According to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison:

Let me tell you an interesting fact, Amazon does not use AWS to run their business. Amazon runs their entire business on-top of Oracle, on-top of the Oracle database. They have been unable to migrate to AWS because it is not good enough.

Is the charge that Ellison makes - that Amazon relies more on Oracle than on AWS for their business - true?

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    I'd vote to close this question as AWS and Oracle are not closely related products. It's like claiming Lewis Hamilton drives a Mini Cooper to work instead of a Mercedes. Maybe that's true but whether it's true or not it's not relevant. – GordonM Nov 5 at 15:02
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    @GordonM Not everyone knows that – Azor Ahai Nov 5 at 17:37
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    @GordonM Is there anything within the established rules of this site that would make that a reason to close the question, rather than answer it? The claim seems notable, and the fact that it is nonsensical is the fault of Larry Ellison, not the user posting this question, and has provided the basis for the answers. – IMSoP Nov 5 at 19:07
up vote 194 down vote accepted

Misleading at best

Oracle is completely different than AWS. This quote is wrong such that it's comparing apples to oranges.

Ellison is claiming that Amazon is using is Oracle's database to run their apps and services, and implying that it's possible to instead use Amazon Web Services. Amazon did (and does as of 2018) use Oracle database systems, as Ellison claims.

(As a sidenote, Amazon is moving away from Oracle DB to their own database system, however that's irrelevant to this argument. I've explained that near the bottom.)


From Ellison's quote:

Amazon does not use AWS to run their business.

False. As Michael Hampton pointed out in the comments, Amazon has been running its services and website from AWS since 2010.

Amazon runs their entire business on-top of Oracle: on-top of the Oracle database.

Meh. That's CEO hyperbole. You could argue that since Amazon uses Oracle's database, and you couldn't run the business without a database, then the entire business is on top of Oracle, but really that's just misleading.

Amazon could use another database system instead (and they're reportedly in the process of going that route).

They have been unable to migrate to AWS because it is not good enough.

Mostly False. It's true that they haven't yet switched completely away from Oracle. However claiming that the reason is that AWS is not good enough is plain nonsense. Oracle database is not a competitor with AWS. According to Amazon,

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a secure cloud services platform, offering compute power, database storage, content delivery and other functionality

Whereas (according to Oracle),

A database server is the key to solving the problems of information management.

Oracle Database is a database server, and AWS is a cloud services platform. You can run an Oracle Database instance on AWS. In other words, it's not possible to switch from Oracle Database to AWS, just like it's not possible to switch from pouring gas into your car to having a car -- they're different, and they can coexist.


Later in the interview, Ellison notes that

Maybe our database is better than Amazon's database is. And, well, why else would Amazon keep buying our database?

Amazon was founded in 1994. It's not easy to switch database systems (couldn't find a direct source, but you can read here if you're interested). From the CNBC article linked to in another answer,

Amazon began moving off Oracle [database] about four or five years ago [...] and the full migration should wrap up in about 14 to 20 months.

Amazon isn't still paying for Oracle because their database is better, but rather because any huge change (especially for a company the size of Amazon) isn't instant.


To further complicate matters, Oracle does have a competing service to AWS, and they call it Oracle Cloud. Amazon does not use Oracle Cloud.

Additionally as I hinted above, Amazon does have a competing database system called Amazon Aurora. They're reportedly switching to this system, and should be done by some time in 2020.


Amazon does use Oracle's database, and will for a few years yet, but that is a completely different thing than AWS. I'd rate the quote mostly false for comparing apples to oranges, and for claiming that Amazon doesn't use AWS to run its business (it does!).

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    The way you wrote this answer is almost as misleading as the quote. A major service in AWS is relational databases with caching regions. Saying that they are apples and oranges is a poor analogy. AWS is apples, bananas, and oranges and Oracle is oranges, and yet Amazon still uses Oracles oranges instead of their own. Really the analogy you have is wrong and the quote in play is more accurate than your answer. – blankip Nov 8 at 16:11
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    @blankip The answer goes through the quote (and additional quotes from the same source) line by line, and gives reasoning for each part. The only part of the original quote that is at all accurate is that Amazon use Oracle's database; they do so in addition to many services they've built themselves. The claim that "Amazon does not use AWS to run their business" is categorically false; the claim that "Amazon runs their entire business on-top of Oracle" is dubious; and the choice to compare the whole of AWS to a database product is Larry Ellison's, not anyone's on this site. – IMSoP Nov 8 at 18:32
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    @IMSoP - I don't think this answer is accurate and if it is it is accurate based on a guess at best. If you have ever been involved in large enterprise application, there is always somethign driving the application. Really no reason in the world a company as large as Amazon in the same industry would use Oracle if it was not the fundamental driver. It is easy to move one-off things. But real-time database coordination/replication/output is the basis of their online business and what Oracle is doing. So the Oracle CEO might be slightly overstretched and cocky, but probably right. – blankip Nov 8 at 20:29
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    @blankip How on earth is it "misleading" to dissect a quote piece-by-piece, and refute each point individually, complete with concessions that certain parts of it are at least somewhat true? – Doktor J Nov 8 at 22:39
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    @einPaule I reply to that claim in the next paragraph, although I use a separate quote from Ellison a few minutes later in the interview. The main difference is that the answer is false, because it's apples-to-oranges vs false, because Amazon is switching to their own database; it just takes a while. – Cullub Nov 10 at 16:59

Amazon uses both AWS and the Oracle relational database system to run their business.

The quote by Larry Ellison is very misleading but not outright false.

Amazon uses AWS infrastructure to run their business, This includes machines (presumably managed in house by something like their RDS service) running the Oracle database service. AWS stands for Amazon Web Services and is normally used to refer to their whole infrastructure as a service platform, not just their managed database services.

What is Larry Ellison is presumably referring to as 'AWS' is the open source relational database system PostgreSQL, backed by Amazon's proprietary storage engine, Aurora. Amazon are currently in the process of migrating from Oracle databases to this, although are facing some difficulties in this process.

Mr Ellison's comments are misleading because they confuse cloud infrastructure services with database systems. Oracle also offers cloud infrastructure as a service. The use of AWS in his comment could lead a reader to assume he is referring to this rather than the database system.

It also is worth noting that Amazon uses a variety of database systems for different parts of their business, including the NoSQL Dynamo technology as well as Oracle, as discussed by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, so suggesting 'their entire business' runs off Oracle is again misleading. However, as the 2018 prime day outage shows, Oracle is still a crucial part of their business.

  • proprietry storage engine -> proprietary storage engine – Faheem Mitha Nov 9 at 10:20
  • I think the 2018 prime day outage shows that they have issues migrating away from Oracle, but it does not show that Oracle is still a crucial part of their business. I haven't seen a source that would tell how much Amazon uses Oracle in 2018. – eis Nov 12 at 9:01

Apparently, they are currently in the process of migrating from Oracle to AWS.

According to an interview with "one of the people" published in August 2018 by CNBC:

Amazon began moving off Oracle about four or five years ago, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the project is confidential. Some parts of Amazon's core shopping business still rely on Oracle, the person said, and the full migration should wrap up in about 14 to 20 months. Another person said that Amazon had been considering a departure from Oracle for years before the transition began but decided at the time that it would require too much engineering work with perhaps too little payoff.

The primary issue Amazon has faced on Oracle is the inability for the database technology to scale to meet Amazon's performance needs, a person familiar with the matter said. Another person, who said the move could be completed by mid-2019, added that there hasn't been any development of new technology relying on Oracle databases for quite a while.

It's also interesting to note that Gideon Shavit, Software Engineer at Amazon says that at the very beginning Amazon used "a single Oracle instance" to store everything.

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    The article doesn't say Amazon is "migrating from Oracle to AWS" (which doesn't make much sense), it just says it's slowly migrating away from Oracle, and that it has a Database Migration Service used by its customers to migrate from database systems such as Oracle's to AWS (which still doesn't make much sense - AWS is not a database system). – reinierpost Nov 5 at 23:05
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    @reinierpost - AWS is a database system, and a compute cloud, and a cloud storage service, and an smtp service, and a queuing system, and a CDN and many other things -- it's an umbrella term that includes all of Amazon's services, which includes Amazon Aurora, their own relational database. – Johnny Nov 8 at 18:06
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    @Johnny: I know, and Aurora wasn't mentioned. – reinierpost Nov 8 at 18:20

One thing that Amazon still uses Oracle for (as of Nov 2018) is their nameservers.

They do have their own nameserver product called Route53. However they use Dyn (which was acquired by Oracle in 2016) instead of their own product. You can verify this yourself easily:

https://www.whatsmydns.net/#NS/amazon.com

This currently shows multiple nameservers on dynect.net

Although interestingly they use Route53 for some parts of Amazon. This might indicate that they are planning to move entirely eventually.

https://www.whatsmydns.net/#NS/smile.amazon.com

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    While interesting, I think this is tenuously connected to the claim. As you say, Oracle acquired Dyn fairly recently, so considering it part of the Oracle platform is dubious. – IMSoP Nov 8 at 18:18
  • @IMSoP what struck me is that, several years ago a Dyn salesperson called me to convince me to switch from Route53 and used the exact same argument: "Amazon doesn't even use AWS for their own nameservers" – user46979 Nov 8 at 18:37

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