By James Harper, Oracle Database Consultant at RDB Consulting

Big data is a big deal, so it’s no surprise that the focus of the recent Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco was on big data and in-memory computing, starting with Larry Ellison’s keynote and running as a theme through all the sessions I attended.

Oracle has created a brilliant in-memory architecture that can crunch 7 billion records a second. The shift to in-memory technology will speed databases up by as much as 100 times, and “things that used to take hours can now be done in seconds,” Larry Ellison said at the opening of the conference. This is amazing, but it rests on Oracle Database 12c, which is a minimum of one generation ahead of what most South African companies are running, from what we at RDB Consulting have seen.

12c is all about the cloud, and all the apps that run on 12c can automatically take advantage of the Oracle Database In-Memory option. That may be one of the reasons that apps were also a big focus of Oracle OpenWorld, with Oracle-owned apps like E-Business Suite being discussed in depth. It was interesting to hear the real-world stories of Oracle customers from the US in their presentations and case studies around the apps, and highlighted for me how different the South African approach is.

Since the apps are generally version-specific, this is partly the result of our comfort with our existing systems locally, but the conference also made it clear that South African companies are going to have to start looking at newer versions. The main message filtering through was that there was going to be little or no support on old features going forward, and that 12c was the future of the database.

With 60 000 people from over 145 countries attending (although very few South Africans), this year’s event was huge, and in addition to the 12c announcement, Oracle launched new hardware products, including an appliance for backing up databases, and new systems based on a new generation of the SPARC processor known as the M6.

Despite the fact that Larry Ellison made the news for missing his second keynote to go watch the Americas Cup, one of the highlights of the conference for me was hearing his vision for the future in the opening presentation. It’s a future of real-time analytics and faster data processing that I hope to see in South Africa sooner rather than later.

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