecture.

A glance at the scoreboard tells you that Ellison has also been a little antediluvian: Gartner’s IaaS market share for 2018 has Oracle outside the top five vendors by revenue. The analyst firm’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Infrastructure-as-a-service has AWS out in front for both completeness of vision and ability to execute.

Then in October came a low blow: AWS internal documents revealed that moving from Oracle had caused thousands of delayed deliveries on Amazon’s “Prime Day”, it’s biggest sale of the year.

Perhaps because it knows it is doing well, AWS has mostly maintained a dignified silence in the face of those provocations – until last week when AWS CEO Andy Jassy popped out the following Tweet.

AWS CTO Werner Vogels then weighed in as follows:

A bout of pissy tweeting is notable from both men: they’re once-a-week Tweeters, and usually very on-message Tweeters at that, rather than “this was my lunch today” Tweeters.

Oracle probably thinks it has the better of the exchange: databases remain a vital piece of an enterprise’s foundations, but the company’s push to make them all-but-self-maintaining hastens their decline to a commodity. The company is also winning in ways that Amazon can’t match, by shepherding users of its applications from on-premises rigs into SaaS.

Oracle knows that applications are the stickiest incumbency of them all, so even as it talks up its IaaS it surely knows that won’t be its source of long-term cloud success.

AWS still has plenty of growth in it and will do just fine as a host for many-a-SaaS-company, plenty of which will build their wares on its databases. But AWS surely has other fights that will matter more than this: its hybrid cloud efforts remain slim, serverless is going to need lots of love, Azure is charging hard and the IBM/AWS tie-up will make for some interesting moments.

Perhaps this little spat is a sign that AWS has turned a corner. The company’s long been calm and scarcely acknowledged its competition. If nothing else, it’s now given iTnews a reason to watch it more closely!

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