Expanding Section: The Usage of Open Source Databases

When Oracle discusses their database, they nearly always discuss the most recent version. The standard Oracle sales tactic is to state that only the Oracle DB has (insert in the ____ ) functionality. This is often stated by Oracle about HA (High Availability) or RAC (Clustering), even though these functionalities are in most cases better and more efficiently deployed from the virtual machine instead of the database layer.

Declining Importance of Database Functionality from More Recent Versions of the Oracle Database

Other areas of functionality have a low overlap with the primary Oracle customer market.

Newer Oracle Database Functionality

Oracle Database Functionality
1MultitenancyOracle 12c offers multitenancy (the ability to serve multiple customers from a single database instance) as a main new area of functionality. However, multitenancy is primarily used by SaaS vendors, that are less likely to be customers than companies that use the Oracle database internally.
2In Memory / Column StoreIn Memory / Column Store functionality was also added in Oracle 12c. However, there is little evidence that this was necessary, and it added expense and complexity to the database. In fact, this was most likely only done to combat SAP's HANA in memory database, which turned out to not be anything like what was advertised.

Diverging Views on the Part of Oracle Versus their Customers on How to Use the Oracle Database

Beyond these topics, the majority of customers do not agree with Oracle that they need the most up to date features that the more recent databases provide.

Oracle representatives state that they know their customers very well and that they have the best RDBMS in the world, and that they know how to develop their RDBMS to meet the needs of customers. Given the fact that the vast majority of Oracle DB customers are not running anywhere near the more recent versions of the Oracle database indicates one or several of these assertions are not true.

To determine the extent to which a high percentage of Oracle customers are using versions from years ago we have compiled the following table.

Database Version
Year of Introduction/Stable Release
1Oracle 192019 (not enough customers to track)
2Oracle 182018 (not enough customers to track)
3Oracle 12c2013
4Oracle 11g2007
5Oracle 10g2003
7Oracle 8i1998

What is the Proper Comparison of Open Source Databases to Oracle?

Open source databases are easy to upgrade and have no license or support liability. This means that when customers compare open source options, the comparison most of them would need to is to compare say the 2003 version of the Oracle DB (10g) to the 2019 version of PostgreSQL or MariaDB.

Why is this the proper comparison?

Because this is the version that the customers of the Oracle DB are most often using (i.e. not Oracle 12, Oracle 18 or Oracle 19). However, this framework is nearly never used when discussing the Oracle database. Invariably the discussion switches back to the most recent Oracle database version.

Secondly, Oracle’s newer or more advanced database functionality is increasingly in direct competition with virtualization technology (that is the server technology that made VMware well known).