back to article Amazon consumer biz celebrates ridding itself of last Oracle database with tame staff party... and a Big Red piñata

Amazon staffers – one dressed as a Big Red piñata – have taken to Twitter to celebrate shutting down their last Oracle database used in the retail side of the organisation. The corporate factions have been in various heated battles over the years – from poking fun at the other in conference speeches to scrapping in the courts …

  1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    So, is Amazon going to be flogging off little used Oracle licenses on the tat bazaar and claw back some of the expense?

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Coat

      Condition: Used good - some light scratching on the underside of the license.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Condition: Used good - some light scorching on the underside of the license.

        That's closer to the mark!

    2. IHateWearingATie
      Devil

      "So, is Amazon going to be flogging off little used Oracle licenses "

      Given this is Oracle, I can imagine not just that there is a clause preventing reassignment, but also the ability to claim ownership of your first born child if you have the temerity to try and leave them

  2. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    AWS Postgres Aurora....

    .. another example of how cloud companies can exploit open source code and turn it into proprietary products.

    Are they really better than Oracle? Or their pricing will become alike, once enough customers are locked-in?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

      Goodbye old vendor lock in, hell new vendor lock in...

    2. James Anderson

      Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

      To be fair Amazon developed the whole lot in house. The "Postgres" moniker is just the version that is API/SQL compatible with any existing Postgres application. They have editions for MySql and DB2 plus interestingly Oracle which they choose not to use when replacing their Oracle DBs.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

        Do you believe they developed it without looking at Postgres code - and maybe even reusing some? They don't distribute it, so they're covered....

        1. MacroRodent Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

          > Do you believe they developed it without looking at Postgres code - and maybe even reusing some? They don't distribute it, so they're covered....

          There would be no license problems even if they distributed something derived from Postgresql code. It is covered by a BSD-style liberal license (https://www.postgresql.org/about/licence/).

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

          The licence is designed to allow this. If they are using Postgres code and not contributing anything back then they're going to get into some kind of maintenance hell trying to manage their own code with upstream changes.

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

      Next iteration: the entire Amazon cloud now runs on LibreOffice Base.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

      It depends how you choose to look at it. AWS are doing to Oracle what Oracle did to IBM and DEC many years ago - providing a more affordable product that meets their customers needs.

      Is there any lock-in? In theory there's nothing stopping you moving to a different database if you can convince your in-house development team or external software vendor to support it ;) And while I'm making people laugh, I've just broken two of my Queen records. Oh, how I want to break three

      In terms of who is better, IBM << Oracle << AWS << ??? The only constant in IT is change.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

        ...what Oracle did to IBM and DEC many years ago - providing a more affordable product...

        Not as regards DEC. We were happily using the RdbVMS database when DEC sold it to Oracle. We went along to a meeting at Oracle, where the explicit message was "Rdb is now going to cost you a lot more money".

      2. Alister Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

        I've just broken two of my Queen records. Oh, how I want to break three

        How long have you been saving that one up for??

        Almost bad enough for a downvote, but I was kind...

        :)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @LDS - Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

      It doesn't need to be better than Oracle. All it has is to be good enough to worth the trouble replacing Oracle.

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: AWS Postgres Aurora....

      Once you have enough data in anyone's cloud migration to anywhere else becomes practcally impossible whatever database they're using.

  3. Uncle Ron

    Sale of the Century

    Isn't it true that Amazon is "simply" removing Oracle products from it's own business? AWS customers will continue to use, and pay hundreds of millions for, Oracle instances in the Amazon cloud, yes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sale of the Century

      Yes - this is in-house Amazon only, within AWS customers will continue to use Oracle if they desire.

      There are a few large AWS customers (glances at Salesforce and the US Govt) that might be paying a little more attention...

      This is about taking away Larry's right to gloat, taking away Larry's business is still a few years away. And running "Oracle cloud" on AWS a few years after that, assuming Oracle cloud have any remaining customers by then.

      1. Dabbb Bronze badge

        Re: Sale of the Century

        Well, yes, they will be paying attention.

        But not to the fact that some big company decided to shoot itself in the foot and move away from leading database product out of spite but to how much money and time it took them to actually do it.

        1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: Sale of the Century

          There are genuine competitors to Leisure Suit Larry and his Minions in the relational database arena. The biggest problem is not that db X cannot do what Oracle can do is that converting the code is a best tedious process as both dbs almost certainly have non-standard extensions, different tool kits, and variations on vanilla SQL. A conversion that is doable if you are willing to spend serious time, effort, and money to do it.

          So the real question is what the Minions do to piss off Amazon?

          1. Dabbb Bronze badge

            Re: Sale of the Century

            "So the real question is what the Minions do to piss off Amazon?"

            Opened office in Seattle and started hiring Amazon programmers like crazy offering good enough money for them to jump a ship ?

          2. spodula

            Re: Sale of the Century

            "So the real question is what the Minions do to piss off Amazon?"

            I suspect one audit too many. Oh, and probably not an insignificant amount of d**k waving by Larry.

            1. fandom Silver badge

              Re: Sale of the Century

              Maybe they did, but not necessarily.

              After all Amazon is now a competitor of Oracle, it makes sense for them take the effort and the expense to cut free of Oracle.

              That way they can go to potential customers and thell them "sure you can run Oracle on AWS but, why bother with the expense and the agravation of dealing with Oracle? We have this database that can deal with Amazon's needs without breaking a sweat and you can use it for [I have no idea how much, free?]"

              That means that Amazon cloud is suddenly much cheaper proposition.

              Also, Amazon may have just trained a batch of consultants ready to help you migrate from OracleDB

              1. Dabbb Bronze badge

                Re: Sale of the Century

                Those who really need Oracle DB do not care how much license fee is, it's a pocket change comparing to all other expenses, so no, there won't be mass migrations from Oracle DB to Aurora in foreseeable future because latter if cheaper.

                1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                  Re: Sale of the Century

                  I suspec that licence fees for Amazon's infamously low margin shopping business are more than pocket change. They're probably also not knee deep in the some of the stored procedures stuff that keep many companies tied to Oracle. It's also worth noting Enterprise DB has made a business of migrating smaller companies from Oracle to Postgres.

                  Oracle used to have a significant edge when it came to scale, performance and support but they've basically pissed away much of the technological advantage – for OLAP there are now a lot of alternatives, and pissed off a lot of the customers with the changes to licensing while winding down support.

                2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

                  Re: Sale of the Century

                  "Those who really need Oracle DB do not care how much license fee is," you mean all 3 of them. The truth most people who are using Oracle can use a different db even a different type instead of a relational and be fine. The vendor lock-in for most is the sheer PITA of migrating from Oracle to something else not some specific feature.

                  If Amazon can ditch Leisure Suit Larry there are probably very few Oracle customers who could not move to another db. This is a public relation disaster for Larry as a major, well known customer has publicly ditched them. And this customer is very large. As couple of noted, Amazon can give Oracle customers guidance on ditching Oracle for first hand experience. I would not

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sale of the Century

            "So the real question is what the Minions do to piss off Amazon?"

            The general sentiment is covered under a quote from the following article:

            https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-cto-werner-vogels-oracle-databases-2017-4?r=US&IR=T

            " While he didn't name names, he chided those legacy companies for what he called "punitive" licensing practices. Those companies make customers predict years in advance for the database capacity they'll need under a long-term sales contract, and may sometimes subject them to intense audits to verify they're not using more than they've paid for.

            By Vogels' reckoning, this "nightmare" practice means companies tend to buy as many as 30% more licenses than they actually wind up needing, as a hedge against the dreaded licensing audit, "because it's very hard to predict the future."

            When I change companies/contracts, I'm often shocked at some of the database licensing practices that are in-place. Development systems with production licences, systems licensed per core when the box is massively over-specced for its workload, applications licensed per seat when every user needs access or per core when there are only a handful of users. And these same companies often have to buy more licences in the event of an audit because they are doing something not covered by their existing over licensing.

        2. spodula

          Re: Sale of the Century

          Oracle has been loosing ground for years. Its debatable whether at the very top end they are still at the top, but for most normal and havey relational database usages, they have been overtaken in ease of use by pretty much everything else in the market.

          Rather than accept this and try to do something innovative about it, they have doubled down on screwing over their existing customers.

          Only an idiot would develop a new product using an Oracle back-end.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sale of the Century

          but once it has been done it can be done again far more inexpensively and much faster. Therein lies the danger of being as aggressive as Oracle has been with it's pricing and contractual fine print. Oracle build a great product but you ca only push your customers so hard because at some point something else will come along that can replace your product. I'd suggest MS should rethink its desktop mess or one of the behemoths might decide to put MS Office in it sights. LibreOffice has all the required elements and already does all that most people need.

          1. Korev Silver badge

            Re: Sale of the Century

            What Libre Office lacks are the collaboration tools that companies need. This is where MS Office, Google Doc etc. are way ahead.

            Someone please feel free to leap in if I'm wrong :)

          2. fandom Silver badge

            Re: Sale of the Century

            "[LibreOffice] already does all that most people need."

            Except perfect file format compatibilty, that's really what people need.

            And I use it exclusively, but then, I am not most people.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Sale of the Century

              Except perfect file format compatibilty

              Which MS-Office doesn't have either, especially when going between versions..

          3. Dabbb Bronze badge

            Re: Sale of the Century

            Experience of one company using it's own programmers to rewrite it's own applications to run with it's own database has zero relevance to anyone else enduring same task.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Sale of the Century

              "Experience of one company using it's own programmers to rewrite it's own applications to run with it's own database has zero relevance to anyone else enduring same task."

              I accept your argument that Amazon migrating away from Oracle can be applied as a general case. Amazon were reportedly paying US$10m for Oracle licencing (I can't find the source...), so there was a significant financial incentive combined with Oracle effectively doubling Oracle on AWS/Azure licence costs in 2017.

              However, it depends on what the database is used for - while many applications do have complex database designs that are difficult to migrate, a lot of in-house systems are often much simpler, having evolved from standalone systems (i.e. Excel/Access) and data warehousing/reporting/analytics requirements often differ from production applications.

              From AWS's point of view, the costs of moving to the cloud are not small so saving customers money on the way in increases adoption. AWS don't have to migrate 100% of Oracle DB's away from Oracle to achieve this.

              On the other side, Salesforce (reportedly paying US$300m for a 9 year Oracle licensing deal in 2013 or $33m/year) likely have a similar viewpoint to Amazon, where the cost savings could be significant. Or at least sufficient to justify any pain.

            2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Sale of the Century

              You obviously missed the line about this now means that Amazon has developed a competing product.

        4. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: Sale of the Century

          decided to shoot itself in the foot and move away from leading database product

          nah, I suspect that the real engineers who deal with large distributed systems at Amazon got tired of Oracle's inability to provide so simple data consistency guarantee like actual serializable isolation.

  4. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Amazon is the new Microsoft

    Amazon is the new Microsoft. Way too big, way too powerful, and should be broken up.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Amazon is the new Microsoft

      Actually, Amazon's stuff mostly works plus they have decent customer service, and you have never been able to say that about Microsoft.

      As opposed to people like NewEgg, who have sent me several wrong items, one of which I've been trying to get refunded since December. Or Dennis Kirk and BikeBandit that have sent me wrong motorcycle parts several times. Or Twisted Throttle that refused to sell me parts to move their accessories from an old bike to a new bike.

      I could keep listing "top rated" companies that have fallen short time and again.

      Amazon just takes my money and sends me what I ordered. It's no wonder they're steamrolling everyone else.

      1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

        Re: Amazon is the new Microsoft

        Amazon just takes my money and sends me what I ordered.

        Even better around here in Thailand: send me my order and I will pay only on delivery. It is much safer for the customer!

  5. Mikel

    For the cost of an Oracle license

    For the cost of an Oracle license you can buy some beefy hardware to run postgres on. And professional support. And retraining for the staff. And a nice boat.

    1. crayon

      Re: For the cost of an Oracle license

      ... Or they could use the money saved to pay some taxes. It's been reported that Alibaba paid some $7.7 Billion in taxes last year:

      https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/04/article/alibaba-paid-51-6-billion-yuan-in-tax-last-year/

      I wonder how much Amazon paid.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For the cost of an Oracle license

      Or at the high end, SQL Server. Postgres cant match technology like Always on Availability Groups just yet (Microsoft's take on Oracle RAC) and is a long way behind in general.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: For the cost of an Oracle license

        You may be right for some features of the very high end. Otherwise Postgres has most definitely caught up in many areas and has its own advantages in others, not least in the flexibility of the backend. Ever since Sun bought MySQL there was an uptick in companies actively engaging with Postgres either through code, sponsoring feature development or paying for professional support from companies that do develop the DB. And after Oracle bought Sun that uptick really ticked up.

        The fact is that many companies buy something like Oracle believing there going to need every feature only to find out that they don't actually need them and that there are cheaper alternatives, even after taking the costs of migration into consideration. Companies like NTT wouldn't be playing around with Postgres if it didn't work for them.

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: For the cost of an Oracle license

          "Companies like NTT wouldn't be playing around with Postgres if it didn't work for them."

          Telco companies are often willing to use the nastiest most horrible to run solution if it saves them a few cents across their whole estate. Just for instance Open Stack - whereas very few "normal" companies would take that pain and overhead. For those of us that don't want an army of staff all editing text files, then there are easier solutions.

  6. Captain Boing

    cue aggressive takeover of Postgres by you know who...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Postgresql has a pretty permissive licence. I think if they tried to change that the whole thing could be forked.

      https://www.postgresql.org/about/licence/

      https://www.postgresql.org/about/press/faq/

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Very true, MariaDB seems to have quite a small mindshare though.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      I can't imagine the competition authorities around the world would allow this. (Although I'd have said the same about MySQL)

    3. fandom Silver badge

      Kind of hard since Postgress isn't owned by a company.

      They could buy EnterpriseDB but that hardly the same thing.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Why use Postgres

    it was running Aurora Postgres (it could hardly use MySQL, after all)

    Well, they could, or MariaDB, but if this is for OLTP you're going to want something that handles transactions and data integrity better than MySQL does.

    1. stiine Bronze badge

      Re: Why use Postgres

      You're missing something....Oracle owns MySQL...

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Why use Postgres

        Not missing it at all, Oracle would happily license MySQL to Amazon. Or Amazon could use MariaDB (would probably also require a commercial licence) but neither would be a good fit for the probable use case.

  8. Potemkine! Silver badge

    there was no further comment from Oracle today when The Register contacted the enterprise software giant.

    What? No PR BS from Oracle? Astonishing.

  9. ATeal

    WTF is up with that Dabbb guy?

    https://forums.theregister.co.uk/user/66711/ he's all over this thread.

    I'm guessing you have some sort of Oracle DB certificate thing - you know most of that knowledge will carry over right? Since 2012 MariaDB (at least) has really started doing well at adding stuff (before that it was like "we support /the syntax of/ constraints" and stuff like that) - just yesterday I was reading about the recursive "WITH" statements - which is the only thing I've ever actually looked up and found an Oracle DB documentation link for and little else. Sequences I found in Microsoft's "transact SQL" (dialect used with MSSQL?) - IT HAS THAT TOO (now) - forgive that tangent it's just ... they've really pulled their socks up.

    But the point still stands, if you can do Oracle you can transfer those skills over. Yes ALL of them take the SQL standard "under advisement" but transactions and isolation levels really only have a few ways to go - so the knowledge carries over.

    FWIW BTW I think this has been a long time coming. For example: I've never used Oracle (or MS') DB offerings - well except for MySQL. I cut my teeth on that with PHP, I then carried that over to other projects; I still use the long end-of-lifed GUI tools. I imagine I'm far from alone. It's probably only lasted this long because of the MS courses you can get certified for (probably - not my area)

    Although from what I've heard there are still some rough edges around MySQL/MariaDB - for example replication. You get the binlog (give the slave a set of changes to make to tables) or statement based (make the slave run the statement and derive the changes for itself) methods and have to be careful not to use non-deterministic functions in the latter case and so on. Oracle can do this better(? - I've just "heard" it) - there's also the WITH statement stuff mentioned, but MariaDB has that now. The other case I imagine is indexes. I hear TransactSQL gives you A LOT of control over table structure and index types. For a long time InnoDB (Sometimes called XtraDB but not any more) - the one with transactions - only had B-Tree indexes (they could be unique, I mean the actual structure) - not hash or R-tree, or fulltext. Again times are (FINALLY) changing!

    However I imagine loads of other people (from those I've met, and my own work) just did what I did: build around it. Join us ;)

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: WTF is up with that Dabbb guy?

      MySQL, and by extension, MariaDB has definitely benefitted from being owned by Oracle. Lots of longstanding bugs have been fixed and features added. Oracle wants to do this to make the transition between product lines easier, but also to be able to charge more for licences and support.

      MySQL was always traditionally faster at writing than traditional RDBMS largely by being prepared to sacrifice integrity for speed, though it also encouraged some downright stupid development practices. MyASM tables were NoSQL before there was NoSQL: performance for RDBMS always involves tradeoffs. InnoDB was always a hack (ALTER TABLE is a recipe for a system lockup), but it did what a lot of people needed,.

      Nice to know that you're finally getting CTE's (WITH clauses) but this is just ANSI SQL. Companies will always pay a premium for apparent out of the box features, especially things like availability: you usually get this by throwing more hardware at the problem: more memory for performance and more machines for availability, which is what people buying Oracle will end up doing, but managers will be reassured by being told that the product does this rather than hoping to rely on their own developers. But Oracle has also traditionally locked people in through the performance of server functions aka "stored procedures", because anything can do on the server is likely to be significantly faster than on the client. The last time I looked at writing these for MySQL, for some kind of pivot function, I was very disappointed but maybe things have improved.

      Anyway, yes, the open source RDBMS have improved a lot over the last 10 years and long may it continue.

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