Oracle continues to lead the pack with the winning release of Oracle Database 12c.
by Aaron Lazenby, November 2013
Starting with the first database release more than 30 years ago, Oracle’s engineers have worked with customers and partners on every release to make sure it was ready to meet the coming demands of business.
For example, Oracle was perfectly positioned when the internet first took off in the 1990s, says Andy Mendelsohn, senior vice president of database server technologies at Oracle. “Everybody was doing e-commerce over the internet. And you needed a very powerful database that could handle transaction processing,” he says.
Now, says Mendelsohn, the big drivers are cloud and big data. And Oracle is once again prepared to help customers and partners become pacesetters in a fast-moving market. In July, Oracle executives announced the release of Oracle Database 12c, the result of 2,500 person-years of development and 1.2 million hours of testing, plus an extensive beta program with Oracle’s customers and partners.
Here, Mendelsohn gives his executive overview of key features and options in Oracle Database 12c, including how customers can use it to save money, gain new insights, and grow their businesses.
Profit: How did customers influence the new release?
Mendelsohn: The marquee option Oracle Multitenant was explicitly designed in cooperation with our customers, starting about five years ago. The whole idea was to take Oracle Database and rearchitect it so that it would be a great platform for both private and public clouds.
Our big customers have thousands of Oracle databases, but only about 10 percent of these are mission-critical and need dedicated infrastructure and administrators. Our customers still want the other 90 percent to be highly reliable and scalable, but their number one objective is to lower the total cost of ownership of those databases. They want to reduce the number of databases they have to manage the hardware required to run them.
Now, customers can take their hundreds of test and development environments, as well as their departmental systems—which currently exist in separate, extensive environments—and consolidate them into one database.
With support for multitenancy, customers can take an Oracle database and make it look like it has hundreds of virtual databases in it. And each one of these virtual databases looks and feels to an application like it’s an independent database, just like a virtual machine does to an application. We are calling these pluggable databases.
Now, customers can take their hundreds of test and development environments, as well as their departmental systems—which currently exist in separate, extensive environments—and consolidate them into one database. And they can have one administrator managing across the whole environment. I can tell you from talking to customers that they are very excited about this. This is exactly the infrastructure they want.
Profit: How does this expand opportunities within the Oracle ecosystem?
Mendelsohn: With Oracle Database 12c, basically any partner application that runs against Oracle Database can now run in a multitenant fashion on the cloud. Our partners don’t need to build any extra code in the middle tier.
Independent software vendors [ISVs] providing software as a service just need to create a container database—which is what we call the one database that’s required. Then, they create a pluggable database for each customer that wants their service, which gives their customers an isolated, secure environment for running their application.
Number of new features included in Oracle Database 12c
So our partners are now cloud-enabled. This is a big deal for ISVs that want to provide software as a service. Vendors like Salesforce.com may decide this is a much better way of running their operations in the future. Also, cloud enablement is a really big deal for our Oracle Fusion Applications developers because they will also be able to leverage this capability moving forward.
Profit: How can customers use Oracle Database 12c to drive better insight?
Mendelsohn: For many years, we’ve been designing our databases to provide a rich platform for performing analytics. It’s been 20 years since we added massively parallel query into the database to do high-performance SQL analytics, for example. And in 2008, we released Oracle Exadata, an engineered system that was originally designed to optimize data-warehousing workloads on the database.
In Oracle Database 12c, the big thing we added is something we call SQL pattern matching. When people discuss how they use big data, they talk about looking at patterns of information. If you’re a financial analyst, you’re looking at sequences of prices a stock has had over the last year. If you’re a banker looking for fraud, you’re looking at patterns of transactions a customer has been executing over the last few days.
In the past, customers had to write hundreds of lines of code to try to do this kind of analytics. Now, with SQL pattern matching, they can write a couple lines of SQL and run these patterns on massively parallel Oracle Exadata platforms, for example. In seconds, they will get an answer about whether the data fits the pattern. So, the database offers a much more productive environment for doing big data analytics.
Aaron Lazenby is editor in chief of Profit.