Larry Ellison’s keynote at Oracle OpenWorld on Sunday night had many flourishes as well as reminders of previous OpenWorlds. If this is your first experience with OpenWorld it is a TECHNOLOGY conference with, yes, a heavy emphasis on tech. That included a preliminary address by Fujitsu, one of the sponsors, that managed to make watching paint dry seem exciting.
No matter though, the show was about Oracle and its founder and guiding light, Larry Ellison who arrived from a day on San Francisco Bay watching his Team USA America’s Cup entry score a pair of wins on the previously dominating New Zealand hull. With the American boat still playing catch up at 8 wins to 5 (9 needed to win) there was no gloating but you could see a bit of self satisfaction on Ellison’s face both for the win and presumably because he didn’t have to deliver any bad news at the outset. New Zealand needs one more win to take the trophy home so it’s nail biting time for the American fans.
Nonetheless, Ellison was in a good mood as he unveiled some high capacity innovations in his company’s database (12c) and two new database appliances and other silicon based gadgetry that, if you are a gear-head or database maven, will thrill you.
First up, Oracle 12c, the fully in-memory version of the database that can run queries more than 100 times faster than the conventional model. That’s a huge performance improvement — like getting a Corvette for your sixteenth birthday when you were expecting a new bicycle. If you happen to be a Fortune 500 company with data, data everywhere, this advancement will bring a smile to your face. Never mind the row and column format innovations that make it possible, this is big picture, because, I am not a database guy any more. I can just appreciate it.
Then there is yet another device in the growing stable of Sun/Oracle devices that accelerate database activity. The new machine, M6-32, enables massive shared memory for in memory applications. It sports a silicon based interconnect running at 3 terabyte/sec (I was told to make sure it’s terabytes and not terabits). It translates into uber-fast data movement to help afford radically great database performance for databases that carry billions of rows.
Finally, there is a new backup and logging device for the database that also operates rather snappily, so well in fact that they saddled it with a ridiculous name which is something like Backup and Logging Device, which is sort of like the idea of naming a boy Sue as in a Johnny Cash song or naming your jelly Smuckers. Nobody is going to forget this machine once they see what it does and it does plenty.
What’s interesting to me about all this is that 1) it demonstrates some very good engineering aimed at confronting the biggest issues of database and hardware business today, Big Data; it also 2) positions Oracle even more directly as the plumber of the cloud as no other hardware maker has gone to the effort of thinking through what happens in 2020 when there are upwards of 50 billion devices hanging on the cloud. In memory is a big step in that direction.
This means that Oracle is the lead dog in the hunt to be the infrastructure maven of the cloud as it creeps toward reliability standards previously only seen in the phone system or possible some good electric utilities. That’s where we need to be for the cloud to become the indispensable business tool its supporters envisioned ten years ago.
Over the next few days, we’ll hear about the company’s applications and its business model and strategies for getting its customer base to dip a toe into the cloud, to bruise a metaphor. That will be the trick but fortunately for all, Oracle has found a way to engineer a win-win situation for all customers to take their time making the transition. All Ellison needs now is a little wind for his boat to do the same.