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

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

November 21, 2011

Some big-vendor execution questions, and why they matter

When I drafted a list of key analytics-sector issues in honor of look-ahead season, the first item was “execution of various big vendors’ ambitious initiatives”. By “execute” I mean mainly:

Vendors mentioned here are Oracle, SAP, HP, and IBM. Anybody smaller got left out due to the length of this post. Among the bigger omissions were:

Read more

September 22, 2011

HP systems soundbites

It is widely rumored that there will be a leadership change at HP (Meg Whitman in, Leo Apotheker out). In connection with that, I found myself holding forth on points such as:

September 19, 2011

Exadata Mini-Me?

It is being suggested that Oracle is about to introduce small, (relatively) cheap Exadata boxes. Key quotes include:

We estimate a price point of $100K-$200K, well below Exadata prices of $500K-$2.5M.


The whole thing sounds appealing, but I must confess that the idea of “zero-DBA” Oracle takes me aback. It might look OK at demo time, but I have trouble imagining it working in live production situations.

July 5, 2011

Eight kinds of analytic database (Part 1)

Analytic data management technology has blossomed, leading to many questions along the lines of “So which products should I use for which category of problem?” The old EDW/data mart dichotomy is hopelessly outdated for that purpose, and adding a third category for “big data” is little help.

Let’s try eight categories instead. While no categorization is ever perfect, these each have at least some degree of technical homogeneity. Figuring out which types of analytic database you have or need — and in most cases you’ll need several — is a great early step in your analytic technology planning.  Read more

June 24, 2011

Observations on Oracle pricing

A couple of months ago, Oracle asked me to pull some observations on pricing until after the earnings call that just occurred, and I grudgingly acquiesced. In the interim, more information on Oracle pricing has emerged (including in the comment thread to that post). The original notes are:

Oracle disputes some common claims about its cost and pricing. In particular, Oracle software maintenance costs a fixed 22% of your annual license price, so if you get a discount on your licenses, it ripples through to your maintenance. This is true even if you have an all-you-can-eat ULA (Unlimited License Agreement).

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