Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The 'X' Box

So did Larry miss the boat again? Gates introduced the X-box years ago and its a house hold name. So what's fascinating with this new 'X' box? Joking aside, let's look deep into the Oracle/HP Database Platform based on the Exadata. Larry compared it to Teradata and Netezza in his keynote. No doubt DW appliances have been out for a while and were giving Oracle run for money in the very large DW environments. Oracle's history has been as a key database player for transactional/OLTP systems. While the database features like partitioning, bit-mapped indexes, support for upto 32K block size etc have slowly tried to transform the DB for DW market, till now Oracle was never really looked upon as a DW player in the same league as Teradata or Netezza... and the key note is a proof of that.

Interestingly, what about HP. "Operational business intelligence drives business outcomes HP Neoview has industry unique, patented capabilities to make it the premier enterprise data warehouse for operational business intelligence." In the yesterday years Scott McNealy of Sun was a regular keynote speaker in OOW. So it's interesting to note that Oracle shook hands with HP, on this DW appliance. It is sold by Oracle, serviced by HP. So what is the future of Neoview? HP lists its Neoview BI partners here but Oracle is not part of that list. Neoview is also supposed to be on Open platform using industry-standard components, which is something Larry used for Oracle Platform as different from Teradata and Netezza.

On the positive side, for the Oracle shops, now its a one stop shop. "BI in a Box" seems reality now. I remeber in my DBA days, I spend hours with our performance and benchmark expert, tunning the SAN, moving the data files around to squeeze the performance out of the EMC Clarion SAN. As human time get's more important (yes 80% of BI/DW project costs is human time), paying for a DW appliance as an insurance policy to higher speeds is a better option. The DW community around Oracle is very happy that first time Oracle has truly "created" something for the DW data bottlenecks. Yet, the box is a good fit for the OLTP databases as well.

Where does all these leave SAP, IBM and Microsoft? SAP has been selling a BI accelerator card for a while along with its SAP Business Warehouse (BW) solution to speed up the performance. IBM is a key player in the Optimised Datawarehouse initiative for Oracle where it wil ship a machine pre-loaded with Oracle Database for a any range between 1-100 TB, for use as a data warehouse box. Other players in that Oracle's initiative are Dell/EMC, Sun, HP, SGI etc. Well it was July '08, that Gates acquired the company called DataAllegro, whose tag line was data at the speed of business. However, we are yet to see SQl Server as the platform of choice for very large DW's.

Now that we have looked at all the major players, it seems everyone has there hand in the game. Let's wait and see how the other large players plan their market strategy against Larry in the weeks and months to come.