Chris Kanaracus uncovered a case of Oracle actually pulling an ad after having been found “guilty” of false advertising. The essence seems to be that Oracle claimed 20X hardware performance vs. IBM, based on a comparison done against 6 year old hardware running an earlier version of the Oracle DBMS. My quotes in the article were:
- “Everybody’s guilty of that kind of exaggeration.”
- “Oracle tends to be even a little guiltier than others.”
- “If your new system can’t outperform somebody else’s old system by a huge factor on at least some queries, you’re doing something wrong.”
- “Use newer, better hardware; use newer, better software; have a top sales engineer do a great job of tuning it and of course you’ll see huge performance results.”
Another example of Oracle exaggeration was around the Exadata replacement of Teradata at Softbank. But the bogosity flows both ways. Netezza used to make a flat claim of 50X better performance than Oracle, while Vertica’s standard press release boilerplate long boasted
50x-1000x faster performance at 30% the cost of traditional solutions
Of course, reality is a lot more complicated. Even if you assume apples-to-apples comparisons in terms of hardware and software versions, performance comparisons can vary greatly depending upon queries, databases, or use cases. For example:
- Many queries are inherently much faster over columnar storage than over row-based.
- Different data sets respond very differently to various compression algorithms.
- Some analytic RDBMS can maintain strong performance at high levels of concurrent usage. Some can’t.
- Some queries that run very fast on one DBMS without tuning might require careful tuning in another system.
- Some DBMS scale out much better than others.
- Vendors optimize for different usage assumptions, which may or may not apply in your particular case.
And so, vendor marketing claims about across-the-board performance should be viewed with the utmost of suspicion.