Huawei is about to unveil an AI-powered rival to Oracle databases that an analyst calls the ‘first salvo in US-Chinese database wars’ (ORCL, MSFT, IBM)


Ren Zhengfei

  • Huawei on Wednesday will introduce a new AI-powered database system powered by ARM chips.
  • An analyst called the move "the first salvo in the US-Chinese database wars."
  • Huawei is at the center of an international drama – the rollout comes two days after Huawei's embattled CFO sent a defiant letter thanking employees for their support as she fights extradition to the US. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As Huawei finds itself at the center of an international drama, the Chinese tech giant is unveiling a new AI-powered database in what one analyst describes as the "first salvo in the US-China database wars."

Huawei on Wednesday will introduce what it says is "the world's first AI-native database," the company said in an email inviting media to the launch.

The product marks the company's "move from focusing on hardware business only to hardware + software ones," Huawei said, adding the system will run on ARM chips — a rival to those made by Intel, and the dominant standard in smartphones  — and will be the "the world's first ARM-based enterprise database system."

The Huawei database is a win for chipmaker ARM. A major player in the mobile microprocessor market, ARM is working to expand in the enterprise tech arena, including data center hardware like servers, which is dominated by Intel.

" This is legitimate competition," Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. told Business Insider. "But most likely it will not have a major impact on Intel, unless Huawei gains large backing for their solution."  

The move highlights Huawei's increasingly aggressive positioning in key areas of tech where it's already going head- to-head with US giants such as Cisco and Apple.

The company is ranked second place behind Cisco, in the telecom service provider router and Ethernet switch markets, according to IDC. Recently, it passed Apple as the world's second-biggest smartphone vendor behind Samsung.

"Huawei is building more software as they see the long term limitations in hardware," Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang told Business Insider. He called Huawei's move the "first salvo in the US-China database wars," even though the Chinese tech powerhouse faces an uphill climb against its American rivals.

The $33 billion database market is dominated by other US behemoths led by Oracle, which has 42% of the market, followed by Microsoft, with 24%, and IBM with 13%, according to IDC.

IDC analyst Carl Olofson said AI appears to be a key element in Huawei's strategy. "It looks like Huawei is upping the game in the AI area with respect to integrated database support," he told Business Insider. "The impact on the general market worldwide is likely to be minimal at first, but as Huawei's influence grows beyond Asia, this could be a key differentiator."

However, Bajarin said there are "risks and challenges" in banking on AI, given growing worries the technology can be used for "nefarious purposes."

" It is positive for Huawei's business but they must assure customers and prove to them that this is clean AI code and they have safeguards to keep it clean at all levels," he told Business Insider.

Huawei in the spotlight

In fact, Huawei's bid to expand may have been hampered by allegations of spying and violations of US laws — charges that the company and the Chinese government have denounced as unfair and politically-motivated .

Huawei's database rollout follows the latest twist in the case of CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is currently fighting extradition from Canada to the United States. Meng is the daughter of Huawei CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei.

Meng was indicted by the US in January, claiming she covered up the company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran, in violation of US trade sanctions. Meng and Huawei deny any wrongdoing.

On Monday, Meng  sent a letter to Huawei's 188,000 employees, saying, "M y inner self has never felt so colorful and vast."

"You concern has warmed my heart and your support has filled me with power," she also said.

Got a tip about Huawei, Oracle or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], message him on Twitter @benpimentel, or send him a secure message through Signal at 510.731.8428. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

 

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Tags: Apple, Asia, Microsoft, US, Trends, Cisco, Iran, Intel, Earth, Canada, Ibm, Thanos, Huawei, Idc, US China, Ray Wang, Meng, Constellation Research, Samsung Huawei, IDC IDC, Bajarin, Tim Bajarin, Carl Olofson, Meng Wanzhou, Business Insider Huawei, Creative Strategies Inc, ORCL MSFT IBM, United States Meng, Ren Zhengfei Meng, Huawei Oracle

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