Oracle Announces NoSQL Database Availability

Oracle has been busy the last few weeks, as it recently released its NoSQL Database that supposedly offers advantages over its competitors in terms of installation, configuration, management, and support.

In addition to the NoSQL Database release, Oracle also announced that its highly anticipated Big Data Appliance would become available during the first quarter of 2012.  Oracle initially gave a sneak peek into both products at the Oracle Open World Conference in San Francisco a few weeks ago, so the rather quick availability and updated information show that the company is taking aggressive steps to measure up to the competition.

The timing of Oracle’s announcements could not be any better, as its competitors are also making moves in the large-scale data processing arena.  EMC and IBM kicked things off earlier this year when they released software based on Apache’s Hadoop open source project, and Microsoft announced in October that it would follow suit with similar software of its own.  Oracle plans to equip its Big Data Appliance with a proprietary distribution of Hadoop as well as the NoSQL Database.  The appliance will also feature a bundle that includes Oracle Linux, Oracle Java HotSpot Virtual Machine, a new Data Integrator set to tap into Hadoop, and enterprise support.  Users can expect the appliance to be a hybrid of the Exadata Database Machine and the Exadata Storage Expansion Rack.  It will combine the power of both to offer x86 processing with high-capacity disk storage.  A full rack will reportedly supply storage up to 432 terabytes.

Now available for download via the Oracle Technology Network, NoSQL Database is partially based on the BerkeleyDB database.  Oracle acquired the open source single-node database in 2006, the same year in which it acquired Sleepycat Software.  The NoSQL Database offers enhancements over the BerkeleyDB database, such as support for partitioning highly distributed processing and an improved programming interface.  NoSQL databases have been touted by users in the past for their scalability and schema flexibility.  Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle database, and other relational databases deemed to be conventional require schema to be revised every time data is changed.  NoSQL databases, on the other hand, give users the power to add and revise data attributes with ease.

Marie-Anne Neimat, Oracle’s VP of database development, commented on the NoSQL Database release, saying: “We’ve tested the database across multiple hundreds of nodes and it scales very well.  It’s targeted at customers who need the scalability to do things like track Web clickthroughs, smart-meter data, network management, or personalization.”

{mospagebreak title=NoSQL and Social Networking}

NoSQL offerings have been the products of choice for many social networks, e-commerce companies, and other dynamic entities that require proper support for their ever-changing nature.  One has to look no further than social networking giant Facebook, which runs on Cassandra, an open source transactional NoSQL database, for such an example.  Cassandra fits Facebook perfectly as it accommodates the addition of new attributes to profiles, frequent schema changes, and more.  Best of all, Cassandra offers such features at an affordable cost, similar to other open source products on the market. 

Billy Bosworth, CEO of DataStax, a provider of system monitoring and management software plus enterprise support for Cassandra, said, “There’s an order-of-magnitude difference in the speed, performance, and cost of deploying conventional relational databases and Cassandra.”  Bosworth offered an example of Cassandra’s cost-friendly nature by citing the case of Constant Contact, a DataStax customer.  In its search for a relational database solution, Constant Contact nearly invested $2.5 million in an option that would require a deployment time of nine months.  Constant Contact eventually opted for Cassandra, which required an investment of only $250,000 and a deployment time of just three months.

As for his thoughts on the Oracle NoSQL Database, Bosworth noted that although it does have the capability to run on commodity hardware, the company’s underlying strategy is to offer the database as a segment of the upcoming Big Data Appliance package.  The Sun hardware-based Big Data Appliance is just another in the line of Oracle’s systems developed to enhance the Exadata portfolio of products.  Price-wise, Bosworth predicted that the appliance would be expensive.  That combined with the threat of vendor lock-in could likely mean an increased popularity in a more flexible alternative such as Cassandra.  At this time, Oracle has not released any details on pricing for the Big Data Appliance. 

Bosworth said: “Oracle clearly wants to take you into their whole red stack, but we think plenty of people will say, ‘I need some leverage against Oracle, just purely from a procurement standpoint.  The second point is that Cassandra is very mature, and we’ve had companies running very mission-critical applications for some time.”  He cited Netflix as an example of a company that runs much of its infrastructure on Cassandra.

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