Eye on Oracle

September 13, 2007  11:08 AM

The Oracle DBMS is a “legacy technology”

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

Relational database management systems like Oracle “should be considered legacy technology; [they are] more than a quarter of century in age and ‘long in the tooth.'”

This is not from some random disgruntled crackpot. It’s from Mike Stonebraker, a relational/SQL DBMS pioneer in the 1970s and the co-creator of the influential Ingres and Postgres DBMSs, written in his new blog.

Essentially, Stonebraker is saying that column-oriented databases are much faster than “traditional” RDBMSs, especially in OLAP and data warehousing applications.  He claims that the new design (which is not really that new, since Sybase IQ and others already use it), combined with new compression techniques, result in performance that is 50 times better than row-oriented systems like Oracle.

But are column-oriented databases inherently faster, or is bad Oracle database design the root cause of the apparent difference?

Regardless, it turns out that Stonebraker has a new start-up whose product is (surprise!) a column-oriented DBMS. (I do like their clever slogan, however: “The tables have turned.”) Obviously, he has a vested interest in the downfall of Oracle, DB2 and the like. But is his critique just marketing bluster, or does he have a valid point? The blogosphere reaction is mixed: some are certainly crying foul that he is just pushing his product, while others agree that the RDBMS is dead. Still others take the middle road, agreeing that a row-wise design is better for OLTP, while column-wise is better for OLAP.

One wonders what Chris Date thinks about this “progress”?

Cheers, Tim

September 12, 2007  1:31 PM

netCustomer CEO makes case for third-party support

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Oracle’s charges of industrial espionage against SAP’s TomorrowNow arm have brought third-party support vendors into the limelight. Users want to know if they’re credible, if they’re honest and if they can really save a company as much money on support costs as they say they can.

This week we asked Punita Pandey, the CEO of netCustomer, to make an argument for third-party support. Before Oracle acquired PeopleSoft, netCustomer provided support for PeopleSoft customers through a direct contract with the CRM giant. The firm has since parted ways with Oracle and now offers its support services as a third-party.

Give it a read and let us know if you think she makes sense. Also, we’d like to know if you or your company would ever consider going with a third-party support provider? Why or why not? And if you have gone with a third-party support provider like netCustomer, Rimini St. or TomorrowNow, what has that experience been like? I’m interested to hear your opinions, because I’m sure they’ll be a big help as we continue to cover the Oracle-SAP case.

From Punita Pandey:

What’s wrong with this picture?

You consumed a good chunk of your IT budget in buying an enterprise applications suite.  You hired an IT consulting firm to implement the software. The implementation cost over 10 times what you paid for the software and took over a year to complete. Since the product had several shortcomings, you had to apply various patches, again using expensive IT consulting resources.  Then you invested in upgrading your IT team skills to manage this applications environment.  The vendor then asked you to upgrade to the next version to get all the features you had wanted.  Again, the upgrade project chewed up a lot of time and money.  Then you realized that several functions you needed were still missing in the latest version and you ended up customizing the code to suit your needs. 

It took a few more years in building all the features you wanted and stabilizing the applications environment. Then you run into an issue and you call the vendor for support. As soon as the support person finds out that your issue may be located in the customized portion of the code, they wash their hands off. You also realize that you may not want to upgrade to next version of the software since you have spent all this time customizing the setup.  Besides your applications environment is now stable and you do not want to deal with new bugs and instability that the new version will bring, not to mention the added cost of consulting services.

But you realize that you are still paying a hefty amount (up to 22% of your license fee) to the product vendor as support and maintenance fee. 

And you wonder why?

In a scenario like this, won’t you, the customer, think that you should a pay minimal fee for support and maintenance and be able to run your applications for as long as you want? After all these years in the software industry, won’t you expect the product vendor to innovate on the support front so it is hassle free and cost effective? Won’t you expect your IT consulting firm to offer you a pay-for-performance model and be able to deliver services on-demand without having to foot expensive hourly rates and travel expenses.

For years we have been behind-the-scenes support provider for several leading ERP vendors including PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. With the ongoing consolidation in the ERP space, we believe the time is right for us to offer our services directly to the end customers. After all, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.

September 10, 2007  10:08 AM

Are you afraid of hosted apps?

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

Oracle on Demand,” “software-as-a-service” (SaaS), “utility computing” — whatever buzzword you use, the long-hyped end of software finally seems to be gaining traction. Our recent survey of SearchOracle.com members revealed a surprisingly high 37% of you currently use hosted apps.

Does that concern you DBAs? Is this the beginning of the end of the in-house DBA?

For managers, Oracle’s pitch is compelling:

With more than 1.7 million users, including enterprise customers with the most rigorous requirements, Oracle On Demand simplifies enterprise computing by reducing the need to handle software upgrades, patches, and the day-to-day maintenance required to keep customer solutions available and secure.

. . . not to mention a lower TCO, including no six-figure salaries to those pesky senior DBAs.  It’s the “best of all worlds” as the Oracle site melodramatically puts it.

Unfortunately for DBAs, SaaS is likely to grow in the forseeable future. Oracle’s upcoming Fusion application suite is said to be heavily SOA- and SaaS-enabled. And Oracle is certainly not alone: other hosted apps include SAP’s A1S, IBM, NetSuite.com, SalesForce.com, Workday.com, and many others. Gartner predicts that the industry will be worth $10 billion by 2010, with 30% of software delivered using a SaaS model. It’s already a $400 million business for Oracle.

Worried yet? Perhaps you DBAs should think about moving to Austin, where Oracle’s massive data center for hosted apps is located. The 10,000 Linux servers running 10g and 2.5 petabytes of storage there should keep you busy until this whole SaaS thing blows over . . . or not.

Do you think that Oracle DBAs’ days are numbered because of the growth of On Demand? Or will it never really catch on due to security, reliability and customizability concerns? Do you think DBAs will always be needed, regardless of SaaS? Let’s hear your thoughts.


September 5, 2007  1:32 PM

What’s your Oracle story?

Ken Cline Profile: Clinek

Have you made an impact using Oracle in your organization? Have you accomplished any of the following tasks:

  • Significantly improved database or applications performance
  • Solved a major business dilemma or reduced budget spending
  • Automated or eliminated repetitive tasks
  • Generally think your Oracle work stands out from the rest of the pack

SearchOracle.com is planning a new case study series designed to spotlight Oracle professionals who have used Oracle in effective and innovative ways in various operating environments and industries, from government to education, healthcare to finance. And we want to hear from you.

If you would like to show off your Oracle accomplishments and how they have benefited your organization, e-mail us. Please include answers to the following questions:

  • What was the initial problem you were faced with?
  • Which Oracle products are you using?
  • What does your setup/configuration look like? Have you brought innovation to your infrastructure?
  • What technical benefits have you realized? Have you simplified or automated routine tasks?
  • What financial benefits — departmental or company-wide — have you realized?

If you’d like some recognition from your boss, or bragging rights for your peers, send in your nomination today!

Looking forward to hearing from you,


September 4, 2007  12:59 PM

Where’s MY Oracle ACE award?

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

In case you missed the great discussion in the comments on my post from last week, “Oracle ACE program “almost completely worthless,’” check out some highlights from the fray:

Useless? Not really . . . you get a free pass to OpenWorld. –Laurent Schneider

Oracle may well believe that it is nothing more than a badge for those who advocate Oracle, etc. However, some ACEs obviously see it as a meaningful and well-deserved Oracle accreditation of their amazing skills . . . Now that the “truth is out there,” I would expect any real Oracle pro who has an ACE award to send it back, and do something to rid themselves of the title. Including HJR! –John

I’m always suspicious of these self proclaimed ‘gurus.’ Most of them, in my experience, are your stereotypical glory hunters. The type who has to be the center of attention. “O look at me, I wrote a book” . . . “O look at me, I’m so underutilized at my job that I’ve had time to respond 5,000 times on OTN.” Smug, arrogant, full of their own sense of self importance and quite irritating. –Steve

Last December I received an ACE award. I have no clue who nominated me, or on what basis I was rewarded an ACE award . . . My first reaction when I received this award was: someone is making fun of me, this cannot be true. –Jacco Landlust

In plain language, it used to be a requirement to have technical proficiency to be an ACE, but that requirement has been dropped and transferred to the ACE Director level instead. That is why I called my original piece ‘Devalued.’ It’s got nothing to do with wanting to sneer at the peasants, look down my nose at people, etc. etc. It’s just an observation that when I got my ACE it meant one thing and now it means something else. –Howard Rogers

Thanks to all for commenting on this issue, especially Howard who raised the topic in the first place.


August 29, 2007  11:09 AM

Users sound off on Oracle support

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Last week I asked Oracle users to write in and tell me what they think about Oracle’s support services — and boy did they comply. Here are three of my favorite comments that came in which range from a very bad review of Oracle support to a very good one, with some interesting advice in between.

Which one of these guys do you agree with?

From Cliff Palmer:

“Oracle support is simply terrible. It takes days to get even moderately complex problems resolved, and the resolution is usually found by the customer, not the new hire with the metalink account that is a ‘support analyst.'”

From Daniel Morgan:

“My experience with Oracle support over the years has run the range from ‘they’ve got to be kidding’ to ‘fantastic.’ For the last couple of years I have been extremely happy with Oracle support and the metalink services in general. What I have found is that most of the time when DBAs and developers complain about the service it is because they are either asking for a free tutorial (I bought the car please teach me how to drive it) or they didn’t do their homework (what’s an RDA?). DBAs who follow ‘best practice’ guidelines and present clear and coherent explanations of what is wrong and attach an RDA get good service from someone with an appropriate level of expertise. The other guideline I use, and teach, is when opening an SR always attach a spool file that demonstrates what you’ve done to define the scope of the problem.”

From Roger Rosenblum

“My experience with Oracle Support is very positive. The SR’s are addressed quickly (if not I am kept informed why not) and the staff are very professional, courteous and very knowledgeable. It’s always a pleasure to work with them via web conference or email, or phone or just via the SR.”

August 28, 2007  10:37 AM

Oracle ACE program “almost completely worthless”

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Howard Rogers at Dizwell Informatics claims, with a sort-of apology to everyone he’s “unintentionally” insulting, that the Oracle ACE program, which used to mean something, “has been rendered almost completely worthless.”

Says he:

There’s a bunch of complete nobodies who nominated themselves for starters and got approved despite a paucity of any demonstrated technical skill or community contribution at all. […] In fact, it turns out that you can be a technically incompetent looney and still be an ACE, because all you now have to do to be an ACE is present a lot, write a lot, have OCP certification and be on the beta program … and there’s no mention of anyone, anywhere actually vetting any of that writing or presentation for technical accuracy. […] I am reminded of the fact that there was once a time when, albeit briefly, OCP actually meant something, too.

Ouchy. Sounds like Oracle certifications and awards are undergoing something akin to degree inflation, whereby “degrees are conferred on people who have not learned all they should have learned in order to earn their degrees” – and furthermore, it eventually becomes a necessity to have these credentials as a baseline (just to get hired), so that more and greater qualifications are required in order to stand out from the crowd.

What do you think? Is the Oracle ACE designation effectively meaningless now? Does it say anything about real technical knowledge and ability?


August 22, 2007  9:18 AM

Is Oracle supportive?

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

Over the past few months I’ve heard some mixed reviews from Oracle end users about Oracle’s support services.

Some folks I’ve spoken with say they get upset with certain Oracle support representatives who seem to be inexperienced. One person even went so far as to say that he purposely tries to get his problems elevated quickly so he can move up the ranks of Oracle support personnel. Others have said that they’re highly satisfied with Oracle on the support front.

Well, I’m writing a new article on the topic and I need to know what you think. Have you had a good experience with Oracle support overall or a bad one? Is Oracle support too expensive, or fairly priced? And would you ever consider going with a third party support provider like SAP’s TomorrowNow arm for your support needs? Why or why not?

Post your comments here and I’ll likely contact you to ask a few more questions for the article. Hope to hear from you soon.

— Mark

August 21, 2007  9:56 PM

Oracle bigger than Microsoft? The crowd responds

Derek Kuhr Derek Kuhr Profile: Derek Kuhr

The question of whether Oracle will become bigger than Microsoft has Oracle users talking. And it was a bit  surprising to see so may readers responding to my recent blog post on the topic. It seems that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s belief that his company will indeed overtake Microsoft caught the imaginations of more than a few. Here’s a slightly edited sampling of what some of our readers had to say:

From Rishi Raj Rastogi:

“It depends on what Larry means by becoming bigger. In terms of revenue, yes, it is possible for Oracle to move ahead of Microsoft in a few years time looking at the acquisitions. But if you look at the popularity or even the brand recognition factor then Microsoft is way ahead and will stay ahead of Oracle for many years to come. The reason being is very simple – Oracle is into specialized softwares/packages and a common man using a PC may/may not be aware of Oracle, but Microsoft has the advantage of the Windows OS and MS Office suite, which makes it known to even a simple PC user.”

From Sivadas Madhavan:

“I heard Larry Ellison speak at two Oracle OpenWorld conferences. Both times I came back thinking this guy has a chip on his shoulder. He simply hates being not as rich as Bill Gates. At least his yacht is bigger and better than Gates’s if he has one. As for Oracle bigger than MS? It ain’t going to happen anytime soon. Of course, Oracle can try to acquire MS. Now, won’t that be exciting!

From Tim Smith:

“I have worked on SQL Server 2005 writing stored procedures and I have worked on Oracle 9i doing the same and I will take Oracle any day. It’s the best. And all the applications and platforms that Oracle runs on makes it an awesome choice for companies of all sizes to use and grow with as the company expands. As far as Oracle getting bigger than MS, you bet it can! How many more new Operating Systems and Office suites can MS push out the door, with the advent of Open Source OSes and Offices? My bet is on Oracle.

From M. R. Wietelmann:

“It was not too many years ago that IBM was the dominant force in computers and IT. History has taught us anything can happen! Oracle PC’s? Hmm.”

August 20, 2007  12:16 PM

Oracle on Linux vs. SQL Server on Windows?

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Jack Loftus at the Enterprise Linux Log asks, “Does Oracle 11g mean more Linux?” I.e., why did Oracle choose to release the new Database 11g on Linux first? Sure, Linux is “here to stay” (blah blah), but can we dig a little deeper?

Loftus spoke to an analyst about whether Oracle is just “making bank off Linux” (a “huge moneymaker” for Oracle) or if it’s positioning itself against Microsoft (whose SQL Server offering is hot right now). According to Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna, Windows customers are a “lost cause” to Oracle – they’re happy with SQL Server and aren’t likely to switch. So Oracle may be angling for more Linux customers (and more Unbreakable Linux support revenue), while at the same time avoiding any more lost market share to Microsoft SQL Server.

Read Loftus’s full post.

And if you’re not totally sick of 11g yet, check out Eddie Awad’s list of 40+ links to blogs on Oracle 11g.


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