Oracle Database is the world’s most popular enterprise database. This year’s addition of autonomous operating capabilities to the cloud version of Oracle Database is one of the most important advances in the database’s history. What does it mean for a database to be “autonomous?” Let’s look under the covers of Oracle Autonomous Database to show just a few of the ways it does that.

Oracle Autonomous Database is a fully managed cloud service. Like all cloud services, the database runs on servers in cloud data centers—in this case, on hardware called Oracle Exadata Database Machine that’s specifically designed and tuned for high-performance, high-availability workloads. The tightly controlled and optimized hardware enables some of the autonomous functionality we’ll discuss shortly.

While the autonomous capability of Oracle Autonomous Database is new, it builds on scores of automation features that Oracle has been building into its Oracle database software and the Exadata database hardware for years. The goals of the autonomous functions are twofold: First, to lower operating costs by reducing costly and tedious manual administration, and second, to improve service levels through automation and fewer human errors.

My essay in Forbes, “What Makes Oracle Autonomous Database Truly ‘Autonomous,’” shows of how the capabilities in Oracle Autonomous Database change the game for database administrators (DBAs). The benefits: DBAs are freed them from mundane tasks and letting them focus on higher-value work.