Campaigners angered by reports that Oracle's in-memory database feature is switched on by default

By John Leonard
25 Jul 2014 View Comments
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The latest version of Oracle Database reportedly has its new in-memory technology switched on by default.

Many customers will be excited by the prospect of in-memory capability. After all Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has boasted that for certain workloads the in-memory feature can be "100 times faster". 

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However, in return for its in-memory feature Oracle is reportedly demanding a minimum of $23,000 (£14,000) per processor used by the database on Oracle's own SPARC servers. There will, of course, be those who will be willing to pay such sums for these new capabilities. However, there may be many who will be paying without even using them.

Database expert Kevin Closson, who has analysed the patch version of Oracle Database, said that he is concerned by the fact that such an expensive feature is switched on by default.

"It really should have a default initialisation setting that renders the option/feature nascent - but the reality is quite the opposite," Closson writes in his blog, claiming that Oracle has yet to respond to his questions about this issue.

In June, Aaron Auld, CEO of in-memory database firm Exasol predicted that Oracle's new in-memory feature would be 'unfocused, hardware-centric and expensive'. 

"Oracle already has an astronomical hardware price tag and this will surely push that dubious record to new heights," Auld said at the time.

Of the latest news, Exasol CTO Mathias Golmbek told Computing:

"This feeble attempt to block out Oracle-installed base customers from the dramatic innovations of the in-memory market by sticking them with a huge bill will preoccupy them and prevent businesses from moving on to real innovative solutions. More fundamentally, we don't think 'in-memory' should be an 'add-on'; it's a core feature that users should expect to have as standard in a modern analytical database."

The reported move to switch on in-memory by default has also angered Mark Flynn, CEO of the Campaign for Clear Licensing.

"This is exactly why the CCL exists, to ensure that software buyers are fully informed of the impact that changes to their licensing terms could mean for their bottom line," Flynn said.

Recognising the fact that Oracle has every right to be recompensed for its innovation costs in creating this innovative feature, he said the decision to pay for it must be made explicitly by the customer.

"We do not condone the practice of auto-enrollment in more costly features. The customer should always be given the opportunity to enroll in new features on their terms once they are fully informed of the cost implications. Auto-enrollment is a trend in the industry that needs to stop."

Flynn believes that many administrators will be caught out by the changes.

"While the ultimate responsibility for compliance lies with database administrators, we do not live in a perfect world. Admins have a million and one other priorities in their day - keeping up-to-date with the latest licensing changes is rarely top of their list. And why should it be? Vendors need to do more to educate their users when significant changes such as this are introduced," he said.

"Any change to a software license that will cost the user more money should always be opted in by the customer. We are already working with Oracle to help make licensing simpler and more transparent, but as this update suggests, change will take time."

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