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Oracle scaling out to NoSQL domination?

Lucy Carey
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The Register claims that the San Francisco giant is about to attack enterprise market gap by establishing a NoSQL standards body. And it might not be such a crazy idea.

In news that was greeted by one Tweeter as “epic craziness”, tech vultures at the Register are claiming that Oracle is in the process of creating a NoSQL standards body, and is currently recruiting NoSQL startups to join the project.

But is really so hard to believe? In recent years, NoSQL technology has become the ingenue of the database world, lauded for its rapid scalability and ability to handle huge volumes of data – unstructured, sort-of-structured, and structured alike – moving at breakneck velocity. Open sourcers MongoDB lead the pack, reaching a record breaking funding milestone in late 2013, joined at the top of the tables by Cassandra and Redis.

Although Oracle fought back with the release of the Oracle NoSQL database in 2011, the world’s second largest software oligarch continues to lag behind agile young upstarts Mongo and Co in this market. By expanding its presence in the sector, Oracle appears to be attempting to upturn this status quo.

There’s still a place for SQL online, amidst the cacophony of Tweets and selfies and whatnot, and the old guard of Oracle, IBM and Microsoft continue to rule the realm of structured data. In sectors such as finance, SQL is relied on for good old fashioned consistency and reliability. As Forbes notes, traditional relational database is a mature, and well-suited to the use cases that drove it to prominence.

Whilst it’s NoSQL that’s rapidly becoming the defacto option for rising software dev shops tooling away on storage hungry web apps, overall, NoSQL has made “limited” inroads into large enterprises. In part, this could be attributed to the paucity of database support and maintenance that typical NoSQL startups are capable of offering at this stage. There’s also a concomitant lack of NoSQL specialists devs compared to RDMS pros.

All of this serves to discourage potential enterprise customers from tapping their unstructured digital content for potentially lucrative commercial analytics. Forbes concludes that, propelled by their almost unrivalled wealth and resources, “Although there is a distinct difference in NoSQL and RDBMS technologies and their applications…Oracle could attain significant first mover advantage by organically/inorganically venturing into the niche segment.”

The Californian software giant’s stealthy database manoeuvre was apparently disclosed  on condition of anonymity to the publication on Friday “by multiple well-placed sources at multiple database companies, who were each familiar with the matter.”

Apparently, the new body will focus on “go-to-market strategies, marketing, promotion and further commercialization of the technology” rather than defining technical specifics. Whilst Oracle may have the skimpiest of toeholds at the moment, should it be successful in corralling fresh startup blood into its club, it may eventually gain the edge it needs to chisel out a MySQL-esque notch in the rapidly maturing NoSQL sector.

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