Larry Ellison has a dream. And at the moment it might be less about winning new customers than keeping the ones he already has.

It seems that every time the overlord of the database blinks, there’s someone new talking to his Enterprise customers about faster, cheaper and better ways to gain insights from their information and to run their businesses.

While in the past, Oracle customers might have turned a deaf ear to such talk, these days they are more likely to be listening and listening closely.


Because in a world where hardware is becoming more and more commoditized and new, Enterprise-grade software is built via Open Source, Oracle wants to charge a pretty penny, Add to that, that Oracle was in Cloud-denial for much too long and being late to the game often suggests a lack of leadership.

And though Oracle is eventually likely to lose market share for these reasons, there’s a bigger one: technology vendors who used to build their solutions with Oracle in mind are doing so less and less often because they have other good choices.

SAP, for example, offers super-fast database HANA to its Enterprise customers and it’s becoming widely accepted as a formidable foe -- many believe it’s a giant-killer.

Though it’s yet to be confirmed, there’s reason to believe that Documentum’s Next Generation Information Sever, which may very well be cloud-based, will sit atop of its own database and so on.

So, in an IT universe disrupted by Big Data and the Cloud, where does Oracle sit?

“On top,” that’s what Larry Elllison would likely say. Maybe he’d be radio-ing in from one of the planes he paid for when he purchased Island Air.

Or maybe he’d tell you about Oracle’s latest Big Data news.

Catching Up with Big Data

Today the company announced two new additions to its Big Data Appliance family. They were created to help customers get into the Big Data game more quickly and to easily and cost-effectively scale their footprint as their data grows.

For companies who are timid about getting started with Big Data, it’s a good solution in a land of many good solutions.

According to Oracle’s press release, the Oracle Big Data Appliance is comprised of the X3-2 Starter Rack and Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2 In-Rack Expansion. Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2 Starter Rack enables customers to jumpstart their first Big Data projects with an optimally sized appliance. The Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2 In-Rack Expansion helps customers scale as their data grows.

The specifics, taken directly from Oracle’s press release are below.

The new configurations include Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2 Starter Rack, containing six Oracle Sun servers within a full-sized rack with redundant Infiniband switches and power distribution units; as well as Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2 In-Rack Expansion, which includes a pack of six additional servers to expand the above configuration to 12 nodes and then to a full rack of 18 nodes.

Both new systems include the existing software stack for Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2: Oracle Linux, Oracle Hotspot Java Virtual Machine, Cloudera's Distribution Including Apache Hadoop (CDH), Cloudera Manager and Oracle NoSQL Database.

Integrating Hadoop into existing enterprises, Oracle also provides powerful SQL access to HDFS data. This enables organizations to leverage their existing Oracle SQL skillsets and tools to seamlessly query and analyze data stored in Hadoop.

Additionally, Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2 (full rack configuration) is now available through Oracle Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), where organizations can obtain Oracle Big Data Appliance X3-2 on-premise, behind their firewall, for a monthly fee. With Oracle IaaS for Oracle Big Data Appliance, organizations can now eliminate upfront capital expenditures for their Big Data needs."

Too Late to the Big Data Party?

The development and introduction of these appliances was a “must do” for Oracle. The company’s customers have probably been chomping at the bit to dip their toes into Big Data waters and those who have come to rely on Oracle and can rely on them some more. Conversely, if Oracle had no easy, sugar-coated approach to offer, its customers would, no doubt, go elsewhere.

Oracle’s decision to include Cloudera’s Hadoop distribution as part of the appliance is also a wise choice. Cloudera’s Chief Scientist Jeff Hammerbacher was recently heard describing what it takes to get started with Cloudera, and it sounded like a 15-30 minute plug ‘n play. It should be noted that Hammerbacher was probably talking about what it would take for him to get it done (we suspect it would take much longer for the uninitiated).

If Oracle can indeed make Big Data easy, then the company’s future may very well be bright.

What’s the possibility of that happening?

Speaking from his own private island, Ellison would, no doubt, say it’s a stupid question