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Café Innovation – Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

When one of your biggest competitors joins you in a new race, you know your cause is a worthy one and that you are doing the right things for you have earned the earnest envy of those seeking to compete. If you are a customer who has been waiting for industry validation or endorsement before moving forward with SAP HANA then there is no better data point than the announcement from Oracle about the availability of what it calls its In-Memory machine.

When I saw the announcement on Feb 27 from Oracle, titled, “Oracle Announces the Availability of Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine,” it was not exactly a surprise because an announcement of its imminent arrival had been made by Oracle last October during their annual conference. However, the simple fact that it was indeed here made me go, “Hmmm!”  Of the things that make you go “Hmmm” this certainly ranked up there! Here’s why.

Back in January of 2010, Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, famously said, “In-memory databases? Yes, SAP is going after this. We [Oracle] missed it and IBM missed it, and it’s good that SAP CEO Hasso [Plattner] and his five guys in a garage got it. It’s wacko.” (See Carolyn April’s article, Oracle’s Larry Being Larry (Ellison), from Jan 28, 2010, at: At that time Oracle gave the impression that there was no way that in-memory databases could supplant relational databases.

Well, fast-forward to the recent announcement from Oracle (, and you see that not only is Oracle embracing the In-Memory concept but is advertising its Exalytics offering as the “First Engineered System of In-Memory Decisions Support, Online Analytical Processing, Forecasting and Planning.”  That reflects a lot of pride in promoting their In-Memory credentials! This is especially noteworthy considering that the idea of In-Memory computing had been summarily dismissed not too long ago!

I will not seek to pass judgment on the ability or quality of the Exalytics product, nor will I focus on the merits (or, otherwise) of its architectural design, or even debate how deeply is Oracle committed to In-Memory computing. I am thrilled solely because in the quest for the hearts and minds of customers who must deal with big data regularly, this turnabout from Oracle is a show of tremendous support for the whole notion of In-Memory computing as well as for the arguments in favor of it that SAP has been putting forth for the last several months. With growing traction in the marketplace as a result of increased value for customers adopting SAP HANA, Oracle’s official acknowledgment of the value of In-Memory computing is very timely.

Many organizations are leery of being early adopters of revolutionary technology (and, indeed SAP HANA could easily be described as being quite revolutionary), even though they might see value in it from a purely intellectual standpoint – they tend to straddle the fence a bit waiting to see how things turn out. However, once a concept is accepted in the marketplace, and it becomes an influence to reckon with, these organizations often get moving. If you are an organization that is not an early adopter of groundbreaking technology, perhaps now is the time to get off the fence and get moving. The market, including SAP’s competition, has responded with an endorsement of the values that are foundational to the notion of SAP HANA. Together with the ever-growing tribe of successful and satisfied SAP HANA customers this should be a strong indicator for you to take the next step.

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