Oracle CTO Larry Ellison Introduces Upgraded Database Platform-as-a-Service at OpenWorld 2014

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Users can now move databases to Oracle's cloud with a ‘single click of a button’

In his first major appearance since stepping down as CEO, Oracle CTO Larry Ellison took the stage at the Moscone Center to kick off the Oracle OpenWorld conference on Sunday evening. Confirming analysts’ predictions that 2014 would be the year of the cloud for Oracle, Ellison called the past 12 months an inflection point for the company.

“We’ve built a lot of technology for the cloud, and have gained a lot of momentum in the cloud business,” Ellison said, “but we took our time because it dawned on me that in order to deliver on the 30-year-old promise we made to our customers, we have to deliver on all three layers of cloud services: software as a service, platform as a service, and infrastructure as a service.”

Expansive group of SaaS applications

To that end, Ellison first touted Oracle’s expansive group of SaaS applications, including a fully integrated customer experience suite made up of a “leading” marketing cloud, a “growing” service cloud, and a sales cloud that’s “poised to soon outcompete” rival  

Fourth generation upward-compatible database

The night’s key announcement, however, was Oracle’s upgraded platform-as-a-service capability: a fourth generation upward-compatible database. “From the first generation of minicomputers and mainframe databases, to the second generation of PCs and servers, to the third generation of Internet architecture, and now to the fourth generation of database cloud service, we’ve honored our promise to preserve our customers’ technology investments through each new era of computing,” Ellison said.

The Oracle CTO also prefaced the company’s database cloud announcement with a retort to claims that Oracle has been slow to innovate in the cloud space and is being outperformed in SaaS.  “We are the only company on the planet that lets you develop on the same platform that we develop on… Since our SaaS is based on our PaaS, you can simply use the Oracle platform to extend your SaaS applications. No one else does this,” Ellison said, calling out both and SAP HANA for developing on Oracle’s platform.

And despite often being referred to as, in Ellison’s own words, a “dinosaur,” Oracle’s upgraded cloud platform announcement drew a big applause from the crowd at Moscone. With the new Oracle cloud platform, customers can now move databases into the cloud with “just one click of a button, without having to change a single line of code,” Ellison said. Data is also modernized during the transition, and can be moved back and forth between the on-premise solution and the cloud as needed, he explained. As data is transferred, it undergoes a 10 to one compression, becomes automatically encrypted, and is placed in columnar format for in-memory processing to return analytics “at the speed of thought,” according to Ellison. Access becomes 100 times faster, and adding mobile, social and other analytic features is significantly simpler as well.

The upgraded database platform-as-a-service has Java and WebLogic at its core, and has the same functions as Oracle’s comparable on-premise solution. The offering is also highly automated to facilitate backup, recovery, patching and upgrades as well as automatically provision data guarding and real application clusters (RAC). Other monitoring and management tools are available too, Ellison said.

Rounding out a series of updates and announcements pertaining to the first two layers of Oracle’s three-fold cloud mission, Ellison concluded his keynote address with a focus on the third and final layer: infrastructure-as-a-service.

“I have long held the belief that software and hardware have to be engineered together,” Ellison said, debuting a group of new machines starting with the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance. While traditional backup appliances “treat databases just like ordinary old files” and can lose data in between back-ups, the Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance preserves 100 percent of data. “It loses zero data—it’s in the name,” Ellison joked.

Oracle’s in-memory processing machine gets upgrade

Oracle’s in-memory processing machine got an upgrade as well. The Exalytics X4-4 In-Memory machine is now easier to use and runs 10 to 100 times faster on brand new software, according to Ellison. As for the hardware, it relies on the Intel Xeon E7-V2, which runs 50 percent faster, has 50 percent more processing cores, and is optimized for the Exalytics workload, Balaji Yelamanchili, senior vice president of analytics and performance management products at Oracle, demonstrated alongside Renee James, president of Intel.

Ellison wrapped up the evening presentation with more details on Oracle’s recently announced M7 chip, which includes software-on-silicon features that promise not only better performance, but also tighter security. On the performance side, the M7 processor uses dedicated acceleration engines to independently process streams of database column elements placed in the system memory, frees processor cores to run higher-level SQL functions, and reads data directly from memory to process it and place results in the cache for core usage, Ellison explained. It also decompresses at full in-memory database speed, a crucial feature for better performance, he added.

Added security in M7 chip

With regard to security, the M7 is “the most important piece of engineering that Oracle has done for many years,” Ellison said. The M7 offers hardware based memory protection that stops malicious programs from accessing other application memory. What makes the protection particularly powerful, he explained, is that it can always be on since the hardware approach has negligible performance impact. “This has never been done before,” he said.