Oracle Closing in on AWS, Microsoft With Public Cloud Infrastructure

NEWS ANALYSIS: Oracle believes it can steadily catch up to Amazon Web Services by building a new generation bare-metal, hyperscale cloud infrastructure.

Oracle Cloud Rebuild 2

SAN FRANCISCO—Oracle has been accused of being late to the party when it comes to cloud computing—almost 10 years too late—but now the company is moving like Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt rounding the turn in the 200-meter sprint.

The Silicon Valley stalwart and its irrepressible Executive Chairman Larry Ellison are as confident and brash about their cloud strategy as the perennial gold-winning Jamaican runner crossing the finish line with another victory.

In keynotes here at the Oracle World conference this week, Ellison called out cloud competitor Amazon Web Services on several counts by virtually announcing the end of AWS' reign at the top of the cloud infrastructure services market.

"Amazon's lead is over," he said, and followed that up with attacks on AWS' database services. AWS is "20 years behind" Oracle on several fundamental database functions, Ellison said, as he asserted that Oracle's database performance soundly beats AWS' Redshift and Aurora databases in benchmark tests. Ellison noted that the Oracle Cloud Database will run in any cloud, while AWS' databases are locked into the AWS infrastructure.

Over the years Ellison has made bold statements and predictions, famously mocking cloud computing eight years ago. But this week's claims are not lip service: Oracle is as focused and as deadly serious as they have ever been.

"Have no doubt that Oracle is in this with a mission and a purpose," said Don Johnson, an ex-Amazon Web Services executive and now Oracle vice president of engineering in charge of building out the company’s new bare metal cloud service. "We have a forward-leaning, innovative approach to doing this. We have the know-how, the skill set, and we're coming in fast, weapons hot. So pay attention."

Johnson is among more than 400 engineers Oracle has hired away from AWS, Microsoft Azure, the Google Cloud Platform and other vendors during the past two years to lead the effort to build the second-generation public cloud, a term that reflects Oracle's contention AWS is based on "first-generation" cloud technologies.

Building on a Clean Slate

If Amazon Web Services had the classic first-move advantage in public cloud computing by essentially inventing the cloud infrastructure services market, then Oracle has the second-mover advantage.

It is seeking to improve the fundamental infrastructure design, network virtualization and management to improve performance, security and scalability, said Deepak Patil Oracle's vice president of development. Patil said he joined Oracle earlier this year after leading the development of Azure because of the irresistible allure of having "done all of this for the past decade and wanting to try it again with a clean slate."

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...