Oracle in the Cloud

September 30, 2008

When I received my pre-ordered copy of The Big Switch last January I read it with the mindset that what Nick Carr was talking about was 2,5, maybe even 10 years in the future.

Boom, the future just arrived.

Oracle just made its major technology products, most notably database 11g, available on the Amazon EC2.

In a sense nothing new technically was announced, you always could install a copy of Linux Oracle on an Amazon Machine Image but it wasn’t licensed or supported by Oracle. Now it is. Standard Oracle licensing applies and Oracle has supplied custom templates on Amazon virtual machines with the database already setup.

So far I don’t see any big limitations with it though I’m sure there are some kinks in it at this early stage. But once that gets worked out, I am already wondering, why would you run Oracle any other way? The fact that standard licensing applies does hurt the cloud scalability, Oracle will have to come up with another licensing model eventually.

Oracle being the 800 pound gorilla in the database market, I think they just shook the market up. I was expecting 2009 to be the year that a few open source databases started to appear on the cloud. It was only a few months ago that EnterpriseDB made a beta of PostgreSQL available on the EC2. Now Oracle has put it all out there.

From a brief test it appears to work. The hardest part is getting the SSH keys setup for the secure connection. After that, a few commands and a few minutes and the database is up and running, just like any other Oracle on Linux. Sweet.

MySQL 5.1

September 23, 2008

The GA release of MySQL finally approaches, perhaps by sometime in November, let’s just say end of the year. I think this will be a watershed release for MySQL and open-source databases in general. Meaning 2009 should be an interesting year.

The 5.1 release finally has the major features that we might say a “real” ( or “Oracle” ) database ought to have – referential integrity, ACID transaction (using Oracle’s InnoDB!), MVCC and partitioning. And now commercial support from well known and trusted vendor Sun. I think a lot of customers paying those high Oracle & DB2 license fees will be giving this a serious look in 2009.

Now of course PostgreSQL already has all this and it really hasn’t caught on yet. PostgreSQL just never built up the user base the way MySQL did with the LAMP users. As MySQL leverages that big user base with this new fuller featured release, perhaps MySQL will drag PostgreSQL along with it in 2009.

Where does that leave the Oracle DBA in 2009? With open-source databases and cloud computing coming on strong in 2009, the Oracle DBA should definitely be looking for a broader skill set.


September 12, 2008

Kickfire is impressive, I like it. They’re setting both price/performance and pure preformance TPC-H records with it. Ever since I saw the open, pluggable architecture of MySQL I thought there could be a lot of innovations with it. And here is one example
This kind of stands my database world on its head though. I always saw MySQL as a little database for small web systems, not a real serious database like Oracle. . Being able to run big performance on big data warehouses with MySQL takes some getting used to. Certainly takes away the argument that only things like Oracle can scale up.

I’ll watch for Kickfire to be bought out by Sun or make a licensing deal with Sun. For Sun, being able to deliver low cost high performance database platforrms with their own database and own hardware puts Sun in a very good place. The MySQL purchase starts to make sense now.

New Directions

September 12, 2008

I’ve been looking at several new things lately.

I remember when MySQL first hit the scene, all of us who used “real” databases like Oracle sneered at it. It didn’t have tranasaction control, referential integrity etc, how it coold it even be called a database we thought. Well, it has come a long way. I especailly like the pluggable transaction engine architecture which allows me to plugin the complexity I need only as I need it. This is a cleaner solution than Oracle’s policy of offerig several incompatible products or trying to pretend that the 11g monster is a one size fits all solution.

I’d really like to see a column-store plugin. It would be an easy way try out column stores.

Ruby on Rails
This is a framework I can work with. I’ve seen too many frameworks that just bury me in syntax. The proverbial 400 line Java “Hello World” program problem. Rails certianly enforces a set of restrictions but the benefit is way less code. The remaining code is much more focused on implementing the business rules rather than the syntax to drive the framwork.
Clearly there are limitations especialy noting that it really works best with new applications and doesn’t work nearly so well with legacy data models. You do have to reconsider the conversion costs, if you are making substantial changes to a cumbersome legacy system anyway, a complete rewrite in Rails could be cheaper in the long run.

Also a special mention to WhytheLuckyStiff and his Camping and Shoes projects. For those times when even Rails seems too heavy, something even lighter. Brilliant little frameworks, almost pieces of art in their brevity and simplicity..