Eye on Oracle

October 10, 2007  12:06 PM

Ninja Larry and PHP duct tape

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

The “best introduction to an Oracle story of the week” award goes to writer Glyn Moody:

It would be hard to imagine a greater contrast between Larry “Ninja” Ellison’s personal plaything, aka Oracle, and the hacker’s scripting tape-duct of choice, PHP. And yet the miracle that is open source is able to bring even these polar opposites together in an act of seamless connectivity.

This was in regard to Oracle’s release of an enhanced Oracle Call Interface database driver for PHP yesterday. As the press release says, “This helps bring breakthrough scalability to PHP applications, further enhancing PHP as a viable development environment for mission-critical applications.”

For more info:

Cheers, Tim

October 9, 2007  2:26 PM

An open source advocate’s message to Oracle

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Oracle is seeking to take an open source friendly proposal off the agenda of its next shareholder meeting, and Matt Asay doesn’t want to see it happen.

Asay, a longtime open source activist, founder of the Open Source Business Conference and current vice president of business development for Alfresco, an open source Enterprise Content Management company, yesterday blogged about the proposal, calling for shareholders to make their voices heard on the matter.

Oracle isn’t too keen on the proposal, which calls for Oracle to adopt a resolution that the company consider the social and environmental impact of using open source, and produce a report on the topic for shareholders by April of 2008. It may sound strange to consider the environmental impacts of open source, but as Asay points out, SEC language limits the types of resolutions that shareholders can request.

Oracle’s board of directors had this take on the proposal:

The Board of Directors does not believe that it is in the best interests of the stockholders to spend additional Company time and resources preparing and distributing a unique report which focuses on relatively limited aspects of our efforts to benefit our stockholders, customers, employees and policy makers around the world. However, to better inform our stockholders on the positive impact of our various open source and open standards activities we intend to include additional information about our open source activities in the next “Oracle’s Commitment” report. This report, which is available on our website, discusses various aspects of our involvement in our communities and encourages the involvement of others.

Asay said that the proposal doesn’t seem to go far enough, but I get the feeling that he supports it nevertheless, because there is a bigger issue involved than the wording of the resolution: Oracle’s commitment to open source. Supporting the resolution would send a message that Oracle is truly committed to developing open source technologies.

Should Oracle sign off on the proposal? Or, is their counteroffer to better inform shareholders about all open source activities sufficient? Let us know. 

October 3, 2007  11:27 AM

Five key business intelligence (BI) trends from Mark Rittman

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Oracle business intelligence (BI) architecture and development specialist Mark Rittman delivered a keynote speech this week at the Oracle Business Intelligence, Warehousing, and Analytics (BIWA) Special Interest Group Annual Conference in Reston, Virginia.

According to Rittman, who is also a well-known Oracle BI blogger and the founder of Rittman-Mead Consulting, explained on his blog that “the BIWA SIG is an IOUG special interest group that’s been running for around a year, and was started up by a number of customers, partners and Oracle employees who were keen to get together to discuss, primarily the use of the Oracle database for business intelligence and data warehousing, although it also covers the BI tools such as Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition, Discoverer and so on.”

During his keynote, Rittman spelled out five key trends that will affect business intelligence initiatives going forward. In a nutshell, here are the five trends he mentioned:

1. Expect convergence and interoperability: During 11g timeframe, BISE and BIEE tools will increasingly interoperate.

2. Expect developer adoption of Hyperion FPM Apps: Hyperion acquisition extends Oracle’s leadership into Financial Performance Management and lets the company focus on enterprise-wide Business Intelligence.

3. OLAP will resume a central role in Oracle BI.

4. BI will become more pervasive and embedded: 60% say that they will provide BI tools to more than 25% of their employees within two years.

5. More and more business decisions will become automated.

I’d recommend downloading Rittman’s fascinating presentation for more information. And we’d be interested to hear if you agree with his findings.

October 3, 2007  11:03 AM

PeopleSoft bloggers unite!

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

While there are literally hundreds of Oracle blogs out there — ranging in quality from essential daily reading to the “here’s a wacky photo of my cat” variety — the PeopleSoft blogosphere seems a bit thin. Nonetheless, I looked around and found some good quality efforts. Without further ado, here are the best of the best, IMHO:

Note that a key criterion for inclusion in this list is freshness of content — many other PeopleSoft blogs looked interesting but 3-4 entries per year doesn’t cut it. (People don’t realize how much effort is required to maintain a blog, which may explain why their average lifespan is 3-6 months.) If I’ve missed any, please let me know.



October 1, 2007  8:38 AM

Oracle, Apple and Qualcomm play musical lawyers

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Daniel Cooperman and Donald Rosenberg have seen a whole lot of high-profile corporate legal action.

Cooperman — the current general counsel for Oracle who earlier this year filed a lawsuit against SAP alleging that the German business applications giant stole proprietary information from Oracle — is replacing Rosenberg as general counsel for Apple effective November 1. Rosenberg, meanwhile, is taking the same position with Qualcomm.

Both attorneys have challeging work in front of them.

Cooperman will immediately have to help Apple’s Steve Jobs testify in a Securities and Exchange Commission case against former Apple general counsel Nancy Heinen. Heinen and former Apple CFO Fred Anderson are implicated as having coordinated Apple’s stock-options backdating issues. Rosenberg will have to deal with Qualcomm’s patent disputes with Broadcom and Nokia.

Just a little tidbit for those interested in the legal side of running big software companies.

September 26, 2007  12:09 PM

Finnigan enters third year of Oracle security blogging

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Well known Oracle security blogger Pete Finnigan, a frequent source of information for the news stories and podcasts we produce, is celebrating three years on the web. Happy anniversary, Pete.

Finnigan writes that when he started the blog, it was getting about 360 visits per day. But that number has risen to about 4800 in the time since.  Not bad at all.

Finnigan keeps up to date on the latest happenings in the world of Oracle security, and recently posted a five-part look at Oracle Database 11g security.  It’s something you might want to read as your company gets ready for the eventual move to 11g.

September 26, 2007  11:24 AM

If I were Larry…

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Oracle chairman and CEO Larry Ellison is beyond wealthy. According to the recently released Forbes 400 list, Ellison is the fourth richest man in America with an estimated net worth of $26 billion.

That’s a lot of cabbage. And it makes me wonder just what I’d do if I had that kind of dough.

Sure, I could buy up a whole bunch of property, open a restaurant, contribute to various charities or sponsor an America’s Cup team just like Larry, but who needs all that when there’s truly important work to be done. If it were me, I’d get a little bit more constructive with the funds. 

And so, without further ado, here’s a list of the top five things I’d do if I somehow became as rich as Larry:

1. Organize a campaign to get William Shatner elected to the U.S. presidency. (The time for change is now.)
2. Fund a consortium of scientists whose sole purpose is to get tasty whipped cream fillings injected into more foods.
3. Educate the world on why the Monkees are way better than the Beatles. (I don’t remember the Beatles ever having a wacky sitcom.)
4. Three words: Police Academy 8.
5. Build a time machine out of a DeLorean.

Well, that’s where I stand. How about you? What would you do if you had Larry Ellison’s bank account? Your choices may not be as high-brow and socially uplifting as mine, but you’ll think of something.

September 24, 2007  10:52 AM

Your Oracle wish list

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

If you had five wishes to improve Oracle, what would they be?

That’s the question several Oracle pros have been asking in the blogosphere recently. For example, consultant Chris Muir’s top 5 is as follows:

5. Fix the email .zip issue
4. Allow more OTN forum markups
3. Regular Oracle XE (Express) updates
2. Free ADF libraries for JDeveloper
1. Open Metalink to the web

And here is Mikael Gueck’s slightly more ambitious list:

5. A new, modern database product
4. Stop using PL/SQL for applications
3. An incredibly valuable support offering . . . for free
2. Get out of the application server and IDE “business”
1. Roll out standardized quality metrics, and automated quality measurement tools for every product and platform

A few more lists are floating around the blogosphere, including:

I know for a fact that Oracle reps do read our blog, so let’s see your top 5. You never know — your wish may come true!

Cheers, Tim

September 19, 2007  10:24 AM

Data warehouse pain is real, says Stonebraker

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

I’ve been reading The Database Column with great interest. The new blog features the writings of Mike Stonebraker, the co-creator of the influential Ingres and Postgres DBMSs.

In his latest post, Stonbraker, among other things, reiterates earlier comments on his belief that CIOs are facing some tough problems when it comes to data warehousing. He wrote:

“I have talked to perhaps 50 CIOs and warehouse DBAs over the last year.

Their pain is evident, and is due to:
Warehouse size is going up rapidly, and query complexity goes up at about the square of database size
Load volumes are going up rapidly, and load times increase linearly with volume

As a result, the typical warehouse administrator is:
Saying “no” to ad-hoc query requests from business intelligence users
Having increasing trouble loading data within the load window allotted”

Stonebraker goes on to say that the success of Teradata, Netezza and other hardware appliance is proof of the “extreme pain” in the data warehousing  market.

“Organizations who are not feeling great pain would never bring such custom iron into their shop with its resulting hardware lock-in and high prices,” he wrote.

September 19, 2007  9:34 AM

Oracle is “fundamentally flawed”

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

I received some interesting comments about my post Is the Oracle DBMS a legacy technology? from Mich Talebzadeh, a London-based independent Sybase consultant. Let me know what you think . . . .

There is a convincing argument these days to classify Oracle’s approach to handling both OLTP and OLAP type load as fundamentally flawed.

The argument is not so much that relational database management systems like Oracle “should be considered legacy technology” since they are more than a quarter of century old, but more to do with the philosophy and the design approach that they were created for. Twenty five years ago, and even ten years ago, databases were far smaller, on the order of a few gigabytes in size. They were dealing with a smaller community of users that were equally adding and reading data. This was the era of the transactional base databases in which the user — for example, a trader — was only interested in his/her own portfolio. Adding a few trades and reading them with some aggregates was fine and within the capability of the old optimiser, relying purely on nested-loop, join, etc. At that time, most RDBMS engines, including Sybase and others, did not even bother implementing sort-merge joins, never mind the hash-joins.

Things have moved on since then. Today’s systems and users deal much more with non-transactional (read) activity than with transactional (write/update) activity. An average trader today is not only interested in his/her portfolio but also interested in other portfolios and analytics, which requires sifting through millions of lines of records.

If I were to design a new database engine today, I would gear it towards OLAP type rather than OLTP type. I would probably make the deign *column-based* as opposed to row-based. A column-oriented system is a database management system that stores its content by column rather than by row. This has advantages for databases that most read data, such as data warehouses, plus adds the convenience of data compression, as Sybase IQ does. My argument would be that in today’s read-hungry world, an average user will read far more than he/she writes.

Going back to the approach of Oracle, it is becoming increasingly clear than *one size/one philosophy* does not fit all. When it comes to OLTP applications, we know well that Oracle is slower compared to Sybase (or Microsoft SQL Server for that matter). On the other hand, its transactional and concurrency approach is better suited for large volume of data. However, what it cannot do (although it tries very hard) is to adapt the relational model, which Oracle (much like Sybase and Microsoft SQL server) is based on, to handle what a column-based system inherently does much better!

Does that mean that Oracle and for that matter Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server are legacy systems? I don’t think so. All it means is that there is a limit that and you can take the relational model only so far. The RDBMSs are perfectly OK for certain things. However, the column-based systems are good for heavy read, low volume, transactional activity.

So what is the solution in a business world that is growing increasingly distributed and has to deal with the increased use of heterogeneous systems and proprietary databases across different levels of business? I genuinely think that we need to deploy tools for the purpose and relying on one engine philosophy (say RDBMS) solution is no longer viable. The solution is not to bolt a Ferrari and a bus together and create an all purpose vehicle, but more to use a Ferrari and a bus where appropriate. Today’s technology perfectly allow us to use a good RDBMS system like Sybase ASE for transactional activity with a column-based system like Sybase IQ. For that matter, you can use Oracle as an RDBMS and bolt it to Sybase IQ, if that’s what you have to do.

Mich tells me that he drives a Ferrari.

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