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Larry’s Soliloquy: Let Them Eat Cake, an Act in Three Parts

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Here are a few of my thoughts on Oracle’s “Autonomous Database” announcement.

First, allow me to begin by saying that I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

Automation has taken over every other aspect of the datacenter and the SDLC, but databases have been the last stronghold of resistance. It was only a matter of time before sights were set on taking out this last bastion. That being said, Larry’s announcement drew me back to the promise all of us children of the late 70’s-early 80’s were made when we were kids: Flying cars. Will they happen? Absolutely. But we’re still waiting. Indeed, smaller near term steps are definitely happening, and have already been achieved by competitors.

Next, I agree that Data > Gold
Cheap Infrastructure. Check. Seamless data migration? Check. All that’s left for you to do is use, and grow, your data. Why did Oracle focus on the autonomous database? Your first thought might be, because that is their core product and easiest place for them to focus. And while a part of that is true, I believe the impetus is elsewhere. Why not focus on Fusion or other complex Oracle software? Because, Oracle knows that where your data is, there your apps [and cash] are also. What is the hardest part of moving to the cloud? Data. What is the hardest part of leaving cloud? Data. Oracle knows that eliminating data friction is how businesses will thrive in this new economy. If they can make it effortless to propagate, grow, and manage data in their cloud; then you will do so. And with that grows all of the data-related services, such as ML, AI, App/Dev, Analytics, etc. But, while they focus on Operations, it is yet to be seen if they have any real answer for the other aspects of DataOps: Governance, Delivery, Transformation, and Version Control.

Finally, Let Them Eat Cake?
My Twitter feed is already aflame with visceral reactions to Larry’s announcement to autonomous database. It is easy to understand. Oracle has built a gazillion dollar (my non-gaap estimate) professional services industry consisting of hundreds of thousands of people all centered around managing, caring, and feeding a cumbersome, complicated piece of software. I am glad that Oracle is now focusing on automation, but Larry’s proclamation of the “death of database labor,” was alarming for the database “laborers” in the industry. In my mind, I could hear the universal cry of DBA’s everywhere: “But, what about us?” To me, it invoked the apocryphal story of Marie Antoinette who, when told that her subjects could not afford bread, thoughtlessly responded, “Let them eat cake.” That story doesn’t end well for her. Though I won’t be at this year’s Oracle Open World, it is easy to imagine the mood as 60k John Henry’s descend on Moscone to hear about Larry’s new steam-powered hammer.