Maclochlainn's Weblog

Michael McLaughlin's Old Technical Blog

Oracle OpenWorld 2008 – Day 3

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Key Note and News:

There were two big announcements today. The one that I liked the most was what Andy Mendelsohn said, that there will be an Oracle Database 11g Express Edition. You can read the full report in the NY Times. You’ll also find that no date for 11gR2 is available but the beta code must be very close since they’re seeking beta testers.

The second announcement was the big “X” secret alluded to for Larry Ellison’s key note. Larry basically announced the HP Oracle Exadata Storage Server and HP Oracle Database Machine. There seems to be some cynicism about it, but it sounds interesting.

The general idea is to tightly couple hardware and software platforms. Integration of the two components simplifies delivery by reducing complexity, and increases performance for high throughput uses of the Oracle Database. It really makes sense.

For example, if you look at Steve Jobs’ success at Apple (this time around) that’s exactly what he did. He simplified the number of offerings, focused on the quality of hardware and software, and limited the risk of hardware and software incompatibility. Apple seems to clearly dominate the highend market, or at least it made an awesome showing at Oracle OpenWorld 2008 (by my anecdotal eyeballing of machines).

The last point is very close to what Larry’s proposing. By focusing efforts on high load OLTP and data warehouse installations with a one-two punch of integrated hardware and software, Oracle can become more scalable without creating different database engines. More or less, Oracle achieves higher throughput by leveraging hardware with the same product. This means he leverages a great product across new markets (probably IBM’s existing markets), without increasing the number of offerings. He one-ups Steve Jobs because he makes the hardware HP’s problem. Deming (that quality engineering guy) might say Larry risks success by ceding hardware components to a supplier. I don’t think the risk is any greater than the risk Apple has in ceding component manufacturing. The question is: Can HP manage the process as well as Apple now that Carly Fiorina is gone?

Humorous or prophetic, does this shift in platform have a hidden benefit as great as changing from the PowerPC to Intel processor. I don’t see it but this may be a beginning … What I can see immediately, is that configuring a RAC environment may become much easier if everything is prebundled.

Virtualization:

As you know from my blog posts, I really like virtualization software. So, … it’s probably not a surprise that I spent some time talking virtual machines with my favorite vendor – VMWare.

While hanging there and collecting more information on options, I met Dave Welch. Dave is a consumate maven of virtualization with Oracle and Oracle eBusiness Suite deployments. He had some awesome performance statistics that I’m still digesting. Basically, he debunked a lot of rubish that’s out there about overhead. He works for House of Brick Technologies out of Omaha, Nebraska. Dave actually demonstrated VMWare Stage Manager and VMWare Lab Manager, and told us about the bundling of these two into a suite. They appear a great soltuion to managing and deploying virtual machines. If you’re wondering were the VMWare folks were, don’t worry they were busy somewhere else.

Probably the coolest feature that I saw was how you could clone an Oracle eBusiness Suite for testing and move it to a virtual subnet without cloning. You can do this because the virtual subnet preserves the hostname, IP, et cetera. However, it’s not a cheap date but they’ve a reduced price for next few months. Isn’t that marketing the rule for products at Oracle OpenWorld?

While I like and use VMWare, Sun Microsystems VirtualBox appears very interesting. It also supports the Mac, which makes it a high priority in my testing queue. I’ll let you know what I find. The RedHat entrant in virtualization is Solid ICE. Another item for my list, oh gosh … it keeps on growing.

Business Judgment:

I have to give a business acumen prize to Wells Fargo Bank. Having spent the first 10 years of my career at First Interstate Bank working on the evolution of banking systems, I learned the key rule about technology. Technology has to pay for itself by increasing revenue or decreasing costs.

Wells Fargo Bank focused on an API that lets commercial accounts leverage banking services without human intervention. Their focus is to put the technology out there and leave their customers with the implementation costs, customization, and business process engineering. A sharp decision from my perspective but they could have gone one step further. They should have considered placing it in the open source community. The software ultimately has a very short competitive edge, and the return on initial investment would have been higher if they’d capitalized on the creativity of the open source community.

The prize for continuing product evolution through the open source community probably goes to SugarCRM. They place components into their product versions and then into their version of sourceforge (www.sugarforge.org). There, the community can examine, innovate, and improve the software.

Open Source:

I had a chance to catch up with Chris Jones on PHP and open source scripting. Chris and Alice Holloway provide that wonderful book on PHP known as the Underground PHP and Oracle Manual. It’s great to catch up on Oracle’s commitment to Open source. Remember my favorite news of the day – Oracle Database 11g Express Edition is coming. That’s evidence that Oracle sees the open source community as important and PHP and scripting languages as valuable.

In summary, I’d like to thank TUSC for their courtesy in broadcasting Larry’s key note from their demonstration area. They’re truly a class act! Tomorrow, it’s time to go home. Naturally, I gave the party ticket away to somebody who would enjoy it. The last official day of Oracle OpenWorld 2008 must be left to another to report on …

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Written by maclochlainn

September 25, 2008 at 5:56 am

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