In his keynote speech marking the opening of the annual Oracle OpenWorld event, company chief Larry Ellision laid out his plans to dominate the burgeoning in-memory computing sector with a new option for its flagship 12c database software, together with a clutch of new products designed to speed up data flows across the web and corporate data centers.
Simply called the "In-memory option", Oracle's latest upgrade to its database product delivers "ungodly" improvements to performance, claimed Ellison during his keynote. The In-memory option is designed to target both transactional and analytical workloads, and is being introduced alongside two new hardware products and a brand new cloud service.
The new products are part of Oracle's plan to do the "same thing to the data center that Apple did to consumers," something that he announced last year when defending the company's 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems. At the time, Ellison brushed off concerns about the steady decline in Oracle's hardware sales, saying that this was all part of the plan -- rather than focus on low-margin hardware, the idea is to create "purpose-built machines," or appliances, to run Oracle's database software, just as Apple's software only runs on its own smartphones and tablets.
Oracle's 12c Database In-memory Option
It's no secret that Oracle was planning to make an in-memory announcement at OpenWorld, but until yesterday we were quite sketchy on the details. According to Ellision, the new upgrade will give Oracle 12c database users a speed boost of around "100 times faster" at the flip of a switch:
"When you put data in memory, one of the reasons you do that is to make it go faster," Ellison said Sunday. "Oracle had a goal of 100 times faster queries for analytics and a doubling in throughput for transaction processing with the in-memory option."
Analytics will be much faster when the system users a column-based store, while transactions run more efficiently while in a row-store database, Ellison said. With the in-memory upgrade, Oracle Database 12c now stores data in both formats simultaneously, while the information is kept consistent:
"When you update one you always update the other. The data is consistent between those two formats. There's actually very little overhead in maintaining the column store in-memory in addition to Oracle's traditional row store.
Just as important is the ease in which users will be able to switch on the in-memory option:
"You say how much memory you want to use in the computer, tell me what partitions or tables to be in memory, and drop your analytic indexes. Queries run 100 times faster and updates, inserts run two, three times faster," Ellison added.
"Flip a switch and all of your applications run much, much faster. Every application you wrote, every application you bought, runs without a single change."
Oracle's 12c database was unveiled at its OpenWorld conference last year, primarly designed as a cloud computing tool, with customers including Salesforce.com, Wikipedia and Yahoo. It's also been designed for large enterprises that wish to build "private clouds," essentially a cloud located within the company's own servers.
While the 12c database has proven popular, Oracle's main challenge is the threat it faces from rival firm SAP. As I pointed out in last week's preview, the problem is that many companies running Oracle's database do so together with SAP software -- something that's given SAP the opportunity to try and yank customers away from Oracle and instead sell them on its own HANA in-memory database. The in-memory option is Oracle's long-awaited answer to this, aimed at convincing its customers not to ditch its database.
Hardware & Cloud Add-Ons
Besides the in-memory option, Ellision introduced a couple of fancy hardware products to support it, as well as a new cloud-based backup and recovery service that should strengthen its overall database offering.
First up was its new M6-32 Big Memory Machine, a chunky new server designed especially to run the 12c database. It comes with a massive 32 terabytes of memory, giving enterprises the option of storing all of, or just a part of their database inside it. Ellision says that the advantage of doing so is great -- it'll make the database much faster as the server won't be slowed down by "input/output" (I/O), nor will it need to grab data from separate storage drives attached to the main server.
Oracle's second hardware offering is its "Oracle Database Backup Logging Recovery Appliance," which is simply a backup to the main database. Should any disasters strike, users will be able to restore all of their data using this appliance.
Keynote Coverage, Oracle OpenWorld 2013 with John Furrier and Dave Vellante