The Database Report – January 2011

Another year is behind us – and not only that, another decade. That’s right, we have now completed the first decade of the 21st century. And fortunately for those of us who rely on them for our livelihood, database management systems are still at the forefront of enterprise computing.

The past year, 2010, was another active and entertaining year for fans of data and database systems. As usual, the highlights of the year were the acquisitions and lawsuits; and the fourth quarter of 2010 gave us more of both. So as we bravely embark upon another New Year, let’s take some time to review the happenings in the DBMS marketplace during the past quarter.

Oracle Wins a Big OneTo begin our coverage of the fourth quarter of 2010 with anything other than the Oracle lawsuit against SAP would be crazy. Those of you who are regular readers of this column likely remember that Oracle has been pursuing a lawsuit against SAP alleging theft of trade secrets. The lawsuit was filed way back in 2007, and it came to trial this quarter. Justice sure moves slowly, doesn’t it?

Basically, Oracle alleged that SAP stole “thousands of proprietary, copyrighted software products and other confidential materials that Oracle developed to service its own support customers.” The “theft” was conducted by employees of TomorrowNow, a now-shuttered subsidiary of SAP. Basically, Oracle is claiming that SAP repeatedly accessed proprietary information from Oracle’s customer support website and that SAP was not authorized to do so. If you want to read the entire complaint is available online at:

So then, just before the case is about to come to trial, SAP admitted contributory liability in a court filing. In other words, SAP changed its story. Earlier in the year, SAP admitted wrongdoing on TomorrowNow’s part, but not its own. Oracle was consistent in claiming that SAP was involved and knew about the infringement.

After the SAP admission, Oracle released the following statement: “SAP management has insisted for three and a half years of litigation that it knew nothing about SAP’s own massive theft of Oracle’s intellectual property. Today, SAP has finally confessed it knew about the theft all along. The evidence at trial will show that the SAP Board of Directors valued Oracle’s copyrighted software so highly, they were willing to steal it rather than compete fairly.” In other words, Oracle smelled blood!

SAP’s attorneys offered up a letter to the court stating, “It makes good sense to eliminate the issue now, because whether SAP is contributory liable or not does not affect damages at trial at all, and keeping the issue in the case would only satisfy Plaintiffs’ desire to turn the upcoming trial into a sideshow, focused on people and companies who are not even parties to this dispute.”

So the Oracle point of view was that SAP was confessing its guilt; the SAP point of view was that it was trying halt a “media circus.” But, of course, media circuses are not easy to halt, are they?

As the trial progresses, Oracle’s witnesses kept trying to paint the picture of Oracle being severely wronged with substantial losses; the SAP story was that Oracle did not incur significant losses because of TomorrowNow’s activities. And that was important because Oracle’s trial brief states that the “fair market value” of stolen software is $2 billion; of course, SAP’s estimates were substantially lower, in the tens of millions.

Oracle then used the SAP statement to try to delay the trial, which the judge rejected. The judge also rejected a request made by SAP that lawyers from both sides should not be allowed to talk to the media.

The trial got underway in early November. And then we heard about an agreement that “stipulates to entry of judgment on Oracle’s claims for violations of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California’s Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, breach of contract, intentional interference, negligent interference, unfair competition, trespass to chattels, unjust enrichment/restitution and an accounting.” So SAP agreed to pay Oracle’s attorney fees ($120 million) by November 9th. In return, Oracle would not seek punitive damages against SAP. The jury in the case was instructed to consider “only those damages available under the Copyright Act.”

So the case came down to a simple jury judgment on how much SAP should pay Oracle for copyright infringement. Well, simple is stretching the matter. There were witnesses to testify in turns bombastic, woeful, and entertaining.

SAP tried to belittle the issue indicating that 358 PeopleSoft customers became TomorrowNow customers, and that 200 of those would not have left Oracle if it were not for TomorrowNow. SAP pegged the damage for those lost customers at $32 million. And SAP further intimated that 86 of those 358 became SAP customers, but almost all of those would have left Oracle anyway. It has evidence to this effect for all except two of those customers. Oracle volleyed with 270 as the number of lost customers.

At another point Oracle’s attorney exposed an SAP memo from then-executive Shai Agassi that indicated the desire to lower Oracle’s share price by 10%. And with the dexterity of an arithmetician, Oracle’s counsel stated that Oracle’s valuation at the time was about $70b so SAP’s quest was to impart $7 billion worth of damage on Oracle. Of course, SAP was not successful in this mission, but it helped to paint them as more a villain, right?

For the technical among us, the discussion of TomorrowNow’s Titan tool may be more interesting than legal gymnastics. This automated tool searched through support documents, continuously answered “No” when asked if the document solved the problem. And that would lead to another set of documents. And so on, and so one, allowing the company to downloaded thousands of support documents. Clearly that was not the intended usage of Oracle’s online support system.

The testimony of Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison, was interesting. He claimed that TomorrowNow’s actions cost Oracle as much as 15% of Siebel customers and 30% of PeopleSoft customers. Ellison believed that nearly $4 billion worth of customer relationships were at risk because of TomorrowNow’s infringement. When cross-examined by SAP’s attorney that Oracle internal documents did not back up those claims, Ellison matter of factly stated that he did not tend to write down worst case scenarios. And he coyly added, “I publicly told SAP they had to respect our intellectual property.”

Oracle President Safra Catz had what was probably the best sound bite during the entire trial. Responding to SAP’s defense that it only paid $10 million for TomorrowNow, Catz said, “It’s like I bought a $15 crowbar, then I break into a house and clean it out. What I pay for the crowbar is irrelevant.” Priceless… and accurate.

Things evidently got even nuttier as reports surfaced that Oracle had paid private investigators to hunt down Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker to testify. Why would Oracle want HP’s CEO to testify in this trial? Well, Apotheker is the also the former CEO of SAP, and Oracle believed he had seen reports of TomorrowNow’s infringement.

But enough of the courtroom gyrations. As entertaining as they may be, the crux of the matter lies in the jury’s decision. And it was a big one. Not as big as some of the figures that Oracle was bandying about, but vindication for Oracle nonetheless. After three years of legal maneuvering, the trial ended with the jury awarding Oracle $1.3 billion.

The jury had to choose between two methods of determining the damages. First, a hypothetical negotiation that would have taken place on the day SAP acquired TomorrowNow, with both sides having full knowledge of each others’ intentions. Oracle, then, would have known that SAP’s business assumptions included a three-year plan to entice PeopleSoft and JD Edwards customers to TomorrowNow support, get them to purchase other SAP software (like NetWeaver), and then convert them to SAP ERP and other enterprise applications. SAP planned to make almost $900 million over three years through this plan, called Safe Passage.

Is it finally over? I doubt it. SAP will most likely appeal the verdict. This could go on for years folks. SAP surely wants to avoid paying a sum of $1.3 billion to its biggest competitor. And Oracle? Oh, they’d like to take that money, but if Oracle can keep dragging Leo Apotheker into this insanity, all the better for them. It would be crazy to think that Oracle, proud new owners of Sun Microsystems, wouldn’t like to see HP’s new CEO get sullied… so keep an eye on future editions of The Database Report for news of what happens next.

IBM Acquires NetezzaProbably the second biggest story of the quarter actually started in the third quarter of 2010, and that is the acquisition of Netezza Corporation by IBM. Late in September, IBM made public its bid to acquire Netezza, a data warehouse appliance vendor, for $1.7 billion in cash. The $1.7 billion figure worked out to $27 per Netezza share.

Netezza’s technology enables organizations to process enormous amounts of captured data at exceptional speed, providing a significant competitive and operational advantage in today’s data-intensive industries, including digital media, energy, financial services, government, health and life sciences, retail and telecommunications. “Netezza strongly complements our business analytics capabilities and client base,” said Steve Mills, IBM Software and Systems Senior Vice President. With IBM’s strong push into analytics, purchasing Netezza makes a lot of sense.

Although the term “analytics” can be somewhat nebulous, it basically refers to better using and analyzing corporate data to gain insight into behavior and operations. With a broad interpretation, it can encompass not only business intelligence and data warehousing, but also information integration and other software including certain types of applications. IBM has spent in excess of $12 billion over the last four years acquiring more than 20 companies with analytics-related offerings (for example, Cognos, SPSS and more recently Coremetrics). IBM also has more than 6,000 professional services employees devoted to working on analytics.

Netezza was already an IBM partner, designing and developing its appliances on IBM systems technology. The two companies have been strategic partners for a number of years focused on workload optimized systems that deliver integrated systems, software and storage for analyzing vast amounts of complex data. This, I’m sure, helped to rapidly close the deal.

With this acquisition complete (the deal closed during Q4), IBM can add Netezza’s TwinFin data warehouse appliance product line to its analytics product line. So how many database and date warehouse systems does IBM offer now? Well, we all know about IMS and DB2 and Informix. Then there is the open source offering, Cloudscape (Derby); the in-memory DBMS offering, Solid; and now the data warehouse appliance offering. Did I forget anything? Probably.

It will be interesting to see how IBM brands Netezza TwinFin. I suppose they will re-name it InfoSphere this or Optim something-or-other. IBM also has its own line of data warehouse offerings (IBM Smart Analytics System, or ISAS), but they did not have anything like the easy-to-use Netezza appliance offering. ISAS requires more configuration, but is also more flexible.

I wonder how IBM sales people decide what products to recommend and under what circumstances? My head hurts just thinking about it.

Anyway, at the time of acquisition, Netezza boasted 350 enterprise users and employed 500 or so individuals worldwide. Combined into IBM’s already formidable arsenal of analytics offerings, IBM has to be considered a leader in this category of data management solutions.

Other Acquisitions in the Fourth QuarterIn mid-October, IBM announced that it would be purchasing e-discovery vendor PSS Systems. The PSS technology is compliance related, enabling organizations to track documents that are legally mandated to be retained. It also provides for policies to be created for the effective maintenance of documents within regulatory obligations.

The PSS Systems’ portfolio further bolsters IBM governance, risk, and compliance offerings. This deal follows closely on the heels of IBM’s purchase of OpenPages, another compliance related vendor, last quarter. The OpenPages software helps organizations to more easily identify and manage governance, risk and compliance activities across the enterprise through a single management system.

And then a few days later in October, IBM acquired Clarity Systems, a privately held company based in Toronto, Canada. Clarity Systems is a provider of financial governance software that enables organizations to automate the processing of financial statements in support of SEC mandates. No financial terms were disclosed.

Rob Ashe, general manager, business analytics, IBM said: “Clarity Systems extends IBM’s business analytics capabilities to the office of finance by enabling organizations to help businesses automate complex governance processes, improve data accuracy and provide the foundation for addressing a wide array of regulatory reporting mandates.”

The Clarity Systems solutions will be marketed within IBM’s Business Analytics software portfolio. Obviously, IBM is intent on building its governance and analytics portfolio. Over the past four years IBM has invested more than $14 billion to build a dominant position in the data analytics market. This is sometimes lost amid the more ubiquitous coverage of Oracle’s many (and impressive) acquisitions over the same stretch.

But Oracle was not quiet in the fourth quarter of 2010 either. In early October, Oracle announced its intention to buy Passlogix, a provider of enterprise single sign on solutions that assist in identity management security. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Driven by regulatory mandates, organizations are being pressured to provide stronger authentication mechanisms while reducing the number of passwords required,” said Amit Jasuja, vice president, Oracle Identity Management. “Passlogix and Oracle have had a successful OEM relationship for more than three years and have many of the same customers. With the addition of Passlogix, we expect to provide a complete enterprise-scale identity management solution and be able to provide more global reach and support resources to customers.”

The Passlogix technology will be used to add enterprise single sign on and network authentication capabilities to the Oracle Identity Management Suite.

Also in October, Oracle acquired the intellectual property assets of DataScaler, a provider of a distributed database technology. DataScaler is a privately held company based in Cupertino, CA. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

And toward the end October, Oracle announced that it had purchased a 10.2% stake in Infiniband vendor Mellanox Technologies.

Mellanox’s InfiniBand is a switch fabric for enterprise data centers and high performance computing. It purports to offer superior scalability, higher throughput and lower latency in comparison to alternative communications technologies. Oracle and Mellanox had an existing strategic partnership that allowed Oracle to incorporate Mellanox’s InfiniBand products to into Oracle solutions like Exadata and Exalogic. Mellanox also intends to make Oracle Solaris a core supported operating system platform to help meet increasing customer demand.

A few days later, in early November, Oracle announced plans to acquire e-commerce vendor Art Technology Group through a cash merger for $6.00 per share, or approximately $1.0 billion. ATG’s solutions enable enterprises to provide a cohesive online customer experience with sophisticated merchandising, marketing, content personalization, automated recommendations, and live-help services.

“Bringing together the complementary technologies and products from Oracle and ATG will enable the delivery of next-generation, unified cross-channel commerce and CRM,” said Thomas Kurian, Executive Vice President Oracle Development.

ATG’s eCommerce software platform is complementary to Oracle’s CRM, ERP, Retail, and Supply Chain applications, as well as its portfolio of middleware and business intelligence technologies. The transaction is subject to stockholder and regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close by early 2011.

Financial Results for the Big ThreeIn late October Microsoft announced record first-quarter revenue of $16.20 billion for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2010, a 25% increase from the same period of the prior year. Operating income, net income and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $7.12 billion, $5.41 billion and $0.62 per share, which represented increases of 59%, 51% and 55%, respectively, when compared with the prior year period. During the quarter, Microsoft saw year-over-year growth across all business segments.

Microsoft also reaffirmed its operating expense guidance of $26.9 billion to $27.3 billion for the entire fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2011.

“This was an exceptional quarter, combining solid enterprise growth and continued strong consumer demand for Office 2010, Windows 7, and Xbox 360 consoles and games,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “Our ability to grow revenue while continuing to control costs allowed us to deliver another quarter of year-over-year margin expansion.”

During the earnings call, Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein indicated that the server and database businesses had strong momentum with Microsoft’s data center and cloud offerings remaining a top priority for customers. In addition, Windows Azure had strong subscription growth. The Server and Tools segment, where Microsoft SQL Server resides, posted 12% revenue growth.

Furthermore, Microsoft envisions fiscal year 2011 growth for the Server and Tools division to track with hardware shipments. They anticipate multi-year licensing revenue growth in the low-double digits, with services growth in the mid-single digits.

Also in October, IBM released it third quarter 2010 financial results. Things were looking good in Armonk, too, with third-quarter 2010 diluted earnings of $2.82 per share, compared with diluted earnings of $2.40 per share in the third quarter of 2009. This represents an increase of 18%.

Third-quarter net income was $3.6 billion compared with $3.2 billion in the third quarter of 2009, an increase of 12%. Total revenues for the third quarter of 2010 of $24.3 billion increased 3% from the same quarter in 2009.

“In the third quarter we grew revenue in our hardware, software and services businesses, expanded margins and again increased earnings per share at double digits,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Looking ahead, we are uniquely positioned in the enterprise, investing in high value segments like business analytics, advanced systems and smarter planet solutions. As a result, we are confident we can deliver strong business performance to grow profit, return value to our shareholders and to achieve full-year 2010 diluted earnings per share of at least $11.40.”

IBM expanded gross margin by 20 basis points, driven by better margins in Software and Systems and Technology. And the company managed to do this while keeping expenses low; expense was up 1% year to year. Based on the company’s third quarter performance, IBM increased its earnings expectation for the full year of 2010 to at least $11.40 of earnings per share, up 15 cents from the previous guidance offered.

It was a strong quarter for IBM’s mainframe business, too. System z revenue grew 15% year to year and gained share. MIPS grew by 54%, which is the highest growth rate in six years. This is likely attributable to the third quarter shipment of the new zEnterprise 196 server, which delivers 40% more performance than the former top-of-the-line z10 machine. Looks like the z196 is going gangbusters, further discrediting those who would write off the mainframe for dead.

Although IBM’s overall software revenue was basically flat as compared to the same quarter last year, the Information Management brand, which encompasses DB2, Informix, and IBM’s other data management software, grew 5% year over year. During its earnings call, IBM offered that the Relational Database component of the Information Management brand grew 5% at constant currency, driven by 7% constant currency growth in distributed database.

Which brings us to Oracle, and the company’s fiscal 2011 first quarter results were also quite positive. Fiscal Q1 total revenues were up 48% to $7.5 billion; new software license revenues were up 25% to $1.3 billion. Software license updates and product support revenues were up 11% to $3.5 billion. And Oracle’s Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of $0.05 per share of outstanding common stock to be paid to stockholders of record as of the close of business on October 6, 2010, with a payment date of November 3, 2010.

“Our software business grew strongly in all regions with new license sales up 25%,” said Oracle President, Safra Catz. “Our hardware business also grew faster than we expected with Sun Solaris servers and Exadata leading the way.”

Database and middleware revenue grew at a 17% clip (From $2.7 billion to $3.253 billion), while revenue from Oracle’s application business grew 10% year over year (from $1.052 billion to $1.134 billion).

So “The Big Three” DBMS vendors experienced strong quarters all around.

New Software Releases During the Fourth QuarterOn the technology front there were several announcements and new releases of interest to data management folks. Topping this list was the latest and greatest version of IBM’s mainframe DBMS, DB2 10 for z/OS.

Although it is laden with new features and functionality, which we will discuss in a moment, IBM is aggressively touting the out-of-the-box performance gains delivered by DB2 10. Early adopters are experiencing up to 40% performance improvements accompanied by up to 10 times more scalability to manage future growth. This is important to IBM because it translates into cost savings for its high end mainframe customers.

Let’s take a moment to highlight some of the more interesting new features of DB2 10 for z/OS:

Continuous availability enhancements: DB2 10 provides more online schema enhancements enabling changes to be made to database objects without having to unload the data, drop and re-create the objects, regenerate all of the security authorizations, re-create the views, and reload the data. Instead, all of the changes are materialized when the altered objects are reorganized.In addition, DB2 10 improves the usability and performance of online reorganization in several key ways. It supports the reorganization of disjoint partition ranges of a partitioned table space, and improves SWITCH phase performance and diagnostics. Also, DB2 10 removes restrictions related to the online reorganization of base table spaces that use LOB (large object) columns.

Security enhancements: This release of DB2 provides critical enhancements to security and auditing, strengthening DB2 security in the z/OS environment. For example, DB2 10 provides increased granularity for DB2 administrative authority, and offers a new DB2 data security solution that enables you to manage access to a table at the level of a row, a column, or both. In addition, you can define and create different audit policies to address the various security needs of your business.
SQL improvements: SQL enhancements deliver new function for improved productivity, consistency with DB2 implementations on other platforms, and simplified porting applications to mainframe DB2 from other platforms and database management systems. Enhancements are provided for SQL scalar functions and SQL table functions are added. Native SQL procedure language (SQL PL) enhancements make porting easier from other database management systems. Implicit casting makes porting simpler, as DB2 SQL is more consistent with other products and platforms. Allowing more flexibility in the number of digits for fractions of seconds and allowing timestamps with time zones simplify porting. Moving sums and moving averages help in warehouse queries and in porting. Now it is easier than ever to use DB2 for z/OS and System z for all of your core enterprise data serving needs.

Temporal tables and versioning: DB2 10 for z/OS adds significant functionality and of flexibility in how you can query data based on periods of time. DB2 supports two types of periods: system time and business time. The system time period is a system-maintained period in which DB2 maintains the beginning and ending timestamp values for a row. For the business time period, the user maintains the beginning and ending values for each row. Support of business time and system time allows for significant simplification of applications, pushing the complicated handling of these concepts down to the database engine itself.

In addition, DB2 10 introduces versioning, which is the process of keeping historical versions of rows for a temporal table that is defined with a system time period, or both system and business time periods. This allows for simple retrieval of key historical data, which is a growing compliance requirement.

Hash organized tables: Hashing comes to DB2 in this version. This is a new option for organizing tables that improves performance of queries that need to look up an individual row (for example, retrieving a customer number or employee number). Hashing has been around since the early days of IT, but not in DB2 (or most relational DBMS products). With hashing, certain types of access can be improved significantly.
pureXML improvements: The previous version of DB2 introduced pureXML as a method of storing native XML data in DB2 tables. This release of DB2 substantially improves productivity for pureXML users. For example, DB2 10 offers improvements for the binary XML format, XML schema validation as a built-in function, XML date and time data types and functions, XML parameters in routines, and more.
Additional improvements: New SQL and XML capabilities can provide improved productivity for application developers (both for new applications and for those ported from other platforms). Automating, reducing, or eliminating tasks, and avoiding manual invocation improves productivity and can help avoid problems. And for this release, you can skip over Version 9, migrating directly from a DB2 Version 8 subsystem to Version 10. This provides customers greater flexibility to meet their business needs. A new version of the QMF BI tool is also being made available with the new version of DB2.

So as you can see, this is a significant new release of DB2 for the mainframe. However, it is not the only new software released this past quarter. Also from IBM, business intelligence and analytics tool, Cognos, was released toward the end of October amid much hoopla at the annual IBM Information On Demand conference in Las Vegas. IBM has made many advancements to Cognos since its acquisition three years ago. Among the new features in Cognos 10 are:

  • An improved, more intuitive user interface (instead of the multiple “studios” of past releases);
  • Data wizards for incorporating external data (such as from spreadsheets);
  • Dynamic query analyzer for troubleshooting and tuning queries in Cognos;
  • And quite a bit more including business insight for dashboarding, active reports, lifecycle manager, and improved charting capabilities.

Overall a nice update to one of the leading BI tools on the market.

IBM also unleashed a new version of Informix Version 11.7. Highlighting this new point release is the scalability offered by the Flexible Grid feature. Additional features in Informix 11.7 include multi-index scans, star join optimization and “Forest of Trees” indexes. Of course, performance was also improved, with IBM touting its integrated Time Series feature’s ability to work with streaming data.

In early November, Microsoft previewed some of the features of the next version of Microsoft SQL Server, code-named Denali. As is its usual custom, Microsoft delivered the preview on CD or via download as a Community Technology Preview release. Of course, a preview is not a full blown actual release, but there were some interesting new features being touted including column-store technology, a Web-based data visualization and reporting tool, and AlwaysOn functionality designed to increase availability. The AlwaysOn functionality appears to be aimed at competing with Oracle’s RAC technology. We will examine Denali in more details when it becomes generally available.

In early November, SAP announced a beta version of its column-oriented database system, Sybase IQ, to run on massively parallel processing (MPP) architectures. This happened on the same day that Microsoft announce its MPP version of SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse.

In October, at its Teradata Partners’ Users Conference, Teradata unleashed a new version of its database system. The company highlighted its improved support for “big data” and “big analytics.” Similar to IBM’s support in DB2 10 for z/OS described earlier in this section, Teradata Database 13.10 boasts temporal capabilities, enabling users to recreate information from selected points in time. Automated temporal data management eliminates the need to manually manage and update effective or validity dates each time the data is modified, loaded or updated. The Teradata Database automatically executes the complex modifications and inserts the required data to maintain a complete change history when a user submits a simple update command. In addition, temporal intelligence is built into the Teradata Optimizer, meaning users are not required to use complex SQL, or structured query language, to get answers to their time-based business questions. Automated data management and simplified queries reduce data errors, simplify application development, and open temporal data analysis up to business users. Temporal analytics provide powerful capabilities for various types of customers requiring complex historical tracking and analysis functions.

Another nice new Teradata features include advanced and flexible data compression options that Teradata claims can provide as much as 20 times more data. An interesting option here is the flexibility to use the optimal compression mechanism for specific data types.

Additional features in Teradata Database 13.10 include:

  • New analytic functions and expanded capabilities within the Teradata Open Parallel Framework that improve precision analysis and application performance.
  • Teradata Viewpoint, a single, web-based portal for managing Teradata systems, queries, and workloads.
  • Improved geospatial processing.
  • An Eclipse plug-in that integrates with existing application development environments.

The Teradata Database 13.10 is the high performing analytical engine that powers all of the company’s “purpose-built” platform members: Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse, the Data Warehouse Appliance, Extreme Performance Appliance, Extreme Data Appliance, and the Data Mart Appliance. In addition to the five members of the Teradata Purpose-Built Platform family, Teradata Database 13.10 is also available as the software only Data Mart Edition and Teradata Express for cloud computing solutions.

Of course, Oracle made some product related news during the quarter, too. At Oracle Open World, the company announced Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud, which it claims is the “world’s only integrated middleware machine.” Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud is comprised of high performance x86 hardware, Oracle WebLogic Server, and Exalogic software. It is delivered pre-configured and requires minimum setup. You can think of it as conceptually similar to the Oracle Exadata Database Machine, but for cloud computing. It offers a cloud application infrastructure for a wide range of Java and non-Java application types and workloads.

“Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud is a complete system of servers, network, storage, VM, operating system and middleware, all engineered to work together,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. “This delivers stunning results, including the fastest Java performance, elastic capacity on demand and a completely fault tolerant system.”

And last, but not least, Oracle unleashed MySql 5.5. The company had announced a release candidate version at the Oracle Open World conference in September. And in mid-December MySQL 5.5 was officially launched via webcast. The focus of the release is performance with initial benchmark tests showing gains of up to 1500% for read-write operations and up to 500% for read-only operations (on Windows platforms).

Other new capabilities of MySQL 5.5 include:

  • Improved scalability on multi-core CPUs;
  • Diagnostic improvements including DTrace probes, expanded SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS output, and a new status variable;
  • Two new MySQL authentication capabilities: pluggable authentication and proxy users;
  • Support for an interface for semisynchronous replication;
  • Support for the SQL standard SIGNAL and RESIGNAL statements;
  • Two new types of user-defined partitioning: RANGE COLUMNS and LIST COLUMNS. Each of these extensions provides two enhancements to MySQL partitioning capabilities: (1) the ability to define partitioning ranges or lists based on DATE, DATETIME, or string values, and (2) for tables defined using these partitioning types, partition pruning can now optimize queries with WHERE conditions that use multiple comparisons between (different) column values and constants;
  • And many additional tweaks and improvements.

And In Other News This Quarter…It was indeed a busy quarter. We’ve already covered quite a bit of news but let’s quickly touch on a few additional highlights of the quarter.

In mid-October, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect, announced his exit from the company. Although not as popular a figure as Microsoft’s last Chief Software Architect, Ozzie is a true visionary. He worked on the first spreadsheet, VisiCalc, and authored the Lotus Symphony office suite for Lotus. He developed Lotus Notes and formed Groove Networks around his vision of Groove Virtual Office. Microsoft bought Groove five years ago and promoted Ozzie a year later. And now he’s gone…

And there were additional legal issues this quarter, too. If you read last quarter’s edition of The Database Report you know that Oracle filed a patent and copyright infringement complain against Google, Inc. regarding its alleged appropriation of Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property. In October, Google responded denying all of Oracle’s claims and petitioning the court to dismiss Oracle’s lawsuit. Google also claims that Oracle (Sun) failed to enforce the patents and copyrights for so many years that Google was justified in believing that using Java without permission was allowed. So Google may be angling for the court to throw out Oracle’s Java patents… this one could get ugly.

Oh, and Google decided not to attend this year’s JavaOne conference. Anybody surprised about that?

Not really database-related news, but Oracle released Solaris 11 Express in the middle of November of this quarter. This version of the Solaris Unix variant is aimed at developers and serves as a preview of the upcoming release of Solaris 11 in 2011.

The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) held its annual PASS Summit with record total attendance of 3,807. As usual, this was the quarter of the database conference with all of the major players having annual conferences including Oracle Open World in San Francisco (September); the International DB2 User Group in Vienna (November); and the IBM Information on Demand conference in Las Vegas (October). To put the PASS conference attendance into sharp perspective, keep in mind that the IBM Information on Demand show boasted more than 10,000 attendees and Oracle Open World drew in excess of 40,000 attendees (though, of course, not all were focused on the Oracle database technology).

Additionally, Oracle and HP reached a settlement on the litigation that was threatening to hold up former HP-CEO Mark Hurd from becoming an Oracle Co-President. Hurd was forced out of HP following a scandal involving his relationship with a contract employee. He was named co-president of Oracle last quarter, replacing Charles Phillips. HP sued Hurd claiming that it would not be possible for Hurd to meet his new job duties without breaching the confidentiality agreement he signed as a condition of his severance package. Although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Hurd must adhere to the terms of his confidentiality agreement. Because the terms were not disclosed, it is unknown if Hurd had to surrender any portion of the $12.2 million severance package he received from HP.

And In Conclusion…So ends another year in the database marketplace. The year was typified by acquisitions and lawsuits, but also strong financial performances and great new technology. To keep an eye on the happenings in the realm of database systems during 2011, be sure to check back and read every quarterly edition of The Database Report!

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Craig Mullins

Craig Mullins

Craig S. Mullins is a data management strategist and principal consultant for Mullins Consulting, Inc. He has three decades of experience in the field of database management, including working with DB2 for z/OS since Version 1. Craig is also an IBM Information Champion and is the author of two books: DB2 Developer’s Guide and Database Administration:The Complete Guide to Practices and Procedures. You can contact Craig via his website.

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