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7/15/2010
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Bob Evans
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Global CIO: In Database Wars, Oracle Blasts Microsoft And IBM

As real-time and Big Data pressures mount and CIOs need advanced databases to keep up, Oracle claims 11g is 5-10 years ahead of IBM and Microsoft. First in a series.

"We pride ourselves on being very innovative in the database business—the way we measure ourselves is that in each of these areas, we're about 5 to 10 years ahead of Microsoft and IBM," Mendelsohn said. "So, for example, RAC and ASM: we came out with that in 2001. Microsoft still has nothing, IBM has just announced they have something they think kinda/sorta works for OLTP—they call it PureScale—but they have no customers yet or anything, and it took them 9 years to do that. So they're 9 years behind, and Microsoft is unmeasurably behind.

"Then there's Exadata: IBM has nothing like Exadata. Microsoft is about to come out with something—they call it a parallel data warehouse—it does parallel data warehousing. Exadata does everything: data warehousing, OLTP, consolidation, you name it. Again, years ahead of them—we'll see how long it takes for them to do that.

"In storage, our compression technology is very unique: IBM has nothing like it, Microsoft has nothing like it, so I can't tell you how many years behind they are on that one.

"Active Data Guard: they don't have that either," Mendelsohn said.

"So it's a very easy story: ask IBM how long it'll take them to do each of these things. And, you know, Microsoft is very good at this, and they'll eventually do it—although I don't think they're ever gonna do RAC [Real Application Cluster]—that they seem not to be capable of. They'll do something like the data warehouse appliance part of Exadata, and they'll do some compression eventually."

And then Mendelsohn delivered what he believes is the knockout blow:

"If IT's an important part of your business and you want to be ahead of your competitors, then you can go with Oracle and do that, or you can go with Microsoft or IBM and be 5-10 years behind, and if that's good enough for you, then that's okay."

No question that's a good line, and one that'll give customers pause at least until they hear from IBM and Microsoft and get those companies' perspectives on the multi-year lead Oracle claims to have.

But for me, Mendelsohn's best line was when he described why all those advanced database technologies—which until recently were nice to have—are becoming indispensable as we move into the age of real-time, Big-Data opportunity machines.

"From a business standpoint, this is the real key: things that took hours are now taking seconds," he said. "Which means, things that were forbidden to be run against the database in the past, now can get answers back in a very short time.

"They were forbidden in the past because running these big, complex queries could bring the system down for days. So a telco could analyze a new rate plan against a query of the last five years of history—in the past, that would just be forbidden, and you'd have to settle for looking at the last two months, or maybe 6 months. Now, you can get much better answers by looking at more of the data.

"Our customers are collecting more data, but until now they haven't been able to analyze it all—but with this Exadata box, they can look at pretty much whatever they want."

As for Oracle's intriguing new Exadata Database Machine, which we wrote about in detail earlier this week, Mendelsohn described it as "an idealized delivery platform" for Oracle's 11g database, so we can probably expect to see similar optimized systems coming out for IBM's DB2 and Microsoft's SQL Server tools.

Because in the age of real-time Big Data, it's no longer enough just to have the pieces—that was fine in the days of the passive storage tanks being filled with never-ending volumes of stuff that would just sit there. No, in today's world of IT as opportunity machine, the game is about integrated and optimized systems that are more than capable of handling the data explosion—and Oracle believes it's well ahead of its competitors on that and other fronts.

Surely those competitors see the world differently, and we'll hear from them soon as this series continues.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Global CIO: Microsoft Joins Oracle & IBM In Rise Of The Machines

Global CIO: Oracle Reveals Strategy And Customers For White-Hot Exadata

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's IBM-Slayer Is Oracle Exadata Machine

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's Hardware Boasts Are Nonsense, Says IBM

Global CIO: Oracle's Phillips Says Standardizing On Oracle Is The IT Cure

Global CIO: Oracle President Phillips Says 22% Annual Fees Great For CIOs

Global CIO: Oracle's Larry Ellison Declares War On IBM And SAP

Global CIO: Why Oracle's Earnings Will Improve With Sun

Global CIO: IBM Claims Hardware Supremacy And Calls Out HP's Hurd

Global CIO: Oracle Needs More Than Talk To Beat IBM's Systems

Global CIO: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's Top 10 Reasons For Buying Sun

Global CIO: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison On The Future Of IT

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at bevans@techweb.com.

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