Database competition heats up as AWS, Oracle and Snowflake reshape the landscape

Database competition heats up as AWS, Oracle and Snowflake reshape the landscape

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For many years, the database market was a staid, sleepy part of the information technology landscape, occupied by a few large companies that generated infrequent innovation. Times have changed.

Oracle Corp.’s recent announcement of enhancements for its MySQL HeatWave database marked the third time the company has added new capabilities to the offering in just the past year. Snowflake Inc.’s Data Cloud has continued to generate headlines, following the firm’s Wall Street debut in 2020 with the largest IPO by a software company in history. And Amazon Web Services Inc. continues to exert significant power in the database industry from its leading position as the world’s largest public cloud with continued eye-catching revenue growth.

The competitive influence of these companies and others in the database market has created a plethora of choices for IT executives as they must find the best path toward a simpler, faster, cheaper and, ultimately, better solution.

“I’m glad I’m not in IT anymore,” said Matt Kimball (pictured, bottom right), senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “It is a complex and dangerous world out there, and I don’t envy the IT folks that have to support these modernization and transformation efforts going on inside the enterprise. It’s almost like there is a pseudo level of witchcraft that’s required to support the modern data environment.”

Kimball spoke with Dave Vellante, theCUBE industry analyst, in an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. During an Analyst Power Panel on the future of database platforms, Vellante and Kimball were joined by Holger Mueller (pictured, top left), vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc.; Bob Evans (pictured, top center), founder and principal of Cloud Wars; Marc Staimer (pictured, top right), senior analyst at Wikibon; and Ron Westfall (pictured, bottom left), research director and senior analyst at Futurum Research.

Oracle’s bold moves

The steady drumbeat of news from Oracle has caught the analysts’ attention. The company’s gradual rollout of MySQL HeatWave at the end of 2020 has been followed by additional performance boosts and new analytics capabilities for the database.

“The pace is just amazing on what they’re doing with these releases on HeatWave,” Staimer said. “It ties together MySQL with an integrated built-in analytics engine, a data warehouse built-in. Then they added automation with Autopilot, and now they’ve added machine learning to it. And it’s all in the same service.”

In addition to its enhancements for HeatWave, Oracle has published a set of benchmarks for the offering. The company published benchmark performance results against competing databases and has challenged other firms to run comparisons.

“It’s important to know that all of the Oracle data is backed by the fact that they’re using benchmarks,” Westfall noted. “All details are posted on GitHub, and anybody can look at these results. They are fully transparent. If you don’t agree with this data, then challenge it. We haven’t seen that in all of the new updates for HeatWave over the last 15 months.”

Oracle’s recent activity with MySQL HeatWave has brought additional focus on the company’s overall cloud strategy. Oracle Cloud has lagged significantly behind other cloud providers in terms of market share. Yet one analyst views the moves with HeatWave as part of Oracle chairman and CTO Larry Ellison’s broader view of his company’s long-term strategy.

“It’s so inherent to the Oracle value proposition. It’s Larry’s vision of building the IBM of the 21st century, right from the silicon all the way across the seven stacks to the click of the user,” Mueller said. “That’s what makes the database tied to the Oracle Cloud infrastructure.”

The Snowflake phenomenon

In the meantime, Snowflake has rolled out its third and fourth industry-specific data clouds over the past month, one for healthcare and life sciences and another targeting the retail sector. Snowflake’s disruption of legacy data lakes and data warehouses has propelled revenue growth and raised the competitive stakes in the database industry.

“The Snowflake phenomenon is a rare, rare bird that comes up and can grow 100% at a billion-dollar revenue level,” Evans said. “They’ve had a chance to come in and scare the crap out of everybody, rock the market with something totally new – the Data Cloud. Will the bigger companies be able to catch up and offer a compelling alternative?”

One of those bigger competitors is AWS, and the cloud giant has been pioneering its own revenue growth story in the past year. Following the ascension of Adam Selipsky to the top job at AWS in 2021, the company has been gathering momentum, according to Evans.

“This intense competition makes all of the different cloud vendors better,” Evans said. “Look at the Adam Selipsky effect at AWS. He took over in the middle of May, and in Q2, Q3, Q4, AWS’ growth rate accelerated. And in each of those three quarters, they grew faster than Microsoft’s cloud, which has not happened in two or three years.”

Faster, cheaper, simpler remains the mantra for companies seeking to establish dominance in the database space.

“Those companies who are going to develop faster, cheaper, simpler products that are going to solve customer and IT problems are the ones that are going to succeed,” Staimer said. “The ones who are just focused on the technology are going to fall by the wayside. Aiming at that simpler, faster, cheaper mentality is where you’re going to see this market go.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations.

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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