Thoughts on Oracle’s NoSQL offering

I’ve gotten a lot of questions from press, analysts, and customers about Oracle’s NoSQL offering. Our booth at Oracle Open World has been mobbed (next year we need a bigger booth – this year we had to make do with spilling over about 8 feet into the walkway on either side of our booth, sorry for the blockage for anyone trying to get past us!). I thought I’d share some further thoughts on Oracle’s now-announced offering here.

Disclaimer: I work for 10gen, the company that sponsors MongoDB, so I have some obvious bias. That said, I strongly believe that solid offerings from big players will help the market overall. With that bias disclosed, I have done my best to be fair and intellectually honest in my analysis of their offering.

About the offering

Personally, I think the Oracle offering is reasonable. Their approach to consistency looks sensible, as do their replication and sharding designs. It looks like it will be available open source, so I expect it will get a reasonable amount of adoption. I don’t think it breaks new ground, but if you want a key-value store from Oracle, it looks like it will do the job. My prediction is that it won’t crack the top 3 in NoSQL, but it looks solid and with Oracle behind it I’d expect it to wind up somewhere around # 5 or so in a very competitive market. This is just based on looking at their white papers; final judgement will have to wait until the product is released.

One plus for their offering is that it is based very heavily on BerkeleyDB. This technology has been around for at least 15 years, so it should be pretty stable. The main addition appears to be hash-based sharing; this is the part that customers need to ensure is stable before adopting it, but I’d expect the rest of it to be quite solid.

On criticism for flip-flopping

There have been a lot of harsh words about Oracle’s switch from writing a white paper on “Debunking the NoSQL Hype” in May to announcing a NoSQL offering in October. I wish it were otherwise, but welcome to the world of high-tech marketing. When a big company feels pain in the market and doesn’t have a product, they have their marketing guys write something that says the market isn’t important. You can be grumpy that the industry works that way and think whoever decided to do that is a hypocrite, but it really has no bearing on Oracle’s commitment to the product now that they have built it. Time to move on and evaluate the product on its merits.

So, congrats to Oracle on entering an exciting and growing market segment with what looks to be a solid offering. I look forward to seeing how it evolves over its next few releases and to competing with them in marketplace!

— Max

3 comments so far

  1. Daniela Florescu on

    Max, just a question, if I may ask out of curiosity: how large is the market for NOSQL ? What was the global revenu last year, for example ?

    Any other palpable numbers would be useful to understand the strategy, and, as a consequence, the techological solution that has been proposed.

    Thanks, and best regards, Dana Florescu

    • Max Schireson on


      Good to hear from you.

      I don’t have good market sizing data. All the leading products are open source and in the very early stages of commercialization. I think backward looking revenue says much more about the (early) stage of development of the commercial entities in this space, ourselves included. As for potential future revenue, of course I think the potential is vast!

      Regarding the strategy and drivers for the space, what we see very clearly is that customers are looking for two things: horizontal scalability and developer agility. Regarding horizontal scalability, they want to deploy big systems on large clusters of commodity hardware and be able to add nodes to increase both capacity and reliability. Product functionality needs to allow for this, including for example automated handling of a node failure and rebalancing data when additional nodes are added. Regarding developer agility, I imagine with your work in XML you’ve seen many use cases where a hierarchical document-oriented data model fits better than relational; other use cases work well with graphs or key-value stores. Different solutions have taken different approaches, but all of them are attempts to offer flexibility and agility to developers building applications that aren’t a natural fit for relational.

      I hope this is helpful, and I look forward to discovering the revenue potential first hand!

      — Max

  2. Renaud Viel on

    Hi Max,

    Just a comment on the Oracle offer:

    They propose a Big Data Appliance, which in Oracle’s terms means: “The stuff inside is Open source but please buy the Box!” Oracle’s interest is clearly to sell the hardware. Therefore the software part of it, even if it is probably reliable, won’t be pushed by the Oracle sales organisation. Sales people within the software sales organization of Oracle are just not taking in count products on which they are not paid! Best exemple is OracleVM, a free virtualization software from Oracle. No Sales Reps in oracle are willing to spend a minute of their time on this, because there is no money to earn. In the end VMWare is Number One on this market, and Oracle is not even a serious competitor, even if OracleVM is technically a very good product.

    So my though is that Oracle won’t be a serious competitor for Mongo DB, they are just trying to sell more Exa stacks. The day they will become serious about NoSQL Database, Larry will probably give you a call and make an offer…as usual.

    kind regards


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