Oracle: Known QuantityBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-07-08 Email Print
Oracle shops like the vendor's all-inclusive offerings, though some say its database hits a wall querying huge amounts of data.
Why use Oracle for data warehousing? For many customers, the answer is: Because it's there.
For one thing, true-blue Oracle shops say they have a lower learning curve. "Since we're familiar with Oracle tools and technologies, we didn't want to have to learn a different set of tools," says Kyle Lambert, vice president of information systems at John I. Haas, a producer of hops for beer makers.
In some cases, an Oracle data warehouse is virtually free, according to its customers. The Louisiana Office of Group Benefits, which administers health insurance plans for 250,000 state employees and their dependents, is using Oracle to run its 3-terabyte data warehouse partly because it had already licensed the full suite of software. "I didn't have to buy anything" for the project last year, explains Rizwan Ahmed, the agency's CIO. "We had negotiated a fantastic deal with Oracle."
Moreover, with Oracle supplying a complete set of business intelligence software—including its own reporting and querying tool, Discoverer—there's no finger-pointing if a problem arises, says Camellia Petty, assistant vice president of application systems for Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), which collects music licensing fees. "It helps you with support and not having to work through blame games," she says.
But others say Oracle doesn't hold a candle to the special-purpose Teradata or Netezza systems for massive ad-hoc data crunching. "We never felt Oracle was satisfactory for our data warehousing needs, in terms of performance," says Michael McBride, data architect with American Eagle Outfitters, a clothing retailer that runs a 1.5-trillion-byte Teradata system. With Oracle, he says, at a certain point "you hit a brick wall."
Oracle maintains that its database, if tuned properly and running on recent server hardware, goes head-to-head with any competitor. "We're more than willing to demonstrate our performance with a proof-of-concept," says George Lumpkin, senior director of data warehousing products.
Still, Oracle customers sometimes have to find ways of accommodating long processing jobs. BMI's Petty, for example, sets complex queries that take 30 minutes or more—such as what percentage of country-music fees came from commercial radio in 2004—to run overnight. Says Petty: "We've never had a problem with someone needing a query back faster than that."
Oracle operating results*
* Fiscal year ends May 31; FYTD reflects first nine months
Source: company reports
Total assets - $23.77B
Stockholders' equity - $9.87B
Cash and equivalents - $7.22B
Short-term investments - $1.91B
Long-term debt - $159M
Shares outstanding - 5.23B
Market value, 6/27 - $64.27B
**As of Feb. 28, 2005, except as noted