Oracle accelerates database and cloud strategy

Tim Jennings, Chief Analyst & Research Fellow, Enterprise IT

Oracle’s September 2013 customer event was notable for a series of announcements designed to help the company’s customers improve the speed and agility of their information systems. The flagship news revolved around Oracle’s core competence of database technology, with forthcoming releases of an in-memory option for Oracle Database 12c that promises to significantly speed up analytic queries, and of an enterprise-grade Database as a Service (DBaaS) offering, part of the Oracle Public Cloud. The latter is reaching a new level of maturity, assisted by the acquisition earlier in 2013 of cloud infrastructure specialist Nimbula.

One of the dominant themes of the conference was machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), and here Oracle is positioning its Java technology as an end-to-end platform for solution development. It also announced an upcoming new version of its Java as a Service offering, which again provides enterprise-grade development capabilities in the Oracle Public Cloud. These headlines were further supported by new engineered systems for in-memory computing and for database backup, and by good progress across many areas of the product portfolio.

In-memory database goes mainstream

Building on the recent launch of Oracle Database 12c, including its features for multi-tenancy, Oracle announced a new in-memory option for its flagship database. This augments the traditional row-based storage of data with a column-based store that is created entirely in-memory, either on database load or on first use. This in-memory column store dramatically accelerates analytical queries, with Oracle claiming and demonstrating up to 100× speed improvement for some queries.

While Oracle acknowledges that it is not the first company to utilize in-memory database technology, it contends that it can deliver high performance for both OLTP and analytical workloads from the same database. Most importantly for clients, it will deliver these benefits for existing applications, without requiring any changes. Considering that Oracle is the market leader in the enterprise database segment, Ovum believes that this will quickly propel in-memory technology into mainstream adoption.

To take advantage of these new capabilities, Oracle announced a new engineered system – the Oracle Big Memory machine – based on a SPARC T6 processor, with up to 384 CPU cores, and 32TB of DRAM main memory. Rounding out the hardware announcements was the Oracle Database Backup Logging Recovery Appliance, optimized to carry out incremental backups of large numbers of databases.

Oracle Public Cloud is growing in maturity

As with several of its competitors, Oracle’s evolution of its public cloud has been an iterative process, carried out in the public eye. This reflects both the technical challenges of creating a truly elastic ICT service, and the need to react to customer adoption patterns and priorities in areas such as security, data center location, billing models, and standards. The company’s acquisition of Nimbula in March 2013 brought with it some of the architects responsible for the Amazon Web Services cloud, and this is now beginning to show in more robust underpinnings for the Oracle Public Cloud at an infrastructure and management level, and in a clearer roadmap at all levels of the cloud stack.

OpenWorld saw the announcement of a new DBaaS offering, with each tenant receiving templates for virtual machines that contain pre-configured instances of Oracle Database 12c or Oracle Database 11g R2, and options for three levels of service, from basic, to managed, to maximum availability. Ovum believes that this enterprise-grade service defines a new standard for database in the cloud, and will particularly appeal to existing customers wanting to extend their solutions into a cloud delivery model.

Oracle DBaaS was backed up by a raft of further announcements and enhancements for the Oracle Public Cloud, including Java as a Service, revamped Infrastructure as a Service offerings, a comprehensive strategy for Platform as a Service, and the observation that Oracle’s Software as a Service portfolio is one of the most complete available, and already serves 21 million users, spread over 10,000 companies. Ovum notes that the Oracle Public Cloud has been designed to appeal primarily to existing Oracle customers, and that this increased maturity will enable it to meet the growing demand from its target audience.

Enterprises should include M2M on their IT planning horizon

Looking a little further forward, Oracle also put a significant stake in the ground to take a share of the growing market based on M2M/IoT technology, where a plethora of sensors in physical goods, high value assets, and the built and natural environments, is enabling a new generation of automated business processes and analytical applications. Oracle believes that Java has the capability to provide an end-to-end M2M platform, being suited for running on very small devices to large gateways, as well as underpinning many complex enterprise-scale software projects. Although the M2M market is still evolving, Ovum believes that this will be a rapid process, and that those enterprises not already building these applications should include M2M strategy as part of their medium-term planning.

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