Virtualization Technology News and Information
The "Amazon Effect" gets real(er) for Oracle

Written by Ravi Mayuram, SVP Products and Engineering, Couchbase

We recently saw Amazon engineers celebrating the shutdown of their last Oracle database used for inventory and shipping, which is a huge cornerstone of Amazon's business. It's something that even just a few years ago would have been unimaginable.

In the past few months, we've also seen a protracted war of words between Oracle and Amazon regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their database products, both companies strongly touting examples of real-world, mission-critical customers who rely on their technology. Beyond the hype and hyperbole, what does this really mean?

In real terms, it means that the dominant database technology (relational databases) and vendors (IBM, Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft) for the several decades are looking at a stagnant to shrinking market share. Why? Because innovations in database management, like NoSQL, Big Data, and Cloud-based infrastructure, are causing companies to rethink their approach to databases. They're re-thinking it both for new customer experience-focused applications, as well as for traditionally back-office applications like inventory and shipping management.

The "Amazon Effect" is twofold. The first and most obvious is the ability to disrupt existing markets, redefine the marketplace, and take a leadership position within that new definition.  This we see in the ever growing trend of migrating existing applications and workloads to the cloud instances of same or similar databases, hosted and managed by the Cloud Service Providers. This 'as a service model' of seamlessly moving existing relational databases running in data centers in the enterprise to the cloud saves significant cost both in capital (hardware cost) and operating expense. The disruption, here is the utility computing paradigm as opposed to the bespoke model of the past.

The second and somewhat less visible, unless you follow these things, is the use of innovative technology to power this disruption, as well as the willingness to reexamine old ironclad beliefs about what technology should be applied to which business problem.

The ubiquitous use of relational databases for every business problem is a great example of this. New applications and services are increasingly built on non-relational databases - mainly in NoSQL technologies. These new, innovative technologies and distributed cloud-based databases allow businesses to innovate faster to meet the demands of their customers before their competition does. They can now build and deploy applications more quickly, more flexibly, and more cost effectively than was possible with relational databases. This provides significant business advantages over their competitors in technical capabilities (especially in terms of high scalability and high availability), time to market, and reduced operational costs.

But how is NoSQL different from relational databases and how does that help my business, you might ask? Fundamentally, NoSQL databases are designed to provide simpler, flexible data formats, distributed data storage, and high speed data access, whereas relational databases were built in much different era and were fundamentally designed to be "electronic ledgers." They are architected using a rigid schema, centralized data storage and data access. NoSQL allows business to more easily change their applications (giving them reduced time to market), and more easily and cost effectively scale their database services as their business grows. It is in this elastic scaling these NoSQL technologies excel. This basically allows these databases to be scaled in the "pay-as-you-go" model that cloud computing enables by using ubiquitous, general use hardware resources. Relational databases were built to be ‘vertically scaling.' This means scaling them is more expensive as it requires specialized hardware and goes against the grain of the more modern ‘pay-as-you-go' model.

Over the past few years, leading-edge companies across a wide swath of verticals have also been experiencing the "Amazon Effect," transforming their industries by leveraging innovations in database technology. Companies like  Amadeus,, Comcast, DIRECTV, Equifax, United Airlines, and Verizon look at both existing legacy and new applications as an opportunity to disrupt their market and gain market share. It's digital transformation at its best with innovative database technology at the heart of it all.


About the Author


As Senior Vice President of Engineering and CTO, Ravi is responsible for product development and delivery of the Couchbase Data Platform, which includes Couchbase Server and Couchbase Mobile. He came to Couchbase from Oracle, where he served as senior director of engineering and led innovation in the areas of recommender systems and social graph, search and analytics, and lightweight client frameworks. Also while at Oracle, Ravi was responsible for kickstarting the cloud collaboration platform. Previously in his career, Ravi held senior technical and management positions at BEA, Siebel, Informix, HP, and startup BroadBand Office. Ravi holds a Master of Science degree in Mathematics from University of Delhi.

Published Friday, April 26, 2019 10:24 AM by David Marshall
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