The Oracle Big Data Appliance incorporates Cloudera’s Distribution including Apache Hadoop (CDH) with Cloudera Manager and an open source distribution of R.

About an Appliance

The Oracle Big Data Appliance runs on Oracle Linux and features Oracle NoSQL Database Community Edition and Oracle HotSpot Java Virtual Machine, according to today's announcement. The included software is also available separately for users who prefer to configure their own hardware and software systems.

In October 2011, Oracle offered a sneak peek at the Big Data Appliance by making the Oracle NoSQL Database with Enterprise Grade support available. At that time, Oracle’s senior vice president Andrew Mendelsohn confirmed the company's shift in "big data" strategy, saying:

Oracle NoSQL Database is a key component of Oracle’s Big Data strategy. As customers look to manage the huge explosion in data from new and evolving sources, such as Web, sensors, social networks, and mobile applications, Oracle is helping them unlock the value of this data by providing a highly-available, reliable and scalable NoSQL database environment.”

Oracle's latest announcement says that the Big Data Appliance is architected to help users provision an available and scalable system, deliver a high-performance platform for organizing, processing and analyzing big data in Hadoop and using R on raw data sources and to control IT costs.

The Big Data Appliance comes in a full rack configuration of 18 Oracle Sun servers with 864GB main memory, 216 CPU cores, 648TB of raw disk storage, 40Gb/s InfiniBand connectivity between nodes and 10Gb/s Ethernet data center connectivity.

Big Data Connectors Software

In addition to the new appliance, Oracle also announced the availability of Oracle Big Data Connectors, software that helps users integrate data stored in Hadoop and Oracle NoSQL Database with Oracle Database 11g. Oracle Big Data Connectors includes Oracle Loader for Hadoop, Oracle Data Integrator Application Adapter for Hadoop, Oracle Connector R and Oracle Direct Connector for Hadoop Distributed File System.

Big Data Battles

IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have been competing in the big data space, with IBM announcing InfoSphere BigInsights, a number of easily deployed analytics products in data center and cloud configurations, last October.

In July 2011, Microsoft announced Project Daytona, a set of tools and services built around the Azure platform that will support a range of analytics and machine learning algorithms and can be scaled out to hundreds of server cores for analysis of distributed data.

We're only 10 days into the new year, but it's safe to assume "big data" will continue to be big news throughout 2012.