OpenWorld 2014 was dominated by jet lag. Not that “special” type of Doug Burns jet lag, but the real stuff. As I mentioned in a previous post, having been ill in the 3 weeks leading up to OpenWorld, the jet lag hit me hard and I had nothing in reserve to get me through it. I’m now back in the UK and it is even worse. It’s 01:00 as I write this and I’ve been to sleep for about 3 hours. I’m now wide awake. It’s going to be a long day!
Apart from the jet lag, what was the overall message at OOW14?
This one was pretty predictable. What broke away from the message of previous years was the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) message. In previous years Oracle said they were not interested in IaaS as competing with the general cloud providers, like AWS, was not good business. As Mark Rittman put it, this is “a race to for the bottom”. Instead, Oracle wanted to focus on the Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), where they are selling their technology stack and software respectively. This has much better margins and allows them to do something that other cloud providers can’t really compete with in a price fight.
In reality any PaaS provider needs to also provide IaaS because applications do not work in isolation. It may be nice to have your Oracle database on the cloud, but what do you do with that 3rd party application that you would like to run in the same data centre as the database?
Oracle have come out with a statement that they will provide general purpose compute power and not be beaten on price by the likes of AWS. That sounds quite scary, but I think the reality is this will only be a small part of their cloud business. I would imagine most people moving to the Oracle Cloud will be doing so for the PaaS and SaaS offerings. The IaaS will only play a supporting role.
In more general terms, Oracle are planning on adding just about everything “as a Service” on their cloud. They’ve announced Database Backup, Documents, Big Data (Hadoop) and Node.js as a Service, which were new to me, along with all the usual stuff we either already had or expected…
Once everything is available, it will certainly make an impressive lists. From a platform perspective, not quite as diverse as AWS yet, but impressive none the less.
On the whole, Oracle shied away from the normal, “You can do big data with the Oracle database!”, message they’ve been trying to promote over recent years. I think the world and their dog understand that “Big Data” and relational databases don’t really go hand-in-hand.
Instead, Oracle were pushing the Oracle Big Data SQL product. I started off pretty cynical about this, thinking it would just be a knock-off of Cloudera Impala, but it does seem to be something more. Big Data SQL allows you to create external tables over Hadoop and NoSQL data stores, so you can write SQL against them and process the data in your Oracle database. No need to learn any new query/programming tool. It also allows you to join differing data sources together.
Regardless of your views on big data, there are a lot of “data people” out there with SQL skills and, relatively speaking, nobody with map reduce skills. That and the fact that many companies for the foreseeable future will be churning through their map reduce jobs to produce data to put into a relational database for reporting, means that integration between Hadoop, NoSQL and RDBMS will be a key component. Oracle Big Data SQL seems to have hit this nail square on the head. If it weren’t so ridiculously expensive, it would be interesting to see the adoption rate!
This might seem like a minor feature on the surface, but I think it is a massive step forward for Oracle. The reality of the marketplace is that document stores are now seen as the preferred solution for some situations. Oracle will never compete with the likes of MongoDB (it’s webscale) on shear performance, but how many people really need to hit those numbers? Last year my company were considering MongoDB/RavenDB for some HR projects. The main factor against this idea was the split of the “single point of truth” between Oracle and another database technology. If the JSON support in the Oracle database had been available, we would probably have used it.
The JSON support in the database seems pretty comprehensive to me. Once the REST APIs are available, through Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS) it will be interesting to see how the developers react to this.
It was rather disappointing to hear that APEX 5.0 is a long way off going to production. The logic for holding back is sound. It’s got to be bullet proof, especially the upgrade process, so it’s better to wait until it is sorted, than release early and get lost in a support nightmare. Even so, I wanted the pretties…
I didn’t listen to the formal announcements about WebLogic, so I’m not sure how much of what I heard is still under NDA from ACE Director Briefing. For that reason, I’ll keep my mouth shut, but suffice to say, there are things in the pipeline that will make my life much easier!
The database side of things was relatively quiet. Two years ago we got, “This is what we will give you in 12c”. Last year we got, “This is what we have given you in 12c”. This year we got, “This is what we gave you last year in 12c”. We did of course get lots of In-Memory stuff, but we knew about that last year and it is now GA…
I guess some news was that we are 18-24 months away from 12cR2, so you will probably have to upgrade to 12cR1 if you want to retain support without paying any extra cash. The proposed release date for 12cR2 will be after the free 1 year extension to support runs out… When you consider the obligatory, “wait for the first patchset”, that could be a long time without support…
There were of course numerous things about Oracle Linux, Oracle VM, MySQL 5.7, Engineered Systems and a whole bunch of other stuff, but I guess if you follow those areas you already know…
As mentioned in a previous post, the take home message for me is that Oracle are working hard to be a cloud provider. As such, they have spotted obvious flaws in their own products. A big proportion of the new features in their infrastructure products seem to me like a direct result of them “eating their own dog food” while trying to become a cloud provider. I think this is good news for the future of Oracle products, even if you don’t care about the Oracle Cloud specifically.
Big thanks to the ACE Program and OTN for getting me to OOW14. It was great to meet up with my Oracle friends and Oracle family again. I’m looking forward to a jet lag free 10th anniversary OOW next year!