A Data-Tinged Look Back at 2009

As per my regular custom, this final DBA Corner column of the year is a review of the most significant data and database-related events of the year. Of course, to meet my deadlines, it is October 2009 as I write this, so please excuse any significant news that may have happened late in the year!

Probably the biggest data-related story of the year is the planned acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle. It all started late in March 2009 when the Wall Street Journal reported that IBM was looking to acquire Sun. But, of course, that never happened. Instead, just when it seemed like nobody was interested in acquiring Sun, Oracle swooped in with an offer of approximately $7.4 billion for Sun.

Why does the acquisition make sense for Oracle? Both companies sell mostly to larger enterprises. Many of Sun's servers run Oracle software - database and applications. By adding Sun, Oracle can offer completely integrated systems - including server, storage, OS, DBMS, middleware, and applications-without having to involve any other vendor.

In the third quarter, even as the acquisition continued to be debated in Europe, Oracle and Sun made a significant cooperative announcement by jointly announcing Exadata V2. Exadata is a database machine based on Sun's Galaxy line of x64 blade servers and FlashFire technology. The companies claim that Exadata V2 works twice as fast as earlier versions of Exadata, which were based on HP hardware.

Oracle's planned acquisition of Sun was by no means the only important acquisition news this year. Both Oracle and IBM continued their acquisitive ways in 2009.

Oracle made four other interesting acquisitions over the course of 2009. In Q1, Oracle acquired mValent, a provider of tracking software for system and configuration changes; and Relsys International, a provider of drug safety and risk management solutions with advanced analytics. In Q2, Oracle acquired Virtual Iron Software, Inc., a provider of server virtualization management software. And in Q3, Oracle acquired data integration vendor GoldenGate Software, Inc.

Though IBM did not make any acquisitions in the first quarter, it was far from quiet this year. In the second quarter, IBM acquired Exeros, a provider of profiling software that uncovers hidden relationships between databases. And in the third quarter, the company announced what is probably the second biggest acquisition news in the database market this year by snagging data analytics provider, SPSS, Inc. IBM paid $1.2 billion for SPSS, in effect buying its way into being a major contender in the predictive analytics and data mining space.

What About the Technology?

In the second quarter, IBM announced a new point release of DB2 - Version 9.7. Also known by the code name Cobra, DB2 V9.7 offers some great new functionality, of which the most important is probably its ability to simplify the migration of Oracle applications to DB2. IBM licensed technology from EnterpriseDB, the open source database vendor that makes its living off of mimicking Oracle. These capabilities enable customers to run applications written for Oracle's database even though they are using DB2 9.7.

In early April, Microsoft unleashed the SP1 service pack which rolls up all the fixes since the initial launch of SQL Server 2008. Other than a rollup of fixes, SP1 also introduces at least one new feature called Slipstream, which enables users to install the DBMS and the service pack all at once.

And in early September, Oracle issued Release 2 of its 11g database software, which boasts more than 200 new features. Oracle is hoping the new release will drive customers to upgrade to 11g. Estimates peg 11g uptake at only 10% to 15% of Oracle's installed base.


I guess the bottom line of all this news is that the business of managing and analyzing data is active and strong. The database marketplace continues to be active and entertaining ... and 2010 should be just as interesting!