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Oracle’s autonomous database could leave DBAs unemployed

The long-term future of database administrators could be at risk if every enterprise adopts the Oracle 18c autonomous database

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd threw the long-term future of hundreds of thousands of database administrators (DBAs) into question while talking up the benefits of the company’s new autonomous database.

The autonomous self-patching, self-healing database, the first version of which is 18c, is a part of a long-term play to help draw the company’s customers into Oracle’s piece of the cloud – which is increasingly packing itself with cloud-based applications and services.

Hurd said it could take almost a year to get on-premise databases patched, whereas patching was instant with the autonomous version. “If everyone had the autonomous database, that would change to instantaneous,” he said.

So where does that leave Oracle DBAs around the world? Possibly in the unemployment queue, at least according to Hurd.

“There are hundreds of thousands of DBAs managing Oracle databases. If all of that moved to the autonomous database, the number would change to zero,” Hurd said at an Oracle media event in Redwood Shores, California.

That could be appealing for companies with large rosters of DBAs from a cost-cutting perspective, but that day is most likely many years away.

It is early days for the 18c version, which became available in March 2018, and most Oracle customers are still kicking its tyres.

Three customers on a panel said they were evaluating 18c with a view of using it in the future. They were Michael Sherwood, IT director for the city of Las Vegas; Glenn Coles, Yamaha US CIO; and Lynden Tennison, CIO of Union Pacific Corporation. Hertz and Accenture are also likely early 18c users.

Meanwhile, Pat Sullivan, Accenture’s North America Oracle business group lead, said at the event that his firm has 20,000 DBAs and their future looked reasonably rosy with many set to become more specialised database experts – if the basic database maintenance role went away with the autonomous version.

Hurd said the performance boost from 18c was on a level with the company’s high-end Exadata Database Machine, used by around 5% of Oracle’s on-premise customers.

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“They [Exadata customers] get 20 times better performance than our traditional on-premise customers. Imagine everybody getting Exadata-plus performance. Extreme performance, totally patched, totally optimised,” he said.

Hurd was also very bullish on Oracle’s applications business, which includes revenues from on-premise support, on-premise licensing and software as a service (SaaS).

“I made a prediction in the middle of last year that [the applications business] would grow double digits…and that will happen for us during the year,” he said.

The company is also throwing in top-level platinum level support at no cost for anyone using Oracle’s Fusion SaaS applications. The support package includes 24/7 rapid response technical support, proactive technical monitoring, implementation guidance and improved on-demand education resources.

On the autonomous platform-as-a-service front, which Oracle is increasingly targeting as a future cash cow, the company announced the availability of three new services that have baked in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms. These are the Oracle Autonomous Analytics Cloud, Oracle Autonomous Integration Cloud, and Oracle Autonomous Visual Builder Cloud.

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