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Oracle hits back at ex-employee's claims over in-memory database option

The debate rages on dueling blog posts from the former employee and Oracle itself

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Oracle has responded to a former employee's claim that a new in-memory processing option is turned on by default with the latest release of Database 12c, insisting that the process of enabling it requires a series of deliberate steps.

In a personal blog post last week, ex-Oracle employee Kevin Closson said that Oracle database shops might unwittingly find themselves hit with additional license fees if an audit turned up accidental usage of the in-memory option, which is priced at US$23,000 per processor.

The option itself is "not a bolt-on technology" to the database, said Maria Colgan, an Oracle product manager, in a blog post late Monday.

In fact, "it has been seamlessly integrated into the core of the database as a new component of the Shared Global Area (SGA)," she added. "When the Oracle Database is installed, Oracle Database In-Memory is installed. They are one and the same. You can't unlink it or choose not to install it."

But is the in-memory feature, while installed, actually enabled?

"The answer is NO," Colgan wrote. The rest of her post spells out in detail steps needed to enable the feature.

Closson, who was a performance architect on Oracle's Exadata database machine and now works for EMC, has since last week updated his blog a number of times, mounting a vigorous and technically detailed defense of his position.

In his original post, Closson stressed he was trying "as hard as I can to not make a mountain out of a mole-hill." Nonetheless, his post sparked a debate, with a number of Closson's own peers apparently taking issue with his conclusions. "I've endured an ungodly amount of shameful backlash from friends on the Oaktable Network list," he wrote in one update, referring to a group for Oracle database users.

The flap has placed a bit of a stain on Oracle's launch of the in-memory option, its answer to in-memory database features and platforms from rivals such as SAP, Microsoft and IBM.

If anything, however, the uproar may help make Oracle database customers more vigilant about their usage, thereby minimizing the type of expensive accidents Closson was writing about.

Meanwhile, the in-memory option is just one of the new features in Database 12c version 12.1.0.2, which is now generally available.

Other updates include support for JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data in the database, which can then be queried via SQL and REST-based interfaces. JSON is a lightweight data-interchange format that makes it easy for JavaScript developers to work with JSON data sources. Oracle's move to support the format takes aim at JSON-friendly NoSQL databases such as MongoDB.

Another new feature is called Rapid Home Provisioning, for fast deployment and patching of many databases. This builds upon the multitenant feature, introduced in the first version of 12c, which allows multiple databases to run within a single database instance. Oracle is positioning this capability as ideal for consolidating workloads as well as helping SaaS (software as a service) vendors reduce operational overhead.

The arrival of 12.1.0.2 could spark further uptake of 12c in general, which was first released in June 2013. Most Oracle database customers wait until a milestone release receives a number of updates and patches before committing to an upgrade.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com



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