Analysis of Oracle Exadata and the Oracle Database Machine. Related subjects include:

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: Read more

September 7, 2012

Integrated internet system design

What are the central challenges in internet system design? We probably all have similar lists, comprising issues such as scale, scale-out, throughput, availability, security, programming ease, UI, or general cost-effectiveness. Screw those up, and you don’t have an internet business.

Much new technology addresses those challenges, with considerable success. But the success is usually one silo at a time — a short-request application here, an analytic database there. When it comes to integration, unsolved problems abound.

The top integration and integration-like challenges for me, from a practical standpoint, are:

Other concerns that get mentioned include:

Let’s skip those latter issues for now, focusing instead on the first four.

Read more

August 19, 2012

Data warehouse appliance — analytic glossary draft entry

This is a draft entry for the DBMS2 analytic glossary. Please comment with any ideas you have for its improvement!

Note: Words and phrases in italics will be linked to other entries when the glossary is complete.

A data warehouse appliance is a combination of hardware and software that includes an analytic DBMS (DataBase Management System). However, some observers incorrectly apply the term “data warehouse appliance” to any analytic DBMS.

The paradigmatic vendors of data warehouse appliances are:

Further, vendors of analytic DBMS commonly offer — directly or through partnerships — optional data warehouse appliance configurations; examples include:

Oracle Exadata is sometimes regarded as a data warehouse appliance as well, despite not being solely focused on analytic use cases.

Data warehouse appliances inherit marketing claims from the category of analytic DBMS, such as: Read more

August 7, 2012

Notes on some basic database terminology

In a call Monday with a prominent company, I was told:

That, to put it mildly, is not accurate. So I shall try, yet again, to set the record straight.

In an industry where people often call a DBMS just a “database” — so that a database is something that manages a database! — one may wonder why I bother. Anyhow …

1. The products commonly known as Oracle, Exadata, DB2, Sybase, SQL Server, Teradata, Sybase IQ, Netezza, Vertica, Greenplum, Aster, Infobright, SAND, ParAccel, Exasol, Kognitio et al. all either are or incorporate relational database management systems, aka RDBMS or relational DBMS.

2. In principle, there can be difficulties in judging whether or not a DBMS is “relational”. In practice, those difficulties don’t arise — yet. Every significant DBMS still falls into one of two categories:

*I expect the distinction to get more confusing soon, at which point I’ll adopt terms more precise than “relational things” and “relational stuff”.

3. There are two chief kinds of relational DBMS: Read more

July 25, 2012

Thoughts on the next releases of Oracle and Exadata

A reporter asked me to speculate about the next releases of Oracle and Exadata. He and I agreed:

My answers mixed together thoughts on what Oracle should and will emphasize (which aren’t the same thing but hopefully bear some relationship to each other ;)). They were (lightly edited):

July 25, 2012

The eternal bogosity of performance marketing

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:

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:

And so, vendor marketing claims about across-the-board performance should be viewed with the utmost of suspicion.

Related links

March 21, 2012

Comments on Oracle’s third quarter 2012 earnings call

Various reporters have asked me about Oracle’s third quarter 2012 earnings conference call. Specific Q&A includes:

What did Oracle do to have its earnings beat Wall Street’s estimates?

Have a bad second quarter and then set Wall Street’s expectations too low for Q3. This isn’t about strong results; it’s about modest expectations.

Can Oracle be a leader in both hardware and software?

Beyond that, please see below.

What about Oracle in the cloud?

MySQL is an important cloud supplier. But Oracle overall hasn’t demonstrated much understanding of what cloud technology and business are all about. An expensive SaaS acquisition here or there could indeed help somewhat, but it seems as if Oracle still has a very long way to go.

Other comments

Other comments on the call, whose transcript is available, include: Read more

March 16, 2012

Juggling analytic databases

I’d like to survey a few related ideas:

Here goes. Read more

February 8, 2012

Comments on the analytic DBMS industry and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for same

This year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems is out.* I shall now comment, just as I did on the 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 Gartner Data Warehouse Database Management System Magic Quadrants, to varying extents. To frame the discussion, let me start by saying:

*As of February, 2012 — and surely for many months thereafter — Teradata is graciously paying for a link to the report.

Specific company comments, roughly in line with Gartner’s rough single-dimensional rank ordering, include: Read more

January 8, 2012

Big data terminology and positioning

Recently, I observed that Big Data terminology is seriously broken. It is reasonable to reduce the subject to two quasi-dimensions:

given that

But the conflation should stop there.

*Low-volume/high-velocity problems are commonly referred to as “event processing” and/or “streaming”.

When people claim that bigness and structure are the same issue, they oversimplify into mush. So I think we need four pieces of terminology, reflective of a 2×2 matrix of possibilities. For want of better alternatives, my suggestions are:

Read more

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