Oracle does NoSQL

Recently there have been rumors of Oracle introducing a NoSQL database at Open World next week. As a 9-year Oracle veteran as well as an 8-year veteran of the alternative database world (most recently as President of 10gen, the sponsor of MongoDB), this is an exciting development for me.

I don’t think NoSQL means the end of SQL or relational – its one of the reasons I don’t love the name “NoSQL”. I do, however, think that relational is not the answer to everything. When I left Oracle eight years ago to work on alternatives to relational database, I felt that there was space for an alternative that was more agile for developers and more scalable for deployment on a large number of commodity servers. The last eight years with the emergence of web 2.0 and cloud deployment have only strengthened my belief that relational is not the answer to all questions.

How do I feel about Oracle introducing a “NoSQL” database”? I think it makes all the sense in the world. Oracle already has acquired a variety of database products ranging from the acquisition of RDB from DEC to Sleepycat and TimesTen to MySQL (acquired with SUN). Much of the innovation in the database world right now is focused on scalable non-relational databases, most of which are open source and  which tend to be lumped under the “NoSQL” banner. The innovation is focused there for three reasons:
– Customers want horizontal scalability to support deployment on clusters of commodity servers, often in the cloud
– Customers want greater agility in their database to accomodate data whose structure is changing or heterogeneous
– Customers want easier development

In my opinion this is a good thing for alternative database vendors. Competition is already thriving in the sector and I don’t think one more competitor, even one as large as Oracle, will alter the  dynamics dramatically. But many customers will take Oracle’s arrival in the space as a sign that this trend is significant and it is a space they should look at. If Oracle’s offering is strong, we may lose some market share to them, but their presence will make it a bigger market.

In my time at Oracle, I found Larry Ellison to have a great sense of what markets were important and to be a fierce competitor. In some markets Oracle has crushed competitors (eg, RDBMS vs Sybase, Informix, and Ingres); in others it has struggled for a time and eventually succeeded through acquisition (eg, enterprise apps vs Peoplesoft, Siebel, and SAP); in some its presence has barely been felt (eg, SaaS vs Salesforce and NetSuite). How will Oracle’s entry into the NoSQL market fare? I don’t know, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oracle, welcome to what in my opinion is the most exciting part of the database market!

— Max

5 comments so far

  1. Richard Doll (@rmmdoll) on


    I couldn’t agree more with you. As long as the “Big guys” can afford to ignore such trends it means they are probably too insignificant to matter.

    Clearly – and customer interest, analyst interest and partner interest has proven it – this “movement” has shown there is merit to other, alternative solutions.
    This market is still in its infancy but we all know it will expand. For Oracle to dip its (first) toe into it is a welcome sign.


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  4. […] has been running rampant that Oracle may introduce its own NoSQL database at the OpenWorld conference, to be held next week […]

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