Conor O'Mahony's Database Diary

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Are Larry Ellison and Oracle out of Touch with the Market?

with 3 comments

Larry Ellison was his usual entertaining self on yesterday’s Webcast announcing the Oracle/Sun strategy. However, some of his statements were so far from reality that it left me wondering if he knows what’s happening in the database market. For instance, he crowed “the Oracle Database scales out, IBM DB2 for Unix does not. Let me see, how many servers can IBM put together for an OLTP application? Let’s see, how many can they group together? Um, one. They can have up to one server attacking really big jobs. When they need more capacity, they make that server bigger. And then they take the old server out, put a bigger one in. And when you’ve got the biggest server, that’s it. That’s all the can do for OLTP“. Actually Larry, you couldn’t be more wrong. DB2 pureScale supports up to 128 nodes. And, not only that, but IBM has published scale-out numbers for DB2 pureScale, something that we would love to see Oracle provide for Real Application Clusters (RAC).

He also claimed that DB2 “can’t scale out, they can’t do cloud, they can’t do clusters, the can’t do any of this“. The fact is, DB2 offers both pureScale (using a shared-disk architecture) and DPF (using a shared-nothing architecture). This allows users to choose the approach that best suits their environment. Oracle, on the other hand, offers only a shared-disk RAC architecture. Some might argue that Exadata simulates a form of shared-nothing backend for Oracle. However, this is essentially a band-aid that attempts to address scalability issues by throwing more hardware at the problem.

As regards whether DB2 can do the cloud, many people would argue that a shared-nothing architecture like DB2 DPF is the best approach for private clouds. Also, don’t forget that DB2 already has multiple cloud offerings in the marketplace, including DB2 on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Finally Larry claimed that “you would’ve thought, years ago, that IBM would have come out with a database machine. I mean its so obvious, they’ve got hardware, they’ve got DB2. Why in the world didn’t they come out with a database machine? It’s fascinating“. Actually, IBM has come out with such an offering. IBM has been doing this since we introduced the Balanced Warehouse to the market in 2007. The most recent examples of such systems that IBM has brought to market include DB2 pureScale and the IBM Smart Analytics System (which includes the entire stack needed for analytics, from hardware through ETL, warehousing, reporting, and analytics).

I really am astonished that Larry Ellison would make such fundamental factual errors on such a prominent Webcast.


Written by Conor O'Mahony

January 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm

3 Responses

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  1. It would certainly cut out some chatter if there were some recent DB2 TPC numbers. There are no 9.7 results nor PureScale results.

    I think a DB2 9.7 on AIX 6 with Infiniband and SSD would more than level the playing field. It would also give system designers an idea of what future systems will look like.

    Is PureScale generally available?


    Norm Wong

    January 29, 2010 at 9:41 am

  2. It’s amusing. On the Webcast, Larry claimed that Oracle “crushed” IBM in the benchmark. The thing is… they took advantage of SSDs to better IBM’s 2008 result by just 25%. And they needed more than 6 times the number of CPU cores to do it. In my opinion, that’s not very impressive. I look forward to IBM’s next benchmark result.

    Yes, DB2 pureScale is generally available.

    Conor O'Mahony

    January 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

  3. The “campaign” rumbles on…

    Conor O'Mahony

    February 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm

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