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1/27/2011
10:48 AM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Oracle Exec Says Exadata Can Do It All

Database executive Andy Mendelsohn tells financial analysts that Oracle has all the bases covered. Here's where the company stands on Exadata progress and disruptive threats to its database business.

NoSQL? No Way!

Just say no to NoSQL. That was Mendelson's basic comeback to Kash Rangan's request for a take on NoSQL versus "old school" relational databases.

"There's an interesting academic discussion around NoSQL," Mendelsohn said rather dismissively. There's "a small, marginal benefit" to some NoSQL technologies, he allowed, but with products like our Exadata Database Machine, we can scale far beyond what any customer is going to need today or for the next five to ten years."

Reality Check. See my earlier comments on proven, real-world scalability. And as for NoSQL, most deployments take on data that simply can't be handled by a relational database, like sparse data, text and other forms of unstructured content.

Mendelsohn said Oracle "doesn't see a strong need to invest a lot in [NoSQL]," yet earlier in the webcast he acknowledged that the Big Data era is going beyond the structured realm into unstructured data. IBM is investigating and investing in Hadoop by way of Big Sheets. And plenty of other database vendors are at least porting to Cloudera's deployment of Hadoop.

I hope this is just bravado meant for financial analysts who may not know better. In fact, Oracle has produced white papers on integrating Hadoop with Oracle environments, so I trust that it has a behind-the-scenes strategy to embrace NoSQL technologies.

In-Memory: Almost Forgot TimesTen

We've all heard the big claims about the possibilities for in-memory technology. So will this be disruptive to Oracle, asked Rangan?

"We're all over in-memory," Mendelsohn responded. Yes, we know the price of memory has been going down and we made the transition to 64-bit chips a couple of years ago, he said. "The ability to have big main memory under the database is obviously a major trend that we need to deal with," he added.

I'd bet he wouldn't use the words "deal with" again if he had the chance. This is supposed to be an opportunity, right?

As you might expect, Mendelsohn pointed to TimesTen, the in-memory database Oracle acquired five years ago, as an example of Oracle's in-memory prowess. He also mentioned everything Oracle is doing with Flash memory, caching, RAC cluster technology and Exadata Storage Servers.

Reality Check. TimesTen hardly ever gets mentioned by Oracle (unless it's asked about in-memory) so it doesn't seem like a centerpiece technology for the company. Oracle BIEE lacks in-memory analysis capabilities while most of the major BI competitors have introduced and are ramping up their use of this approach.

Oracle can certainly do a lot to enhance performance between Exadata, flash memory, caching and other techniques and technologies. But I'm far from alone in wondering why Oracle hasn't done more with in-memory.

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