Ramon Chen on 06 July 2010
For all the advances the human race has delivered over countless centuries, one could argue that this is still a very complex world indeed. True, things can now be accomplished a lot faster, cheaper and more efficiently than ever before, but exactly how far have we come that it still takes an average person till the age of 21 before they amass the skills needed to seek their fortune in the business world. Tack on additional MBA time or Doctor/Lawyer level focused education, and on the job training and all of a sudden you are pushing late 20s before you feel that you’ve found your niche and ‘career’.
I went through the traditional path of school then University (computer science degree) then pursued a programming career (specializing in Oracle and Informix database administration), followed by product management and overall technology marketing to end up where I am today.
Back in the early 90s when I was knee deep in shell scripts, Oracle SQL*Plus command line entries, I was gratified to know that the skills I was learning through courses, on the job training and volumes of articles from experts and books would enrich me with significant compensation had I decided to pursue a career as an Oracle DBA.
Fast forward 20 years later, being an Oracle DBA is still a great job, highly compensated and a critical role within an IT organization. Much of this is no doubt due to the ubiquity and success of Oracle. However, you would think that in 20 years, an Oracle database would be smart enough by now to forgo the need for specialized human babysitting. Not so, since in an effort to become more ubiquitous, the powerful Oracle RDBMS has added more and more complex features and capabilities which make it a very sensitive, powerful database that requires dedicated care, feeding and handling in order to make the most of your significant investment.
This comes as no surprise as it mirrors real life. If you shell out big bucks for a Ferrari the corresponding maintenance costs are higher due to the specialized mechanics compared with that of an average car. If you buy a big expensive house, your repairs, upkeep and property taxes are also going to be higher. Oracle, together with expensive hardware, fiber connected SANs and expert DBAs adds up to quite a hefty sum of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of managing and retaining the valuable data captured by your applications.
If you were going to spend big bucks, you’d expect results and performance to match your use cases and requirements. With Big Data upon us and years of data warehousing experience, we already know that transactional RDBMS’ are not the best repositories for analytics. Furthermore Teradata, Netezza and a cadre of new providers such as Cloudera (with Hadoop), Aster Data, Paraccel and others are further specializing in big data analytics & insights.
Similarly, Oracle and other RDBMS’ with all their glorious complexity should be the least likely repository to keep massive amounts of data if long term retention is your focus. Would you use your Ferrari to store your furniture? Features such as two phase commit, referential integrityand even update would be considered over kill for immutable retention. Throw in an Oracle expert or two and you get the picture why ISVs are looking for specialized repositories to tackle their Big Data retention problems.
They expect their repositories to not only leverage low cost commodity hardware, be enabled for the cloud, but require close to zero administration. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for that Ferrari. Oracle is still the king for running production critical applications and the Ferrari mechanics should be 100% focused on managing and maintaining those systems.
For Big Data retention however, the complexity and TCO of the target repository should be so low that it is a negligible part of the overall IT budget. All this can be achieved by selecting the right specialized repository for the right job.