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By | Gavin Clarke 16th March 2016 16:06

Oracle whistles happy tune as shadow of AWS bus parks on database lawn

Infamy, infamy, Amazon and Microsoft have all got it in for me!

Oracle is brushing off challenges from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft to its core database business as a natural consequence of leadership.

Rivals are pouncing to take advantage of the shift from on-prem licensing of software to the cloud, the firm reckoned.

“People are coming after us, because we are by far the market leader in database,” chief executive Mark Hurd said (log-in needed) on a conference call with financial analysts.

“If you are in the database business, it’s the only time when you can come after us. So, of course, Amazon, they’re going to be in the database business, too.

“We see our customers, literally millions of applications and millions of users of those applications built on top of the Oracle database, wanting to move those applications into the cloud.”

Hurd was fielding a question about the exact nature of threat to Oracle’s core business from Amazon and Microsoft while announcing results for its third quarter of fiscal '16.

The question was actually directed at Oracle’s chief technology officer and executive chairman Larry Ellison by one Wall St analyst, but Hurd deflected the shot.

Hurd spoke and Oracle announced its quarter on the day Amazon said its database migration service is open for wider use.

The AWS Database Migration Service doesn’t just target Oracle production databases, Amazon is also after Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, MariaDB and PostgreSQL, but Oracle is the most noteworthy given it owns half the RDBMS market.

AWS reckoned 1,000 databases had migrated to its data centres since January, including Thomas Publishing, Expedia Inc and Pegasystems.

Last week, on-prem RDBMS rival Microsoft said it was ending SQL Server’s Windows monogamy for love of Linux.

Also, Microsoft offered Oracle customers migrating to the up-coming SQL Server 2016 a free licenses - but mandated they must take or renew a Server Cloud Enrollment licensing plan that stipulates a minimum of 50 cores and Software Assurance.

During the quarterly call, Oracle boasted and bragged its way through a slew of numbers it claimed proved the firm is growing fastest on cloud.

The numbers, however, related to 'as-a-service' and the competition Oracle measured itself against was the CRM and HCM rivals Salesforce and Workday.

Amazon with its massive cloud infrastructure wasn’t name checked until questioned, a fact that proves just how far behind Oracle is in the race.

Also, the call highlighted what is shaping up as a major battle over data and platform.

A host of database startups in open source have come to market founded on the promise they could grow fat on the crumbs from Oracle’s table. They offered, according to RDBMS rivals, low price and flexibility but have remained small and have not troubled Oracle.

AWS, though, is of and order of magnitude bigger in terms of customers and growth compared to all of open-sourcers RDBMS upstarts who’ve come before.

And, AWS claims its fastest growing service is, yet again, a data driven service – the relational database engine launched in July 2015.

Oracle’s own database business, meanwhile, isn’t growing, quite the opposite – during the last three months, sales of new, on-prem software fell again, by 15 per cent to $1.6bn. Total on-prem software revenue was down four per cent to $6.3bn.

The key strategic importance of Oracle's database business is easily recognized by the company as the foundation from which its applications spring. It’s the total stack play Oracle has been pushing on prem for decades.

Chief executive Safra Catz acknowledged the risk to this game plan as AWS circles and Oracle rolls out its own database-as-a-service alternative as a Platform-as-a-Service.

“We would be thrilled if everyone of our Oracle database customers came over to our cloud instead of running it on-premise. That would be fabulous. Now do we expect many of them?”

Catz stalled.

“Many of them clearly are doing it. But we have such an enormous installed base that some of them will put new applications in the cloud, or different types and development in the cloud or a combination or a hybrid. But we would be delighted.” ®

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