Oracle CEO Larry Ellison debuts flagship analytics system of 'parallel architecture'

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has showcased an in-memory database engine for big data applications and a processor to rival IBM, combined in a strategy of engineering hardware and software together under a "parallel architecture" approach, similar to Apple's.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has showcased an in-memory database engine for big data applications and a processor to rival IBM in what one analyst described as mind-numbing technical specs.

But Larry Ellison's keynote presentation remained vague about the company's overall corporate strategy and lacked genuine customer case studies.

On the first day of the 45,000-person strong conference, Ellison launched the company's Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine, an in-memory hardware and software system engineered to run analytics at the "speed-of-thought" alongside its Exalogic and Exadata products, and a Big Data Appliance designed to crunch unstructured data.

Oracle also unveiled its Sparc SuperCluster with a T4 processor. Ellison said: "IBM is proud of talking about how fast its Power7 microprocessor is. But with Sparc T4, for the first time we can say: faster for what? We are faster for Java. IBM is faster for integer arithmetic, true. But that doesn't mean the database is faster." Ellison claimed the company's processor would quickly overtake IBM in nearly every area of speed.

Sign-up to Computer Weekly to download our in-depth Special Report on Oracle

'Parallel architecture' approach

Ellison told delegates Oracle intended to copy Apple's strategy of engineering hardware and software together under a new "parallel architecture" approach: "There's only so much you can do to make a microprocessor faster," he said. Greater speeds would result from building the software and hardware components together, added Ellison.

But Ovum chief analyst Carter Lusher said Ellison missed an opportunity in failing to outline the company's vision: "Over the last decade, Larry Ellison has built Oracle from a large database company into what Ovum calls a mega-vendor, an IT vendor that can provide almost everything that enterprise and public sector IT organisations need, from hardware and enterprise applications, to infrastructure software and hardware, to services," Lusher said.

"With such a diverse portfolio, a mega-vendor needs to clearly articulate a compelling vision for how customers can benefit working with a vendor that brings so much to the table. Larry Ellison missed the opportunity at his Oracle Open World keynote to deliver that vision, backed up with exciting customer stories. Rather, the crowd in attendance was subjected to mind-numbing technical specifications about Oracle's Exadata and Exalogic appliances. This recitation of specs was a missed opportunity," said Lusher.

During the second day of the conference, Oracle president Mark Hurd provided a smattering of details about the company's strategy: "Exalytics fits into our Exa-products and our vertical integration strategy," he said. Hurd also revealed Oracle had seen a 20% increase in licence fee revenue over the last year and intended to invest $4.5bn (£2.9bn) in research and development (R&D) over the next year.

Oracle is expected to provide an update on its long-awaited Fusion Application products later this week. Users have criticised the company over the increased support fees they have incurred as a result of Oracle delaying the product, forcing them to buy support for the previous version.

Computer Weekly Special Report on Oracle (requires registration).


Read more on Business applications