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:
- At many large enterprises, Oracle has a lock on much of their IT efforts. (But not necessarily in the internet or investigative analytics areas.) Tonight’s announcements serve to strengthen that.
- Tonight’s announcements do little to help Oracle in other market segments.
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:
- What Oracle is talking about when it says “multi-tenancy” is more like consolidation than true multi-tenancy.
- Probably there are a couple of true multi-tenancy features as well.
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:
- A few SaaS vendors may be so locked into Oracle that they just go with the flow.
- Ditto a few vendors of traditional application software, who want to expand into SaaS.
- Ditto a few enterprises who develop captive SaaS offerings.
*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.
- Oracle has ringingly endorsed a move from disk to semiconductor storage.
- It hasn’t, however, taken a strong position on flash vs. RAM.
8. I suspect that Oracle makes efficient use of flash but not of RAM. One reason I think this is the exceedingly rough “analysis”:
- Storage when Oracle was designed: Fairly fast random I/O (relative to CPU)
- Spinning disk today: Slow random I/O
- Flash today: Fairly fast random I/O
- RAM today: Very fast random I/O
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.
- I think it’s good for on-premises customers who want to move to the cloud some day.
- I think it’s good for customers small enough to want to be in the cloud who want the option of coming inhouse some day.
- I doubt it will prove cost-competitive with mass-market cloud providers.