The Oracle Non-Database?

Well, that was unexpected... Oracle has always been the gold standard for relational databases, but they are now throwing their hat in the "BIG DATA" ring with their new appliance... this "BIG DATA" stuff is also sometimes called NoSQL.

What's NoSQL? It's a software designed to manage very large data sets as key-value pairs, instead of in a relational database. Think big-giant-hashtable. The need emerged because some HUGE data sets needed management and analysis, but were so unstructured that it was impractical to put them in a traditional relational database. Really huge personalized web sites needed to create their own NoSQL solution, just to scale: Facebook made Cassandra, LinkedIn made Voldemort, Amazon made Dyamo, Google made BigTable, etc.

At Open World, Oracle announced several products in this area... One that I found interesting is an appliance based on the Hadoop database, which is used for analysis of HUGE amounts of unstructured data. I covered Hadoop's algorithms three years ago, warning that once JOINS were practical, it could threaten Oracle's database hegemony... but it looks like their Hadoop offering is a good blended mix: Hadoop for initial unstructured analysis, then migrate to Oracle for fast reporting.

I was also impressed with Oracle's new NoSQL offering, which is mainly for the storage of a massive amount of high speed, "lightly transactional" data. Think personalization, browser history, etc. This new offering is based on Oracle's existing BerkleyDB libraries: at 20+ years old, they're probably the oldest NoSQL database still in common use. In fact, a lot of the "big data" players are just wrappers around an array of BerkleyDB nodes. What makes Oracle's offering superior, is that it's just as fast as other NoSQL databases, but you can optionally add support for SQLite query support, instead of plain get/set methods. Also, you can add support for ACID transactions. Naturally, the queries will be much slower than if the data was in a RDBMS, and transactions will slow down the system... but at least it's available.

Not sure what the effects of this will be... especially since a great deal of these offerings are OpenSource! But, I'd wager that it won't take long for Oracle Applications to start using them in interesting ways...

The obvious ones are user tracking, event history, and business analytics. Previously, people would only track a fraction of user or system events, because it would be totally impractical to capture or analyze it. Amazon decided to do exactly that, and surprised everyone when they proved how much of a competitive advantage they were able to glean... With NoSQL, you could store way more data than before... and with Hadoop you can analyze way more...

Well folks, it looks like NoSQL has finally hit the mainstream! Can't wait for the inevitable Exa-doop server...

comments

A tale of two oracles?

I like the idea of an Oracle NoSQL offering - especially with more horizontally scalable needs that are likely to arise with the direction of the WebCenters, ATG and Sites. If Oracle took WebCenter connect as a B2C offering, a NoSQL backend could really have a good fit there.

Still the way Oracle about-faced on bashing NoSQL in the May whitepaper, then hide it, then promote their own NoSQL is childish.

I've got the links to both whitepapers over at Bloomthink: http://bloomthink.com/2011/10/04/a-tale-of-two-oracles-nosql-and-no-nosql/

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