Saturday, July 26, 2014

Oracle 12c Database In-Memory is Out - Hardly Anybody Notices

Oracle 12c with In-Memory option ( note that even Oracle doesn't dare to call it In-Memory RDBMS - hence awkward Database In-Memory designation )  was released last week. Press and media are rightfully silent about it ( aside from a couple of  Oracle heads who are excited something "new" is finally happening in Oracle database world ). Much hyped Oracle flagship database's initial foray into in-memory, columnar world is a storm in a teacup, as no ground breaking features are offered ( that is, unless your database world view is limited to Oracle only ).

Oracle In-Memory option is yet another (column-organized) cache on top of old and tired row/disk based database ( establ. 1979 ).
Oracle's latest solution is fairly pedestrian - columnar cache has to be reloaded and data transformed from row to columnar on each database restart or first use of a particular table. The question this approach raises is how fast will cache be populated on each database startup, since query performance will surely suffer until cache is fully reloaded.

IBM BLU, SAP HANA are ahead of Oracle as they store data on disk natively in columnar format i.e. once data is written to disk it does not need to be transformed from row to columnar any more.

Oracle is clearly in defensive mode and not in aggressive leading edge charge. Their selling point is: no changes, backwards compatibility, all remains the same. You will get spectacular improvements in performance in some specific cases and under specific conditions. Bottom line is: you pay a lot ( In-Memory is separately priced option ), do little in terms of your technical effort ( it is easy to administer this feature and it is transparent to applications ) and experience some performance gains ( improvements will be noticeable in specific cases and situations, not across the board ). Oracle will surely continue to expand on this theme, but at this pace it will take a while to catch up with SAP Hana and IBM BLU. Any possibility of Oracle taking the lead position in database innovation race is out of question for now.

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