October 1, 2012

Notes on the Oracle OpenWorld Sunday keynote

I’m not at Oracle OpenWorld, but as usual that won’t keep me from commenting. My bottom line on the first night’s announcements is:

In particular:

1. At the highest level, my view of Oracle’s strategy is the same as it’s been for several years:

Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Solution teaches us that Oracle should focus on selling a thick stack of technology to its highest-end customers, and that’s exactly what Oracle does focus on.

2. Tonight’s news is closely in line with what Oracle’s Juan Loaiza told me three years ago, especially:

  • Oracle thinks flash memory is the most important hardware technology of the decade, one that could lead to Oracle being “bumped off” if they don’t get it right.
  • Juan believes the “bulk” of Oracle’s business will move over to Exadata-like technology over the next 5-10 years. Numbers-wise, this seems to be based more on Exadata being a platform for consolidating an enterprise’s many Oracle databases than it is on Exadata running a few Especially Big Honking Database management tasks.

3. Oracle is confusing people with its comments on multi-tenancy. I suspect:

4. SaaS (Software as a Service) vendors don’t want to use Oracle, because they don’t want to pay for it.* This limits the potential impact of Oracle’s true multi-tenancy features. Even so:

*I repeatedly get SaaS vendor clients who have outgrown Oracle Standard Edition and really don’t want to pay up for Enterprise Edition or Exadata.

5. Oracle is saying confusing things about memory as well, adding the 4 TB of RAM and 22 the TB of flash in an Exadata X3 rack and calling them 26 TB of “memory.”

6. If I understand correctly, Oracle 12c will be able to write straight to Exadata’s flash storage. This is an obvious and welcome development.

I think Merv Adrian welcomes it even more than I do. 🙂

7. Apparently:

8. I suspect that Oracle makes efficient use of flash but not of RAM. One reason I think this is the exceedingly rough “analysis”:

Another reason is the sense I get from many DBMS vendors that moving from disk to flash doesn’t require great rewriting, while moving from disk to RAM does.

Of course, even inefficient use of RAM is blazingly fast, when compared to disk.

9. I gather that Oracle will not introduce true columnar storage with 12c. This is a major competitive disadvantage vs. the independent analytic RDBMS industry.

10. And finally, I get to Oracle’s cloud/on-premises cloud/IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)/PaaS (Platform as a Service) pitch.


9 Responses to “Notes on the Oracle OpenWorld Sunday keynote”

  1. Milan Merhar on October 1st, 2012 8:24 am

    Actually, there are two ways Flash memory can be integrated into storage systems. The first (and easiest) is to treat it as SSD, accessing it as blocks via e.g. Fibre Channel. Relatively few code changes to do, but you’re still running up and down the data->file->volume->block stack.

    You can also treat Flash as memory, such as with Fusion-IO and its PCI-E cards. No blocks, just an address space with asymmetric read/write latencies. But, much more work fitting into legacy code.

    Which model they presume probably has a great effect on the kinds of answers you’re getting from vendors.

  2. Curt Monash on October 1st, 2012 11:15 am


    I was being more handwavy than that.

    Anyhow, I lean to the PCIe theory, as of course does Oracle, at least for cases that don’t need the I/O bandwidth to do table scans. (Teradata is going SSD, as per some of my previous posts.)

  3. Aaron on October 1st, 2012 1:10 pm

    Oracle already allowed writing to SSD as disk (and for large buffer swapping.) The change seems to be an attempt to use flash as tiered storage where the optimizer understands both the device speed and speed of random access in determining access paths.

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  5. Curt Monash on October 3rd, 2012 5:13 pm


    Good comments in a couple of threads. Thanks!


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