What's Behind Oracle's Gen 2 Cloud: Q&A with Oracle VP Kyle York

At Oracle OpenWorld, Oracle CTO Larry Ellison unveiled Cloud Computing – Generation 2 and put a sharp point on the security characteristics of the Oracle Gen 2 Cloud running the Oracle Autonomous Database. Recently, Kyle York, VP of product strategy on Oracle Gen 2 Cloud, reflected on Oracle’s priorities moving forward, including why the company feels the Oracle Autonomous Database is the most important advancement in database management in years and how the DBA role will evolve.

Why is Oracle calling the new technology “Gen 2”what is different from other cloud technology?

Kyle YorkKyle York: As with most new things, the first rev is not always built for the long-term success. First generation public cloud offerings were not architected to accommodate traditional application architectures. They were architected for net-new cloud native applications. Think websites, mobile apps, or ecommerce storefronts—certainly not financial systems, government workloads, or data-intensive applications. Many enterprise workloads simply cannot run in hypervisor-based environments, as they don’t provide the performance predictability and high availability often required by traditional enterprise applications. They also don’t play nice with the tooling and security infrastructure historically deployed on-premise, in a complex ecosystem cultivated over decades.

All of this has led to a split between traditional and cloud IT, which in a DevOps world is converging fast. Analysts estimate only 15%-30% of enterprise workloads have been successfully migrated to the cloud. Part of that is technical, part of that is cultural, but that number will grow rapidly in the coming years and Oracle is poised to deliver to customers with our next generation infrastructure.

Enabling complete enterprise adoption of the cloud and solving this complexity is exactly where Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is focused. We’ve purpose-built our cloud from the ground up to meet the requirements of large enterprises and complicated workloads. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is the only cloud that can replace the on-premise data center, enabling companies of any size to run even the most mission-critical, high-volume, high-performance applications and databases, but with all the immense benefits of public cloud.

How is Oracle’s architecture unique?

KY: Oracle offers the most flexibility in the public cloud, allowing companies to run traditional and cloud-native workloads on the same platform. This enables our customers to reduce operational overhead and costs and enable connectivity and shared data between these workloads. 

We do this by offering the broadest variety of deployment options from a single vendor—bare metal servers, virtual machines, containers, serverless, on-premise systems (both traditional on-premise systems and on-premise cloud via Cloud at Customer)—and network connectivity options to enable hybrid cloud deployments and management.  

What else sets it apart?

KY: We’ve also invested heavily in both proprietary innovations in our stack, but also by fully embracing open source, interoperable standards, and the OSS tool unifying Cloud Native Computing Foundation, all from day-one.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure implements off-box network virtualization, which takes network and IO virtualization out of the software stack and puts it in the network. This is often called a flat network architecture.

This is how Oracle Cloud Infrastructure combines the benefits of public cloud (on-demand, self-service, scalability) with those benefits usually associated with on-premise environments (predictability, performance, control) into a single offering. In other words, Oracle does not force businesses to give up the visibility and systems they have on-premise when choosing to move or build workloads on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Instead Oracle offers the ability to extend those practices into the cloud by providing compute, networking, and storage solutions that are programmatically accessible and fully controllable, just like on-premise systems.

How is this new?

This is new to Oracle customers and the market because it’s a breadth of offering never before delivered via a single control plane and APIs, marrying best-in-class hardware with all the management principles of on-demand public cloud. The timing is right and we’re playing to our strengths. When you embrace flexibility of choice for customers and deliver an environment with tremendous price/performance advantages, the future opportunity is uncapped, the enterprise CIO, CSO is grateful and the day-to-day developer feels empowered.

How are security threats different today than in years past? 

KY: In the past, enterprises ran all IT systems on premises and had tight control over supply chains, deployment and technical operations. But things have changed. Enterprises are moving IT operations to the cloud—a shared infrastructure—and security operations center (SOC) teams are struggling to keep up with the relentless deluge of cybersecurity threats. 

Within todays tightly-integrated technology ecosystem the complexity and velocity of new cyber threats is unprecedented. Malicious bots. Viruses. Ransomware. Targeted phishing.  BGP hijacks. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Data breaches. The list goes on. The cloud transformation is compounding the already huge challenges associated with the types of threat actors and attack vectors described above. And volatility isn’t always a result of bad actors. APIs can run haywire, coders fat finger, things break. We now must be far more vigilant.

How is Oracle Cloud Infrastructure dealing with these new challenges?

KY: Oracle Cloud Infrastructure views security from the core to edge, which is why security is a fundamental design principle within our cloud infrastructure as a service platform. Within our infrastructure, we isolate compute and network resources, helping ensure that no customer can see any other customer’s data or traffic.  Oracle Cloud Infrastructure isolates every customer’s traffic in a completely private Layer 3 software-defined overlay network, fully encapsulating traffic as soon as it enters the edge of our cloud, thereby helping ensure that no customer can see any other customer’s traffic.? 

In addition, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure allows customers to configure bare metal servers that are completely dedicated to them and isolated from all other tenants—they share no processor or memory space with any other tenant. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is also designed to allow customers to deploy their workloads on compute and storage hosts on which no Oracle software of any kind runs thereby providing an additional level of isolation from the cloud service provider itself. 

At Oracle, we’ve worked with enterprises for more than 40 years. We understand the importance of compliance and governance. This is why we offer enterprises integrated governance through a combination of Identity and Access Management, role-based access controls, and granular allocation and auditing capabilities so that enterprises are not forced to compromise their governance practices when moving to our cloud.  But some of the security threats I mentioned before are happening on the edge of the network, into the core of cloud management, which is why we strengthened our security portfolio at OpenWorld when we announced a web application firewall, DDoS protection, Cloud Access Security Broker and a key management service.

What other business challenges does Oracle Cloud Infrastructure address?

KY: In addition to security, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure addresses the following key business priorities as core pillars. First, Oracle Cloud supports all applications, old and new alike, which minimizes the need to update or redesign legacy software enabling customers to quickly benefit from the cloud. Second, Oracle’s cloud performs better and more predictably while costing less for mission-critical applications. Third, Oracle fully enables the tools, applications, support, and partners that enterprises rely on to migrate and operate in the cloud. And, finally, Oracle embraces interoperable standards and open source technology to make it easy to move workloads between the customer environment, Oracle’s cloud, and other clouds, as well as benefit from open source innovation.

How does Oracle Cloud Infrastructure address the continuing need for hybrid, on-premise and cloud deployments?

KY: As I mentioned earlier, the majority of enterprises have yet to move key applications and data to the cloud. They simply haven’t found a cloud they can trust with an ecosystem of tooling to ease the transition. Our purpose-built cloud will help these companies more easily move the most difficult workloads—mission critical databases and business applications— to the cloud. And, we will help regardless of where they are on this journey and help them continue to glean value from existing systems as well as new born-in-the-cloud systems.

Hybrid cloud is an attractive model for many, many customers and Oracle supports this integrated approach to computing. To further enable hybrid deployments, Oracle offers secure, dedicated connectivity between our cloud and on-premise data centers via our FastConnect networking service. We offer customers a predictable, consistent port-speed charge, allowing unlimited throughput gated only by the port speed chosen by the customer. The competition offers complicated, regionally focused, tiered pricing models that can often result in unpredictable and high fees.

For those wishing to connect to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure over the Internet, we offer VPN services, or of course you can use the public Internet, where Oracle’s Internet Intelligence tooling provides world leading capabilities and insights backed by over a decade of Internet performance data across Border Gateway Protocol, Domain Name System, Real-User Monitoring and more.

Lastly, we fully support modern tooling like Kubernetes, Terraform and Kafka and have a rich history of supporting open source, which only empowers the enterprise in this new cloud age. Our openness pillar and embrace of open source and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation makes this all possible and portable.

How is machine learning and artificial intelligence used in this new platform?

KY: We pride ourselves in being a leader in Autonomous Database. By weaving artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other cutting-edge technologies into our cloud database portfolio and our cloud infrastructure platform, as well as the SaaS applications that runs on these world-leading services, Oracle engineers are building a truly self-driving database environment running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. This is very attractive to corporate customers wary of dealing with the complexity and worry of keeping systems updated, patched, and secured.

We are also focused on the practical use of AI, machine learning, in its applications so customers can get business value from them quickly. Imagine—nefarious actors and bad bots getting blocked before they can ever do harm to your applications or infrastructure. Oracle is integrating these emerging technologies into its applications to keep customers and their data safe. Additionally, Oracle invests upwards of $6 billion a year in R&D to build, test, and deploy these technologies in a practical way for business customers. That scale of investment is tough to match.

How would customers of Oracle’s database benefit from using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure?

KY: Oracle has the world's most popular database by far, especially for mission-critical applications. We made it a priority that the Oracle Database and all Oracle Applications, in fact, run best on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

Anchoring our cloud platform around the industry-shaping Autonomous Database portfolio, which includes Autonomous Data Warehouse and Autonomous Transaction Processing technologies, gives Oracle a major advantage compared to other clouds in this critical segment. Oracle is building a complete stack—cloud-based infrastructure, databases, apps—with security and automation embedded throughout. We’re the only cloud provider who can deliver such a complete offering to our customers.

What does this mean for DBAs and their roles in organizations?

KY: The Oracle Autonomous Database is the most important advancement in database management in years. This next phase in automation not only removes labor costs but it also improves security by eliminating the potential for human error by automatically tuning, patching, and updating the key database system.

This means the role of the DBA will evolve. Instead of spending the majority of their time on maintenance, they can now focus on how to use the data to help drive faster innovation. We also see a real and near-term operational intersect and growth opportunity for the DBA and the DevOps practitioner to come together and become one in this next generation cloud era.