Cop to it

Testing times for Oracle’s in-memory database option

Lucy Carey

Software giant under fire for buggy software and stealthy default charges.


Oracle has had a rocky run of it with its much
vaunted Oracle Database In-Memory option, first announced at
JavaOne 2013. Admittedly,
n-memory was always going to be a hard-sell for a
company whose CEO had publicly dismissed the technology as

Nevertheless, Larry Ellison bit the
bullet and appeared in person to launch the technology this June,
peppering his speech with a series of widely derided claims

speed and unique

Of course, rivals SAP Hana, who’ve been doing
in-memory since way back when (for Ellison’s sake, hopefully far
back enough that nobody remembers his comments that the SAP crew
were “on drugs” if they believed it made them true contenders for
the DB throne) were quick to jump in, arguing that Oracle were
merely playing catch-up, and along the line customers would be
stung by sneaky hardware costs.

Plucky startup Hazelcast also joined the fray,
choosing the very same launch date for Hazelcast Enterprise, a
commercial offering from which will go head to head with the Java
overlords. Both systems have scalability, high availability,
reliability, cloud readiness, convergence of the OLAP and OLTP
approaches, and compatibility with SQL in common, but where their
paths diverge is that Hazelcast are all about low-cost, open source
software, whilst Oracle operate on a path geared towards vendor
lock-in, leading Hazelcast to label the San Francisco behemoth an
Apple wannabe.

Aaron Auld, CEO of in-memory database firm
Exasol, jumped in with gloomy predictions  that Oracle’s new
feature would be

‘unfocused, hardware-centric and expensive’

- and it’s looking like he may have had a point. This week,
it’s emerged that the in-memory option is switched on
” in  Oracle
Database, raising the hackles of
clear-licensing advocates. For use of this feature, hapless
customers will apparently be charged a minimum of $23,000 (£14,000)
per processor used by the database on Oracle’s SPARC

Oh, and there’s also the matter of a little

, which after much to-ing and fro-ing on
various platforms, Oracle has finally had to cop to. Although it
remains unclear if the little blighter poses any real risk, it
cause the in-memory database option to be
reported as being in use when it’s not, which is pretty annoying.
Ellison’s patch patrol will issue a fix for this around October
time. Let’s hope nobody gets stuck with a trifling $23k or so tab
as a result of this little flaw before then.

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