At the recent Oracle Open World 2019 conference in San Francisco, Oracle made an announcement that will be of interest to the wider developer community. It is offering an always-free tier on its cloud for developers to do in what they wish from developing work to running a small business. The tier has enough free-access services to achieve useful work and will attract developers keen to work with Oracle Autonomous Databases and the no-code/low-code Oracle Application Express (Apex) tool. The battle for enterprise public cloud is heating up as cloud players seek to take market share away from the current leader, AWS. Larry Ellison (Oracle co-founder, executive chairman, and CTO) talked of building 20 new cloud data centers around the globe over the next year to go head to head with AWS. The free tier is a nice ramp-up for individual developers to dip their toes into Oracle Cloud and, as the argument goes, continue with Oracle as they create startups and build tomorrow's businesses.
A significant differentiator is that the application execution engine is coresident in the Oracle database, in contrast to other tools that typically use an application server performing database access from a mid tier and require multiple round trips across the server-to-database tiers. Oracle Apex's "light" mid-tier pass-through model results in no latency when accessing data.
For building modern apps, Oracle is also active in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) space. Developers can add Oracle analytics and libraries to their Apex apps and can work with open source Python libraries including TensorFlow and Keras. The free tier looks promising as an environment not just for traditional app developers but also for ML app developers such as data scientists and data engineers. These are early days, but Oracle should create easy start points on the free tier for the ML community, because these rely on data that can reside on the autonomous databases, creating an excellent environment for data scientists.
The free tier allows an individual two Oracle Autonomous Databases (with choice of Autonomous Transaction Processing or Autonomous Data Warehouse) with access to key tools: Oracle Apex and Oracle SQL Developer. The databases each have one Oracle CPU (OCPU) and 20GB storage. In addition, available are two Oracle Cloud Infrastructure compute VMs; block, object, and archive storage; load balancer and data egress; and monitoring and notifications features. The two compute VMs have 1/8 OCPU and 1GB memory each, and the storage has two block volumes, 100GB in total, 10GB object storage, and 10GB archive storage.