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Oracle 12c Database and How It Relates to SAP Hana

12c suite of products tries to hit multiple targets - Cloud, in-memory database, preserve legacy revenue

Oracle 12c database and related suite of products are just released. Columnar, compressed, high-speed, in-memory database to directly compete with SAP Hana is what is promised in the next release of Oracle 12c database. What we got so far is the familiar giant hairball that grew bigger.

In order to currently achieve  Oracle's version of the  holy grail of cloud, in-memory, columnar, compressed, clustered services you must purchase, integrate and manage a variety of Oracle products: 12c database, Exadata software and hardware, TimesTen database, Oracle Clusterware, ASM etc.

Oracle 12c database offers radical departure from previous versions by introducing multi-tenant, pluggable database architecture, Flex ASM and Flex Clusters, which all together contribute to Oracle's cloud vision.

12c  indeed makes it easier to create new databases from templates, navigate between databases (containers in new parlance); it introduces many incremental enhancements to optimizer, manageability. The quality of software and documentation is traditionally high.

Overall impression is that in trying to achieve necessary balance between customers and Oracle's own needs scale is tilting more and more to the Oracle side. Weight of the legacy software is probably one of major reasons why Oracle is lagging behind in introducing next (or even current) generation advances in database technology.

In its core 12c is still disk based Oracle database originating back to 70s. It is not an in-memory database where primary data store is DRAM. SAP Hana, on the other hand,  offers true in-memory, MPP, columnar database. In-memory part of Oracle claim relates to TimesTen database ( separate Oracle product, purchased couple of years ago ), that can be used either as a standalone or cache database, while main store is still disk based  Oracle database. Although Oracle and TimesTen databases databases are becoming more integrated, they are still separate products, and there are severe limitations in structure and size of  data that can be stored or cached ( with all negative consequences of having multiple copies of data in case of caching). SAP Hana was also created by merging two separate database products, but presents unique interface to the end user i.e. it looks and feels like single (albeit slightly immature) product.

As unbelievable as it initially seemed, SAP Hana actually might have a shot at core Oracle database business. Oracle database business is obviously slowed down and open to disruption by tremendous weight of trying to juggle multiple agendas - preserving revenues from legacy software, trying to sell hardware etc. Next release of Oracle 12c database (no timeline yet) is supposed to prevent that from happening. We might see further integration and merging  of Oracle and TimesTen databases, which will perhaps become a single product. There is no doubt that Oracle will deliver on its promise, it is only matter of time before it catches up with competition, but days when we looked up to Oracle for state of the art database technology are obviously long gone.

More Stories By Ranko Mosic

Ranko Mosic, BScEng, is specializing in Big Data/Data Architecture consulting services ( database/data architecture, machine learning ). His clients are in finance, retail, telecommunications industries. Ranko is welcoming inquiries about his availability for consulting engagements and can be reached at 408-757-0053 or [email protected]

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