Disclaimer – The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the paper are my own and does not reflect of my current or last employers.
Innovation is the need of the hour. Innovation walks through the storm of thoughts and lays down the platform for fresh efforts, stability and business. It has been years of innovative practices that have elevated Oracle from a sole database software provider to a giant software enterprise. From last three decades, Oracle has been undoubtedly associated with relational database software – not surprising though. With the turn of time and technology, Teradata, Netezza, IBM and many more software firms were emerging out in the field of “multiplied” offerings of hardware and software. Again, an “innovative” kick and the urge to sustain in the market brought Oracle into the field of engineered systems. Later, with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Siebel, Peoplesoft and many more to mention, Oracle solidified its footsteps amongst the group of companies which provided “folded” offering of hardware with software.
In this paper, I shall take a walk through tour of some of the recent innovations in Oracle. We shall see what are the emerging trends and offerings from Oracle which can push IT leaders to differentiate Oracle from others.
The Talks on the Walks
I could recall the slogans tagged under the logo “Oracle” which reflect exactly what it beats during the time. Until the year 2008 (the oldest I can remember), the tag read as “The Information Company”. By this time, its RDBMS solution reached the pinnacles of maturity, perhaps being the most trusted and proven relational database software in the industry. Moreover, the developments on engineered systems and other verticals like Middleware, Application and BI were snoozing out for a big roar. Hardware based database machines with Oracle database software were on their way to provide cohesive benefits to the world. It was in 2010 that the new tag line was incorporated to showcase their latest strengths – “Software. Hardware. Complete”. Later in the same year, it was strategically re framed as “Hardware and Software – Engineered to Work Together” to highlight the engineering part.
In the recent times, the terms “Engineering” and “Innovation” moved parallel to deliver quality and ensure customer satisfaction. Apart from high performance database machines, visible developments were made to adopt the “Cloud Computing” technology. Oracle replaced “Internet” technology with “Grid Computing” one in order to multiply resource availability for a task. Following the huge success of grid computing, RAC systems became the base for the modern database implementations and also database machines like Exadata and Oracle Database Appliance. RAC systems promised Maximum Availability Architecture (MAA), Load Balancing, and Scalability.
Ever since Web 2.0 companies started facing issues while handling humongous amount of unstructured data, there has been a lot of buzz around on Big Data technology. Amidst of multiple companies, Oracle also took a responsible step to address the requirements by devising out Oracle Big Data Appliance.
That’s the story how Oracle floors innovation to renovate technology. Look what facts have to say. New products and innovations have been credited for 40 to 50% of the annual revenues in a company. The driving changes help them to stay in competition, be in the news and pave new ways of growth, development and recognition. There is a definite portion of investment which is solely meant to create and transform the business, apart from growing and running it.
Oracle Cloud: Consolidation of technology stack and reduce IT cost
Cloud computing technology is one of the most hyped topics in the last few years – not surprising though after seeing its benefits and business acceleration. What is Cloud computing? Cloud computing model can be thought of a workbench with multiple utilities mounted on it. End users can make use of any of these utilities at any time from any location. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model delivers ample of benefits from both the ends. As a cloud service provider, you ensure effective utilization of available resources through shared resource pools, consolidate the standalone servers and offer wide range of services to the end users. As a cloud service user, you have full authority to use any utility as a service whenever you need – technology at your doorstep. Pay as you go licensing model gives you management flexibility and relief of capital expenses which used to incur in requesting, procuring and maintaining the database applications.
Cloud computing well deserves the accolades as it provides high quality of service at a much reduced cost. The company management would love to have access to wide range of software over the consolidated private cloud based systems which enables them to offer better service to their customers and explore new dimensions of growth.
Oracle Engineered Systems: Consolidation and simplification of Data Centers
Oracle RDBMS software needs no introduction in the industry. The time it was maturing in the market, Oracle had planned to step in the field of enterprise storage and hardware business. Objective was to cut down the costing pressure and maintenance while providing high performance, much more storage, high scalability, and maximum availability. The Oracle engineered system family include Exadata (Database machine), Exalogic (Elastic cloud), Exalytics (In-memory machine), Oracle Database Appliance, Oracle Big Data Appliance, and SPARC super cluster T4-4. All of these engineered systems share the common characteristics i.e. easy to manage, upgrade, low TCO (total cost of ownership), reduced CMR (change management request), and most importantly single vendor support.
It was the OOW (Oracle Open World) of 2008 when Larry Ellison first announced the Exadata database machine which was Oracle database software on HP hardware servers. With the acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010, Oracle used Sun’s hardware servers for exadata machines. Two flavors of exadata machines were made available as X2-2 and X2-8 differentiating on the number of processors, storage capacity, and network configurations. In OOW’2012, Oracle announced the availability of X3 database machines as next generation systems. As per CEO Larry, “If you thought the old Exadatas were fast, you ain’t seen nothing yet”. The authoritative and commanding statement said enough to grasp the confidence of the market and thus the business.
Exadata is a fully integrated and optimized database machine which clubs computing, storage and networking tiers in a single hardware. Advanced features like hybrid columnar compression, smart flash cache, intelligent storage and storage indexes are the credit points for extreme performance (almost 10X times) in OLTP systems. Several customer studies and benchmarking results have revealed that the exadata machine ideally suffices the data warehousing, OLTP and database consolidation requirements with low cost overheads.
Oracle Database Appliance is a shorter version of Exadata in terms of objectives and positioning but focuses solely on simplicity and affordability. Similar to exadata, database appliance too employs the RAC technology for high availability. As stated, simplicity is the key differentiating factor between quarter rack exadata and database appliance. There is minimal skill set required for installation, management and troubleshoot Oracle database appliance. Customers would be pleased with the generic format of troubleshoot exercise with Automatic Service Request (ASR) service where an SR is automatically raised for specific hardware faults.
Exalogic is another fully integrated engineered system from Oracle for running middleware and applications. Being an engineered system, exalogic provides incredible performance and scalability while lowering down the TCO and maintenance cost. IT firms looking for deploying java based application or other middleware application on weblogic server can realize substantial gains in performance with the use of exalogic. Exalogic assures low latency, high throughput and accelerated coordination with database by a huge margin to come out as a reliable offering.
Exalytics is a database machine which is deployed in environments which require high performance analysis, planning and modeling. It combines the efficiencies of business intelligence and in-memory database technology to deliver high analytic experience to end users – “at the speed of thought”. It is often deployed along with oracle exadata database machine to cohesively enjoy best of both the worlds.
Big Data: The next big thing for enterprises
The face of information has changed tremendously over the years. This change is accredited to the steep increase in the volume of semi or unstructured data coming from industries, social platforms, sensors – collectively coming under “Big Data” category. Imagine the data flow from emails, twitter, facebook or blog aggregators in a day. The real challenge was to capture the data, store it securely and analyze for business implications. Large scale companies into real time business can get affected by inaccurate and incomplete analysis of its consumers.
Let us see how Oracle sees it through. Oracle Big Data platform is an integrated and engineered system to drive big data strategies through a comprehensive software stack comprising of Big Data appliance, Big Data Connectors, Exadata and Exalytics. It follows a logical cycle of acquiring, organizing and analyzing the juggles of big data to ensure predictable performance, high availability and tight security. The appliance employes the services of Cloudera’s Hadoop solution (HDFS – Hadoop Distributed File System) for processing the distributed data whereas Oracle NoSQL database is responsible for real time data processing assuring low latency and high throughput. The data is now organized by Oracle Big Data Connectors using map reduce methods and decent parallelism. The data loading is done either using oracle loader for hadoop (OLH), or direct connector for HDFS, or data integrator for hadoop. The data warehouse is kept with oracle exadata machine so as to lose nothing on performance at any moment. The Big Data appliance and other engineered systems are connected through a high speed infiniband band. For advanced analysis, the system uses Exalytics and Oracle R for graphical and statistical overview.
Big Data strategies are already on the move as the next potential development in technology. Surely, there are much more challenges for Oracle to face in the area. It is important to sink out the shades and work on the strengths to stand still. Big data customers would be pleasant to know that Oracle offers single point of support for the complete technology track, including upgrades and troubleshooting.
Focus areas on target
Progressive efforts follow continuity in the area of data security, automation and testing and maximum availability to keep them sync with the ongoing developments. The 12c release is on the verge of market roll out. Enterprise manager 12c has been the part of discussions as the most accomplished integrated and integrable database platform. Grid and RAC have been taken in trust while Cloud is the talk of the town. In the coming years, Oracle is likely to make considerable movements in Oracle Fusion Middleware across the complete product stack. With the arrival of cloud in the market base, it might cover Application Unlimited plan and fusion applications too.
Oracle has been able to drive innovation in the right direction – so as to build up huge customer base across the globe and be the cutting edge leader among the technology differentiators. The paper discussed the salient prevailing trends as seen by Oracle in the last few years. Be it is software or hardware, Oracle has been able to cultivate best out of technology and inherit the tone of the market. The facts which lives throughout is that innovation played a vital role in nourishing the technologies from thoughts to the business. It defines the journey of Oracle from an “Information Company” to “Hardware and Software. Engineered to Work Together”.