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Oracle OpenWorld: Ellison's ungodly speed trip

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan September 22, 2013
For the opening keynote of Oracle OpenWorld, Larry Ellison was focused on going faster than SAP and IBM.

Out in the San Francisco bay, top of Larry Ellison's to do list was go faster than the New Zealand team in the America's Cup.

Later in the Moscone Center for the opening keynote of Oracle OpenWorld, Ellison was still focused on going faster - but this time it was faster than SAP and IBM.

With HANA firmly in his sights - although never explicitly mentioned - Ellison unveiled a new in-memory option for Oracle's 12c database that delivers "ungodly" performance improvements.

Oracle had a goal of 100 times faster queries for analytics and a doubling in throughput for transaction processing with the in-memory option.

The basic idea? Transactions run better in a row-store database. Analytics run faster in a column-based store. Oracle Database 12c stores data in both formats simultaneously, and the information is consistent.

Ellison noted:

"When you update one you always update the other. The data is consistent between those two formats. There's actually very little overhead in maintaining the column store in-memory in addition to Oracle's traditional row store.

“When you put data in memory, one of the reasons you do that is to make the system go faster. It will make queries go faster, 100 times faster. You can load the same data into the identical machines, and it’s 100 times faster, you get results at the speed of thought."

in mem Larry

Oracle demoed the technology, showing seven billion rows could be queried per second via in-memory compared to five million rows per second in a traditional database.

Next up, the M6-32 Big Memory Machine, the latest iteration of the engineered system of Oracle hardware, bringing with it 32TB of DRAM and new SPARC M6 chips with double the cores of the M5 chips they replace.

Ellison said:

"It's the fastest machine in the world for databases stored in memory."

in mem 2

Finally there was the announcement of the snappily-named Oracle Database Backup, Logging, Recovery appliance. Ellison self-depracatingly deadpanned:

"You're probably asking me who is the genius who named that product? I did. That's why they pay me the big bucks."


All told it was a keynote address heavy on technical and product specifications, but perhaps too light on business outcomes and application. Constellation Research's Ray Wang made the point on Twitter:




The closest we got to the 'why this matters' element that Wang alludes to was when Ellison said:

"We think by designing the software and hardware together, you get extreme performance so you need less machines, you spend less, need less floor space in the data center, use less electricity, less labour maintaining it."

Nonetheless a solid play to the IT audience. For those of us who lived through the speed battles of the 1990s between Oracle and Informix, there was a reassuring familiarity as well. As my colleague Kenny McIver quipped:

"Haven't we been here before?"

But there's still something enormously compelling about Ellison talking database - a man in command of his subject.

And elsewhere in town someone was impressed by what Ellison was doing:


And you know what? He's right.


Disclosure: At time of writing, Oracle, and SAP are premium partners of diginomica.

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