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Oracle Autonomous Database shifts IT focus to strategic planning

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This article is part of our Conference Coverage: Oracle OpenWorld 2019 coverage: Oracle seeks loftier cloud perch

New cloud and on-premises options for Oracle Autonomous Database

Oracle introduced new cloud and on-premises deployment options for its namesake database and automated cloud service as Oracle OpenWorld 2019 got underway.

Oracle continues to invest heavily in its namesake database technology, with new hardware and cloud options for deployment of the Oracle Autonomous Database managed service and the promise of some big new software features.

The developments came as the Redwood City, Calif., tech giant kicked off the Oracle OpenWorld 2019 conference in San Francisco Monday. In his opening keynote, CTO and co-founder Larry Ellison remarked on the complexity of running multiple databases for different needs, in contrast to the converged, multi-model approach he said Oracle is now embracing.

Much like the modern smartphone integrates multiple capabilities into a single device, Oracle Database -- and the Autonomous Database service that's built on top of it -- can do many different things, Ellison said.

"We're a relational database, but we're also an in-memory database," he said. "We support machine learning, we have blockchain built-in, all of these things, all of these capabilities in one database."

As part of the news, Oracle said its Gen 2 Exadata Cloud at Customer system, which brings cloud capabilities on premises for database deployment, now is generally available.

Oracle also boosted its Oracle Cloud lineup with a new free tier for trial use of Oracle Autonomous Database and other services to help familiarize users with cloud deployments. And helping to power the database offerings will be a new generation of the Exadata Database Machine, dubbed the X8M.

The vendor also previewed some new capabilities that it said will debut in 2020 as part of Oracle Database 20c, the next update in the annual release schedule that Oracle adopted for the database management system last year.

"As to Oracle's general direction, they are working aggressively to counteract the narrative that Oracle is more expensive, especially in the cloud," said Tony Baer, principal of New York-based consulting firm dbInsight. "When it comes to on-premises engineered systems like Exadata, the emphasis is not directly on underpricing, but, instead, packing the most bang for the buck."

The refresh of the Exadata Cloud at Customer system gets it in sync with the mainstream of Oracle's cloud and database development, while easing connectivity with customers' own on-premises IT infrastructures, Baer added.

Gen 2 Exadata Cloud

Oracle introduced the Gen 2 cloud a year ago. But Exadata had still been running on the Gen 1 cloud until now, Jenny Tsai-Smith, vice president of product management for database development at Oracle, said in an interview.

One of the big changes is that the control plane in the Gen 1 cloud that formerly resided on the customer premises is now directly integrated as part of the Gen 2 cloud.

As such, she said customers will now have a lower cost, because it eliminates the extra hardware they would have had to buy as part of the Gen 1 offering. The Gen 2 cloud also provides Exadata Cloud at Customer with improved network operations, with a promise that no more than two network hops will be required when transmitting data in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, the company's IaaS platform.

Oracle is also using OpenWorld as a venue to preview the X8M Exadata system, which uses high-speed RDMA (remote direct memory access) over Ethernet, instead of InfiniBand, to provide connectivity.

The new system also uses Intel's Optane persistent memory modules to provide more I/O and lower latency than earlier iterations of Exadata. The X8M will become available to on-premises customers first and is set to power the Oracle Database Cloud Exadata Service next year, Tsai-Smith said.

Oracle Database 20c

Also coming in 2020 will be the next iteration of Oracle Database, available both for conventional deployments and as part of Oracle Autonomous Database, which combines the database software with automated administration capabilities driven partly by machine learning algorithms. Oracle Database 20c will include native support for persistent memory (PMEM), automated machine learning and native blockchain tables, according to Oracle.

PMEM enables accelerated file mapping to system memory, Tsai-Smith said.

"So what happens is instead of going through the database buffer cache, we can go directly to PMEM memory and access data," she said.

Blockchain as a table type in Oracle Database 20c is another key addition. Tsai-Smith said that the blockchain table type is a relational table in the database that has some special properties in that it will not allow any dropping of tables.

Oracle has had a blockchain cloud service since 2018 that is based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric, but Tsai-Smith said the capability coming in Oracle 20c is something a bit different because it's located inside of the Oracle database software. She added that Oracle Database now supports JavaScript Object Notation, graph technology and other applications, in addition to relational data. "The addition of blockchain speaks to our work around making Oracle Database a multi-model database," she said.

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