By acquiring DATAllegro, Microsoft has seriously leapfrogged Oracle in data warehouse technology. All doubts about maturity and versatility notwithstanding, DATAllegro has a 10X or better size advantage (actually, I think it’s more like 20-40X) versus Oracle in warehouses its technology can straightforwardly handle. Oracle cannot afford to let this move go unanswered.
It’s of course possible that Oracle has been successfully developing comparable data warehouse technology internally. But it’s unlikely. Oracle hasn’t done anything that radical, internally and successfully, for about 15 years, RAC (Real Application Clusters) excepted. (I.e., since the object/relational extensibility framework started in Release 7.) So in all likelihood, the answer will come via acquisition. I think there are four candidates that make the most sense: Teradata, Vertica, ParAccel, and Greenplum. Kognitio (controlled by former Oracle honcho Geoff Squire) might be in the mix as well. Netezza is probably a non-starter because of its hardware-centric strategy.
Here’s why I’m emphasizing Teradata, Vertica, ParAccel, and Greenplum:
Teradata is the long-time market leader in high-end data warehousing. It would be no embarrassment for Oracle to, in connection with an acquisition, admit this. It also has the most mature and versatile product of any of the alternatives. Teradata is close to being a software-only solution; i.e., it’s not hardware-centric enough to be a problem. While Teradata would be expensive, Oracle could afford it. However, there are tax issues blocking an acquisition too soon after the 2007 spin-out; I don’t recall exactly how long it is before an acquisition would be realistic.
Other than Teradata, Vertica would offer the most marketing pizzazz. Database legend Mike Stonebraker and lesser legend/former Oracle honcho Jerry Held have both declared that Vertica is the future, because it’s columnar. Saying “Yes, those guys were right” would be a pretty straightforward and effective marketing strategy. What’s more, it would be possible to pitch columnar as trumping Microsoft/DATAllegro’s (and Netezza’s) better-row-store offering.
ParAccel also offers the advantages of columnar. Its “Amigo” mode lets it play nicely with OLTP DBMS. And since it originally focused on the SQL Server market and hasn’t won a lot of customers, ParAccel might come relatively cheap.
Greenplum’s technology is sort of an MPPization of a general-purpose relational DBMS (PostgreSQL). Porting that to Oracle would be much harder than DATAllegro’s Ingres-to-SQL-Server porting task, but it should be doable.