Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ellison's Oracle vs. Plattner's SAP - Battle of "In-Memory"

The battle between Ellison’s Oracle and Plattner’s SAP seems to be heating up with Plattner having fired a salvo across Ellison’s bow with “HANA” (Hasso Plattner’s New Architecture – neither of these gentlemen can ever be accused of humility/modesty).

Plattner seems to have upped the ante by taking the battle beyond the usual mooning each other at yacht races and billion dollar acquisitions as bolt-on’s for their core platforms to the core of Oracle’s key strength – its underlying data base. SAP claims HANA which allows companies to store data in servers' main memory, instead of using the relational databases that Oracle dominates is significantly faster than Oracle’s Exadata .

The Jury is still out. T-mobile has taken HANA out for a test drive and has been impressed.

Ellison’s response- “Whacko”, adding he wants the name of SAP’s “Pharmacist”.

Read more in this article from the WSJ (01/26): Inside SAP's Skunkworks as It Takes Aim at Oracle

Key question: which way are the database technology winds going to blow – in-memory or relational?

In the BI space an in-memory application like Qliktech’s Qlikview emerged as a serious contender to traditional BI vendors (strengthening Data Discovery vis-a-vis traditional enterprise BI).

If SAP’s HANA pans out, I think the database market will see a new segment emerge for applications focused on “Big Data” (McKinsey’s definition: Datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze) , with Oracle too strengthening its offerings in that area ( Oracle has bought an in-memory database company called TimesTen ).

It may be a few years before data in-memory database architecture really matures and comes center-stage. Process may be speeded up with a behemoth like SAP putting its financial muscle behind it. The strong demand for tools with ability to manage/ mine “big data” which companies are accumulating as a result of tapping into their customers web-usage, geo-location etc. is another driver.

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