Oracle OpenWorld 2011





Forty-five thousand - the number of attendees at Oracle OpenWorld 2011 in San Francisco; it was their largest event yet. The crowded rooms reminded me of the train stations in Tokyo from earlier this summer.

Oracle has always been an important partner for ESTI, with our strategic focus on the Oracle database, application development and support and more recently on the hardware offerings and related solutions. As such we like to keep a close eye on all of the new Oracle developments to ensure we are delivering only the best products and solutions to our customers.

OpenWorld 2011 could be summed up in four simple words; "The Cloud is Now." The focus on this could be seen everywhere; from exhibitors in the two massive Exhibition Halls, to sessions detailing with best practices for the cloud, to the Keynote speeches delivered by EMC and Oracle.

Exhibition Halls

These halls were flush with exhibitors displaying their latest and greatest products and services. In addition booths had free giveaways, draws, and this year a volunteer booth to package kits for humanitarian services in Africa. Of course, this was also a prime place to grab one of the many free caffeinated beverages and snacks provided throughout the conference.

Conference Sessions

Being a developer, most of my time at the conference was spent sitting in various sessions involving NoSQL databases, SQL security, and Oracle/.NET pairing.

 

  • NoSQL

    • NoSQL databases are an ever evolving technology designed for massive scalability. Commonly identified as "Not Only SQL", these databases differ from large relational databases by focusing on being horizontally scalable with the ability to handles thousands of writes per second for a fraction of the hardware costs compared to a relational database.
    • These databases are designed to handle semi-structured or un-structured data where data is too varied for a schema, such as user profiles with images and documents or web content. Within a NoSQL database users are able to search for data within these documents without the need for metadata.
    • They do not have the consistency of traditional relational databases yet however. Thankfully they can be used in conjunction with relational databases using various connector tools such as Cloudera's SQOOP which connects Hadoop to Oracle.
    • There is no set standard for the underlying architecture as of yet, however newer releases of NoSQL databases are becoming very reliant. Hadoop/Hbase, MongoDB, and Berkeley DB were the most common names thrown around. A quick browsing of the NoSQL Database hub lists over 120 popular databases.
    • Currently NoSQL databases are primarily utilized by websites. One Oracle customer using Berkeley DB for its web data is continuously storing 4TB of data within a single instance.
  • Oracle and .NET

    • Microsoft's .NET team has announced the development of a new data provider for Oracle, the Thin Oracle Data Provider, to be used with Oracle 10gR2 databases and Visual Studios 2010 and higher. The new provider grants additional features over previous versions such as automatic Real Application Cluster (RAC) Load Balancing and faster Connection Fail Overs.
    • Visual Studios 2010 has built in features allowing developers to debug PL/SQL code within itself.
    • Another new feature within VS 2010 is the SQL Statement Optimizer, which will analyze statements and present the developer with a more efficient version if possible.
  • PL/SQL Security

    • As seen earlier this year, SQL Injections are still a major security threat. Developers need to be aware of the possibility of malicious attacks and develop their code to try and prevent this. While there is no one method to prevent this, major tools include frameworks, parameters, proper input escaping, and white lists.
  • Transcendent Memory

    • Transcendent Memory, or 'Tmem', is a relatively new term in the RAM field, and it is used to describe memory that a machine would not have direct access to, or even know how much is available.
    • It was developed as a way to optimize RAM in much the same way Oracle optimizes hard disk space with its Exadata server.
    • Tmem is a way to hide RAM from the main operating system and preserve it for other operations (so the OS does not hog it all).
    • Tmem is dynamically allocated and may be shared between different virtual machines as required.
    • Tmem is currently being researched on Linux machines with portions of the technology running on Linux since 2.6.39 with further developments planned for the 3.X releases.

 

Keynotes

This year's keynote speeches were once again delivered by some of the largest powerhouses in the industry: EMC, Dell, Cisco, and of course Oracle. Larry saved the biggest Oracle announcements for himself. After dazzling the audience with details of how the storage power of the Exadata server had saved their customers time, money, and space (both hard drive and physical server room space), he announced Oracle's new Exalytics server providing a new Business Intelligence based appliance that is able to cache and process data "at the speed of thought".

Of course with the theme being "The Cloud", Larry also announced Oracle's own answer to Amazon's cloud services, the Oracle Public Cloud.

Social Events

While there is a lot of serious discussions and useful information being spread around at OpenWorld, at night it was time to relax. Every night you could find a gathering of attendees in the central tents with free food and beverages.

As is tradition, Oracle held a wrap-up event on San Francisco's Treasure Island. This year's special guests were Sting and Tom Petty (along with his Heartbreakers, of course).

Not satisfied with the wrap up party, Oracle delivered another closing event on the Thursday by sending off attendees with a performance by Berlin.

With the plethora of sessions, exhibitions, speeches, and other events throughout the conference, Oracle OpenWorld left quite an impression on me. It was a very fulfilling experience, both in terms of knowledge and entertainment. I wonder what Larry has in mind for next year.