Imagine for a moment there is a car on the market built with all of the desired features, faster than anything else on four wheels, and less expensive than other makes and models.
It sounds too good to be true, but that is exactly how Oracle Corp. is positioning a database offering introduced late last year. HeatWave represents the company’s answer to questions around what it intends to do with the MySQL database technology it acquired years ago.
Oracle HeatWave provides a database query accelerator that essentially gives MySQL a turbo boost. It has been optimized to handle both transactional processing and analytics, delivered through a massively parallel architecture that is scalable, fast and cost efficient.
How fast? The company claims that HeatWave running on Oracle Cloud can process half a terabyte of data at speeds 400 times faster in terms of latency.
“Databases are difficult,” said David Floyer, chief technical officer and co-founder of SiliconANGLE sister market research firm Wikibon Inc. “They have a lot of idiosyncrasies in terms of what makes them run fast and what can slow them down. Oracle has done an excellent job of providing a broad range of services that utilize the hardware very efficiently and provide the ability to consolidate analytics and transactional processing.”
MySQL remains popular
Oracle is blazing new trails with HeatWave, but a key question remains. Which customers in key markets will find this database solution attractive?
Part of the answer may be found in the enterprise embrace of MySQL. A survey in 2020 found that MySQL was the most popular database choice, with over half of responding professional developers listing it as their top choice. PostgreSQL was a distant second.
One database firm compiled data that showed companies using MySQL were often small businesses located in the U.S. with between $1 million and $10 million in revenue.
“This is also attractive to small and medium-sized customers and departments of large organizations,” Floyer noted. “Clearly, companies that are more ‘bit oriented’ are going to adopt this technology quicker than those tied to physical products. Financial companies, smaller banks and healthcare will all tend to need more compute power and databases.”
Oracle executives paint a fairly broad picture of the customer use cases for HeatWave and MySQL applications in general. The database technology is being used by banks to improve fraud detection, by healthcare organizations to analyze medical fees, and by e-commerce firms seeking to improve the reach of digital marketing.
“We are talking about customers with anywhere from a terabyte of data all the way up to 22 terabytes,” said Nipun Agarwal, vice president of MySQL, HeatWave and advanced development at Oracle, during an exclusive briefing for Wikibon. “What customers see is reduced complexity and lower cost. It’s about one-third to one-fifth the cost, so the savings are huge.”
An examination of MySQL use cases shows how HeatWave is positioned to support enterprise needs. The transactional use of the technology is well entrenched. Adding the analytical component is likely to dramatically enhance the use case for a number of businesses.
France Billet uses MySQL to drive its ticketing platform, encompassing a booking service, e-commerce sites and a partner extranet. The College of William and Mary employs MySQL to deploy a network admission control security system. The BBC’s news website relies on MySQL to monitor reader interest.
The popularity of the database technology has sustained it, although there had not been a tremendous amount of innovation in the intervening years.
“The MySQL landscape needed a shakeup,” said Tony Baer, principal with dbInsight, in an analysis published after Oracle’s HeatWave release. “To enter a MySQL DBaaS market that was already pretty crowded, Oracle would have to sharply differentiate itself. Oracle’s new HeatWave engine does just that, turning up the heat on rival cloud MySQL services by not only adding analytics to the mix, but incorporating hardware and software optimizations that significantly accelerate performance.”
Performance makes a real-time difference
A few of the early use cases for HeatWave point to performance as an important differentiator. One HeatWave client – Siemens Healthineers – supports 5 million global patients daily with technology solutions in areas such as diagnostic and therapeutic imaging, laboratory research and molecular medicine. The firm uses several MySQL databases and found that tests of HeatWave reduced query times from hours to seconds and opened the door to more analytics-based capabilities as a result.
Another Oracle client – SCSK Corp. – is a Japanese IT firm offering a range of services and computer software for enterprise clients. It has also been a longtime MySQL user and was an early HeatWave adopter. SCSK found that HeatWave offered performance at least 10 times faster than the platform of another cloud vendor and noted that the elimination of extract, transform and load, or ETL, for data improved results considerably for the firm.
“We believe there are multiple drawbacks to having different databases or different services, one optimized for transaction processing and one for analytics and having to ETL between these different services,” said Agarwal, during a recent interview with theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s livestreaming video studio. “With HeatWave, all of the data resides in one database, which is MySQL, and it can run both transaction processing and analytics. Customers can also make their decisions in real time because there is no need to move the data.”
Why is real-time analytics important? A number of organizations have found that the ability to analyze data in real time provides concrete business advantages. One is Trulia Inc., which built its business as an online real estate marketplace. This makes it highly dependent on location data where it must instantly process changes in city boundaries or zip codes so its users have the most up-to-data and accurate information when making property transactions.
The edge is also becoming a key environment where real-time analytics play a crucial role. Industrial and commercial Internet of Things sectors, such as manufacturing, smart buildings, public transportation and the oil and gas industry, are becoming increasingly dependent on efficient processing of real-time data at the edge.
“My personal view is that the need for real-time analytics is going to become incredibly important,” Floyer said. “It’s opening up a market which really needs this type of converged database.”
For Oracle, the opportunity to reshape the MySQL landscape has led it to offer a technologically complex solution that, based on early use cases, appears to be finding a receptive enterprise market. With in-memory columnar hybrid processing to improve efficiency, massive inter and intra node parallelism to drive performance and scale, and sophisticated distributed query processing algorithms, HeatWave represents a step forward for the popular MySQL database.
“What you are seeing is the outcome of years and years of research and innovation,” said Agarwal, during his exclusive briefing with Wikibon. “Since we are the custodians of MySQL, we have many ideas of how to take various aspects of the code and optimize them or offer it in ways to innovate. The more complex the query is, the faster the acceleration. It’s a very novel approach for doing things.”
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