Oracle: Big Data Partner or Big Data Boat Anchor?

Larry Ellison announced a new Oracle Hadoop/NoSQL Big Data appliance last night at the opening of OpenWorld. So does the new appliance give Oracle immediate Big Data credibility? Not by a long shot.

Oracle will be considered a true player in the Big Data market if and only if it invests heavily in its new appliance, contributes to the Hadoop community, and truly supports its customers that want to focus their data management infrastructure around Hadoop (and not around Oracle). I don’t see any chance Oracle will hit even one of these three marks.

Oracle is simply paying lip service to NoSQL and Hadoop. Ellison knows Oracle needs to have some Hadoop/NoSQL offering, but the open source/commodity hardware/scale-out approach to Big Data is the antithesis of the Oracle way: closed source/Sun-only hardware/scale-up.

Rather than invest in its new Big Data appliance, I suspect Oracle will not encourage customers to even adopt it and, for those customers that do, barely support it. Exadata et al. is Oracle’s cash cow and Hadoop/NoSQL is a threat – bottom line.

This is a problem for all Oracle customers, not just those that explicitly want to embrace Big Data now. Every Oracle customer will have a Big Data problem/opportunity at some point in the near future.

As data volumes grow, and they will, enterprises that rely on Oracle data management technologies like Exadata will find themselves coming under enormous cost pressure. That’s because Oracle analytical databases and data warehouses are not Big Data. They are expensive to scale. They can’t ingest data quickly like competing products from Vertica and Greenplum. They don’t run on commodity hardware but on Sun-only hardware. (See this excellent analysis of a true Big Data appliance v. Oracle Exadata by Wikibon CTO David Floyer, from which the chart below is excerpted.)

Oracle customers grappling with ever increasing data volumes will have two choices: Keep paying Oracle to scale-up with more and more expensive hardware, maintenance and support (and experience performance degradation to boot) or forfeit the enormous investment they’ve made in Exadata and other Oracle products and start from scratch with a genuine Big Data platform. Neither are attractive options.

Unless Oracle surprises everyone and actually gets behind Hadoop and legitimate Big Data approaches, Oracle wont’ be your Big Data partner but more like your Big Data boat anchor.




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