Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison Takes Aim at Amazon

By Jay Greene Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oracle Corp. often frames its product strategy around the biggest competitive threat it faces, and currently that rival is Amazon.com Inc.

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On Sunday night, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison once again took aim at Amazon, touting his company's newest database technology that he claimed his rival can't match. At Oracle OpenWorld -- the company's annual conference for developers, partners and customers in San Francisco -- Mr. Ellison ran through several demonstrations of Oracle Database 18c, saying customers would pay several times more using Amazon's technology.

"Why would anyone do that?" said Mr. Ellison, the executive chairman and chief technology officer of the Redwood City, Calif., company.

The reason Oracle's database costs less, Mr. Ellison said, is that 18c autonomously provisions only the computing resources as customers need them. When the new database technology is rolled out in December, Oracle will guarantee its bill will be less than half what Amazon would charge customers for a similar service.

Amazon disputed Mr. Ellison's claims, saying its customers can scale its database offerings to their specific needs. "This sounds like Larry being Larry. No facts, wild claims, and lots of bluster," an Amazon Web Services spokeswoman said.

The online retailer has upended the business software industry over the past decade with its pioneering cloud-computing offering, Amazon Web Services. The technology challenges legacy software vendors such as Oracle by offering customers the ability to run their computing operations in Amazon's data centers instead of spending money on servers and software.

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With 18c, Oracle said it would guarantee nearly 100% reliability and availability, or less than 30 minutes a year of downtime.

"This is the most important thing we have done in a long, long time," Mr. Ellison said.

The database is at the core of a new cybersecurity product Oracle will announce Tuesday, Mr. Ellison said. Using machine learning, the service built on the new database will automatically detect threats and immediate patch itself.

"We do everything we possibly can to avoid human intervention," Mr. Ellison said. "It's our computers versus their computers in cyberwarfare."

This isn't the first time Mr. Ellison targeted Amazon. At last year's OpenWorld conference, Mr. Ellison predicted "Amazon's lead is over" in the so-called infrastructure as a service market, in which tech companies provide web-based, on-demand computer power and storage for customers. At the time, Oracle introduced a new version of its cloud infrastructure service.

And yet, a year after proclaiming Amazon's dominance over, it isn't.

Amazon expanded its world-wide lead in infrastructure as a service business, holding 44.2% share of the market in 2016, up from 39.8% in 2015, market research firm Gartner Inc. said. Its nearest rival, Microsoft Corp., held a 7.1% share, up from 5.8% in 2015.

Oracle barely registers, garnering 0.3% share in 2016, up from 0.1% in 2015, Gartner analyst Sid Nag said. The company updated its technology last year, but Mr. Nag said, "It hasn't seen the market traction compared to the other market leaders."

Write to Jay Greene at Jay.Greene@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 02, 2017 00:14 ET (04:14 GMT)