By Jeff Erickson
PROFIT: You've spent time under the hood of Oracle Database 11g. What are your impressions?
NIEMIEC: I'm excited about Oracle Database 11g because I think it manages business systems that are yet to come. The amount of data continues to grow while the pace of change accelerates. We'll need systems that give us a way to visualize and manage huge data loads. We'll need systems that help us meet that change with confidence. We'll need systems that have the intelligence to manage themselves to some degree. Oracle Database 11g is expected to do all these things.
PROFIT: You say future databases must manage huge amounts of data. How huge?
NIEMIEC: I calculated that the top 1 million enterprise databases in the world today hold a total of 3 exabytes of data, which is 3 million terabytes. In one Oracle 11g database, you can expect to be able to store 8 exabytes. So on one Oracle database that would mean you could store the top 1 million company databases in the world, right now. That's the planned capability of Oracle Database 11g. Of course, the hardware to hold it isn't there . . . yet.
PROFIT: Why would a CEO, CIO, or CFO care?
NIEMIEC: The absolute power of the Oracle Database provides them with a business advantage over their competitors. Being able to store and update records quickly, with all the data that you could ever store in your system, and every partner you ever had storing their data in your system, and doing it quickly, is what gives Oracle a huge advantage over other systems.
PROFIT: How does Oracle Database manage all that data and continue to stay so fast?
NIEMIEC: Oracle has a lot of capabilities in that area, but I'll illustrate with one special component of Oracle Database called the optimizer. The optimizer is one of the key pieces of Oracle Database that makes it great. What the optimizer always asks, every time you search for data, is, "How should I access that data to make it fast?" With every search, it learns and fine-tunes the fastest way to retrieve that data. It's the most complex part of Oracle Database, and it's probably 10 to 15 years ahead of any other database. The optimizer is what's making all those great decisions for you that make your system fast. As the amount of data continues to grow, it's going to become more and more important.
PROFIT: What about talk that you hear about competition from open source technologies?
NIEMIEC: Oracle has so many advantages when you look at the complete solution. It has features like Oracle Flashback Database for recovering from mistakes, Oracle Data Guard for disaster recovery, hot backups that are well ahead of the competition, online redefinition of objects like indexes, Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC), which has not been replicated and will not be easily copied at the interconnect level, Oracle Grid Control features that expand the benefits of Oracle RAC, mature parallel processing to improve performance, and the optimizer functionality that, again, borders on artificial intelligence in its levels of sophistication—and we expect it to be even better in Oracle Database 11g.
I remember asking Bruce Scott, who was the first employee ever hired by Oracle, if he thought that open source would ever catch up with something like the Oracle or [IBM] DB2 databases. He said, "No, it's never going to catch up, because a database is much more complex than an operating system. And of the handful of people that are capable of writing a great optimizer, none of them will do it for free, because it would take too many years."
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