“Just one more thing,” Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said, as he completed his keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld September 16. After detailing a raft of innovations for the company’s Generation 2 Cloud Infrastructure—complete with trademark brash challenges to industry rivals—Ellison, with a nod to his friend and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, ended with a kicker: Starting immediately, Oracle would offer a free version of its revolutionary autonomous database for people to build, learn, and explore on Oracle Cloud.
“So, everybody should leave now, open your laptop, log on, and give it a try,” Ellison said to close out his keynote.
Developers who sign up for a cloud account under the new “Always Free” program will receive access to Oracle Autonomous Database and the essential Oracle Cloud Infrastructure building blocks to create applications on it, including virtual machines, object storage, and data egress. Free version users also get access to a host of free tools for building those applications, such as Oracle Application Express, he said, as well as drivers for popular programming languages, REST services for publishing data, and even a popular notebook for doing data science.
That means developers can prototype, build, and try their next big idea for free. Students can learn on the most modern cloud—using the same database that their future employers like banks, biotechs, and global manufacturers use to run their businesses. Schools can build courses with real-world labs. Enterprises can prototype for free with no time constraints. “And it runs on Exadata,” he added. “You get our best stuff.”
And as long as people use the service, they can keep their free account: “It will never expire. It will never go away,” Ellison said.
The new Always Free offering should add fuel to the fire of growth for Oracle Autonomous Database—the company’s self-driving database that deploys, tunes, patches, upgrades, and secures itself, “leaving no room for pilot error,” said Ellison. And it does it all while continuing to run, instead of manually taking the database to patch and upgrade, as one would do on a first-generation cloud like Amazon Web Services, he said.
During the talk, Ellison made clear that the company intends to continue to evolve its Autonomous Database and widen its appeal to people across the spectrum of database users. Here are four recently announced database innovations:
1. Evolving Exadata
Ellison announced a major upgrade to Exadata engineered systems, which are designed to run Oracle Database for peak performance and reliability. Exadata machines underpin the autonomous database. The new Oracle Exadata X8M offers new direct memory access and persistent memory, giving companies improved data access across workloads that demand lower latency, such as high-frequency trading and IoT data streams. The “M” in Exadata X8M is for “memory,” said Ellison. “We could have X8PM for “persistent memory,” but we didn’t have enough room on the cabinet door.” The new Exadata machines are, not surprisingly, “faster than the X7 that came before,” said Ellison. “More CPUs, more cores, more memory. Everything runs faster.”
2. Appealing to Citizen Data Scientists
While Oracle Database has long provided a library of machine learning algorithms for data analytics, Oracle Cloud databases now offer AutoML, a feature that allows both experienced data scientists and non-experts to quickly build, test, and deploy machine learning models in the database without writing a line of code.
3. Adding More for Developers
Oracle announced a new blockchain table type where rows are cryptographically chained to provide a secured ledger. This should make it easier to use and more functional than existing blockchain implementations because the blockchain tables can participate in transactions and queries with other tables. In addition to native blockchain tables, Oracle also added a binary JSON datatype for increased performance. “And it’s all in one system—in one autonomous system, in one highly available, secure, autonomous system” for developers, Ellison said.
4. Keeping Data Safe (On Both Sides of the Cloud Relationship)
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure now offers an added set of features, called Data Safe, that guides users of all Oracle cloud databases as they manage their side of the cloud service relationship. Data Safe does this by helping customers set and keep proper configurations, watch for risky users, do data audits, and spot and mask sensitive data. If it determines there’s suspicious behavior or that a customer starts drifting from a standard configuration, “We’ll let you know about it,” Ellison said.
Data Safe is meant to complement the security features already in Oracle Autonomous Database, such as always-on encryption and its self-patching capability. “Oracle Data Safe is available today,” Ellison said, “and no additional cost in the Oracle Cloud.”