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Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is not backing down from Amazon Web Services (AWS), promising customers that Oracle Cloud will be cheaper and smarter than its biggest competitor through the use of automation. Ellison made the remarks Tuesday at Oracle’s Redwood City headquarters.

The event, which was also livestreamed online, offered a preview of announcements coming out next month during its Oracle OpenWorld conference. Among them, a new pricing scheme that offers Universal Credits that can be used across its cloud services, as well as a so-called self-driving database, available to customers in December which was first announced during its earnings call last week.

One of the interesting details, particularly for enterprise cloud users who are comparing SLAs among public cloud vendors, is an SLA that guarantees Oracle Databases can run on Oracle Cloud for 50 percent less than it would cost on AWS. While Ellison pointed to vague reasons how this is possible, including that Oracle Cloud uses less compute than AWS, savvy customers may recall that in February Oracle actually increased the prices of running Oracle products on AWS – by 50 percent.

 As ITPro reported in February, the faster and cheaper promise from Oracle is nothing new.

“Faster and cheaper both remain to be seen. Faster maybe, if Oracle's SPARC cloud launches as planned and if it performs as advertised. Cheaper might be less likely. Oracle is known for playing hardball with its prices,” according to ITPro.

It seems Oracle is hoping to address this reputation with new pricing schemes that allow customers to buy Universal Credits that apply to all of Oracle Cloud products. The credits can be applied across IaaS and PaaS, and offer up to 30 percent savings over its current Pay As You Go (PAYG) pricing model. The catch is a one-year term, and a financial commitment up-front. The Universal Credits will be available starting on Monday.

While pricing seemed to be the main theme, Ellison also took the opportunity to talk about Oracle’s new self-driving database which will save customers money on labor because it is able to configure and patch itself. A database that can patch itself could save companies from becoming the next Equifax, Ellison said, because it reduces the ability for human error.

“It can’t forget to install a security patch, it can’t forget to have a disaster recovery in a different location, it can’t forget to back up all of your data at the frequency it needs to, does it all while running,” he said.

The autonomous database – available in December - also comes with an SLA. If a customer is running the autonomous database, Oracle guarantees it is up 99.995 percent of the time, which, according to Ellison, is only 30 minutes of downtime per year.

In addition, Ellison announced license mobility. According to a statement, Oracle customers are able to bring their on-premises licenses to Oracle IaaS, but the new offering enables customers to reuse their existing software licenses for Oracle PaaS, including Oracle Database, Oracle Middleware, Oracle Analytics, and others.

More details of today's announcements will be available during OpenWorld Oct. 1-5, 2017 in San Francisco.

In earnings released last week, Oracle reported a 51 percent increase in cloud-based sales during the quarter ended Aug. 31. Revenue from cloud-based apps rose 62 percent, as the part of its cloud business that includes Oracle Cloud and its databases rose 28 percent.