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7/30/2014
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Oracle Says Database Upgrade Doesn't Enable In-Memory Option

Oracle insists latest database release doesn't enable a costly in-memory option, countering claims by an ex-Oracle-employee and database blogger.

16 NoSQL, NewSQL Databases To Watch
16 NoSQL, NewSQL Databases To Watch
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The 12.1.0.2 release of Oracle Database released last week doesn't enable the vendor's new, $23,000-per-CPU In-Memory option.

That's Oracle's response to a blog published last week by former Oracle engineer Kevin Closson, who claimed that the feature is automatically enabled and all too easy to use "accidentally." Closson's claims were widely reported last week, including by InformationWeek, but Oracle didn't respond to those reports (and multiple requests for comment from InformationWeek) until this week.

Oracle's Monday blog post, titled "Getting started with Oracle Database In-Memory," explains that the feature is installed automatically with the latest release because it's an intrinsic part of the database, "not a bolt-on technology," writes Maria Colgan, master product manager of the feature. But enabling the option requires a deliberate, two-step process, she explains.

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"Six new initialization parameters with the INMEMORY prefix have been introduced to directly control the different aspects of the new in-memory functionality," Colgan writes. "One of these parameters, INMEMORY_SIZE, determine[s] if In-Memory is enabled."

Colgan doesn't acknowledge Closson's analysis directly in her post, but she promotes the post on Google+, writing: "I posted a new blog explaining when In-Memory is installed, enabled & used, just in case @kevinclosson has you totally confused."

Maria Colgan's Google+ page describes her blog post on the Oracle Database In-Memory option as a response to Kevin Closson's reports.
Maria Colgan's Google+ page describes her blog post on the Oracle Database In-Memory option as a response to Kevin Closson's reports.

Indeed, Closson has turned out four posts on the feature, including a Monday response to Colgan's blog that maintains that "you can trigger In-Memory Column Store feature usage with the default INMEMORY_* parameter settings."

The flap comes amid rising software audit activity by vendors and increasing licensing complexity, as practitioners deploy more multi-core processors and virtualization technologies. Confusion is only mounting for software managers as they try to align what they have installed with exactly what they're entitled to use according to contracts.

Customers often face "true up" fees and penalties after software audits, whether they're using the features in question or not, according to Dawson Stoops, co-founder and VP of Express Metrix, a software asset management system vendor.

"Compliance is not based on usage of applications. It's based on installation," Stoops said during a recent InformationWeek audio cast titled "How To Survive A Software Audit. In the case of Oracle Database In-Memory, it's a feature that you "can't unlink or choose not to install," Colgan writes in her blog.

“Oracle customers cannot cite blog posts when being audited," cautioned Mark Flynn, CEO of the Campaign for Clear Licensing, a UK-based organization that's championing improvements in software licensing and auditing practices. "Oracle may be suggesting you only need to pay for [Database In-Memory] if you activate it, yet typical Oracle contracts state it will be based on being installed and running."

Flynn said organizations should take steps to ensure that they minimize their exposure to unplanned software spending and audit penalties by, among other steps, educating their Oracle DBAs on the consequences of their actions and ensuring that agreed-upon compliance measures and metrics are embedded into contracts.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
7/30/2014 | 4:12:39 PM
Reader comments that options shouldn't be treated like features
Reader Dave Schmidt submitted the following comment via email:

Based on the passage below (underlined words my emphasis), Oracle is putting it to customers. What they are describing is a feature disabled for marketing purposes, not an option.

Oracle's Monday blog post, titled "Getting started with Oracle Database In-Memory," explains that the feature is installed automatically with the latest release because it's an intrinsic part of the database, "not a bolt-on technology," writes Maria Colgan, master product manager of the feature. But enabling the option requires a deliberate, two-step process, she explains. All opinions expressed here are personal. -- Dave Schmidt

gxs11
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gxs11,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/30/2014 | 2:43:15 PM
It is all about defaults.
The pointof the article is that Oracle says the default on the latest upgrade leaves the In-Memory option off. Having been both a Technical Consultant and a Design Architect, I am aware of how poorly developers tend to set defaults in terms of performance. With application software such stupid, inefficient defaults often fall through the cracks and an application succeeds with customers in spite of it. With databases, the DBA and Data Architect are expected to be knowledgeable enough and sufficiently detail oriented to address such matters.

When one considers how cheap memory has become, it is amazing that it has takes so long for this to be implemented. Hana is one of the reasons SAP has been so successful.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
7/30/2014 | 12:34:45 PM
Re: Oracle is Very Late to the Game on this Concept
What you say about IBM's CICS technology may be true, but IBM only recently added in-memory technology to its flagship DB2 database by way of the BLU Acceleration for DB2 feature, introduced in 2013. I'm fairly certain it's an extra-cost option. BLU acceleration applies only to analytic querying, not transactional performance.

Oracle Database In-Memory applies acceleration to selected analytical queries, and if you can eliminate query indexes, you can also accelerate transactional performance by two to four times, according to Oracle. SAP's Hana In-Memory Database runs entirely in memory, not just against selected tables or partitions, and improves transactional and analytical performance. Microsoft's In-Memory OLAP feature for SQL Server 2014 applies only to transactional perfomance.
gxs11
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gxs11,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/30/2014 | 12:24:26 PM
Oracle is Very Late to the Game on this Concept
Data-In-Memory use started with Local Shared Resources in the late 1970's under CICS (IBM's interactive online program originally developed for NASA). I did work making it available for batch processing in 1985-6. My point is that this is an old concept and Oracle is very late in introducing it. Charging a hefty license fee for it is outrageous.
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