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CERN Puts New Autonomous Database Technology to Work

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERNOracle Autonomous Database, has been gaining interest and users across the business world, as organizations see the real-world payoffs from using a “self-driving” database. Here’s what those benefits look like for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Running the most complex machine ever built

Better known as CERN, the center is home to a 17-mile long particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that is being used to investigate the fundamental subatomic particles that make up our world. CERN has been using both flavors of Oracle’s Autonomous Database—Autonomous Data Warehouse and Autonomous Transaction Processing.

The LHC is considered one of the most complex machines ever built. Eric Grancher, head of CERN’s database services group, explains that the Nobel Prize-winning experiments at the laboratory are only possible because the kit that sends particles smashing into each other at nearly the speed of light works. Keeping it running requires organizing vast quantities of operational data for analysis, and CERN has started using Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse to assist with that data management.

“We have some of the most sophisticated hardware and instruments anywhere in the world. All year long, several systems are pulling in 150,000 individual data points per second,” Grancher says. More than 1,000 specialists use this information, through hundreds of applications, to better understand and optimize the accelerators. “The reliability of this data—and the speed at which we can gain insights from it—is crucial to the science that takes place.”

Connecting two million data signals

Also helping Grancher and his team in this task is Oracle’s Autonomous Transaction Processing database. It has been honed for what IT folks refer to as event processing—essentially the job of capturing data that shows when a change in a system has taken place, and that the necessary subsequent actions have been performed. Experts at CERN are applying that to the eye-watering task of properly connecting around two million individual signals and switches dotted all over the particle accelerator.

At peak, the system needs to cope with more than five million data requests per second. The Oracle Database logging all that is already 1.1 petabytes and growing by 2.5 terabytes every day. Though few clients will have that scale of challenge in their business, many are working on the sort of event processing projects—like the Internet of Things, predictive maintenance, e-commerce, or document management—where the fast, secure and automated data processing and transfer capabilities of Autonomous Transaction Processing will be crucial.

Freeing up time for more innovation

Manuel Martin Marquez, a project leader and data scientist at CERN, also highlights the benefit for the people working at CERN. “Now we can focus on the things we are supposed to.”

For tech pros and data scientists like Martin Marquez, Oracle Autonomous Database frees up time to work on more innovative and higher-value tasks by eliminating many of the manual tasks involved in managing a database. Instead of people having to configure the database, constantly tune it to maximize performance and apply security patches and upgrades, all that is done automatically, which reduces human error and means systems are patched and upgraded without having to schedule downtime.

Do you want to help put the Autonomous Database to work? Explore Oracle career opportunities and help create the future with us.

This is a shortened version of my feature article originally published on the Wall Street Journal.

Photo courtesy of CERN

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