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Oracle 2020: A
Glimpse into the Future of Database Management, Part 1
Donald K. Burleson
The year is
2020, and the roles and responsibilities of the Oracle professional
have changed dramatically over the past 15 years. To fully
understand the benefits of computer hardware in the year 2020, we
must begin by seeing how the constant changes in CPU, RAM, and disk
technology have effected database management over the past six
Once we see
the history in its correct perspective, we can understand the
evolution of Oracle database systems into their current state.
Brief History Lesson
economics of server technology has changed radically over the past
60 years. In the 1960s, IBM dominated the server market with giant
mainframe servers that cost millions of dollars. These behemoth
mainframes were water-cooled and required huge operations centers
and a large staff to support their operations.
— Only the largest of corporations could afford their own data
processing center, and all small- to mid-sized companies had to
rent CPU cycles from a data center in order to automate their
— Small UNIX-based servers existed, such as the PDP-11. However,
they were considered far too unreliable to be used for a
— In 1981, the first commercial personal computer (PC) was
unveiled, and practically overnight, computing power was in the
hands of the masses. Software vendors rushed to develop useful
products that would run on a PC, and the introduction of
VisiCalc heralded the first business application outside the
— Oracle appears, and relational databases dominate the IT
market. Large shops have hundreds of small UNIX-based computers
for their Oracle databases.
— Monolithic servers reappear, and Oracle shops undertake a
massive server consolidation. By 2008, servers with 256
processors run hundreds of Oracle instances.
— Disk becomes obsolete, and all Oracle database are
solid-state. Hardware costs fall so much that 70 percent of the
IT budget is spent on programmers and DBAs.
result of the advances of hardware technology, the Oracle
professionals of the year 2020 have far different challenges than
their ancestors way back in 2005.
mainframe servers replaced the minicomputers of the early 21st
proprietary software is accessed over the Internet
replaced by IAs (Internet Appliances)
network bandwidth allows instant content delivery and
Internet becomes non-anonymous (thanks to Oracle's Larry
database systems are solid-state
become three dimensional, allowing for temporal data
||The New 21st Century Mainframes:
The AIX P690 servers have 128 processors and up to a
terabyte of RAM storage.
really important to note that all of these changes were the
direct reaction to advances in hardware technology.
Let's quickly review the major
advances in hardware over the past 15 years:
— The first database server with more than 1,000 CPUs is
introduced, enabling massive IT server consolidation. Dubbed
"Special K" servers because they have more than 1,000
processors, these boxes allow even the largest corporation to
place all of their Oracle instances on a single server.
— The first 128-bit processors are introduced.
— Hardware prices fall so much that they become negligible, and
the bulk of the IT budget shifts to human costs.
— Gallium Arsenide replaces silicon for
chips, increasing access speed into picoseconds.
— Worldwide high-speed satellite becomes the backbone of the
— Optical eye readers can identify your retina signature, and a
quick glance is all that is required for positive
hardware changes also precipitated important social changes, and the
increasing availability of computing resources led to worldwide
— Microsoft Office 2005 uses XML standards for MS Word documents
and spreadsheets. Business documents are now sharable among all
— The United Nations passes the Worldwide Internet Certification
Act (WICA), requiring positive identification for Internet
— The SQL-09 committee simplifies data query syntax, allowing
natural language database communication.
— W3C introduces the Verifiable Internet Protocol (VIP),
requiring verifiable identity to access the Web.
— Internic implements WICA and
reducing spam and cybercrime by 95 percent worldwide.
— Luddites protest the new lack of Internet privacy. The U.S.
Congress passes the Data Privacy Act (DPA), requiring all
custodians of confidential data to meet rigorous security and
— Internet bandwidth increase to allow high-speed communications
between any server.
— Internet Appliances (IA) replace personal computers, and all
proprietary software is accessible only through the Internet.
— Advertising becomes active, and retinal imaging allows for
instant identification and customizing of marketing messages.
Walk down the street and billboards target their content to the
needs of those viewing it at that moment.
Corporation has played an integral role in the movement, offering
low-cost database management and capturing over 90 percent of the
database market in 2020. During the past 15 years, we see Oracle
playing a major role in facilitating the new technology:
— Oracle 14m provides inter-instance sharing of
resources. All Oracle instances become self-managing.
— Oracle 16ss introduces solid-state, non-disk database
— Oracle's Larry Elision finances the Worldwide Internet
Identification Database, requiring non-anonymous access and
reducing cybercrime. Ellison receives the Nobel Peace Prize for
his humanitarian efforts.
— Oracle 17-3d introduces the time dimension to database
management, allowing three-dimensional data representation.
— Oracle starts manufacturing IAs for $50 each, replacing PCs
and making the Internet available everywhere in the world.
Elision becomes the world's first trillionaire.
As we see,
there have been a huge number of changes over the past 15 years, but
what caused them? Let's take a closer look at how the advances in
computer hardware precipitated these life-changing technologies.
Hardware Advances Between 2005 and 2020
Moore, Director of the Research and Development Laboratories at
Fairchild Semiconductor, published a research paper titled "Cramming
More Components into Integrated Circuits" in 1965.
performed a linear regression on the rate of change in server
processing speed and costs, and noted an exponential growth in
processing power and an exponential reduction of processing costs.
This discovery led to "Moore's
Law," which postulated that CPU power gets four-times faster every
three years (refer to figure 1).
the "real" Moore's Law cannot be boiled down into a
one-size-fits-all statement to the effect that everything always
gets faster and cheaper.
Prices are always falling, but there are important exceptions to
Moore's Law, especially with regard to disk and
technology (refer to figure 2):
As we can
see, these speed curves are not linear, and this trend has a
profound impact on the performance of Oracle databases. Let's take a
Disk Storage Changes
enough to remember when punched cards were the prominent data
storage device. Every year, I would get my income tax refund check
on a punched card, and we would make Christmas trees from punched
cards in the "Data Processing" department.
kids have no idea what the term "Do not fold, spindle or mutilate"
means, and they missed out on the fun of dropping their card deck on
the floor and having to use the giant collating machines to
re-sequence their deck.
In 1985, I
remember buying a 1.2 gigabyte disk (the
disk) for more than $250,000. Today, you can buy 100 GB disks for
$10, and 100 GB of RAM for $100. With these types of advances,
Law for storage costs indicates that:
storage costs fall 10x every year.
media is obsolesced every 25 years.
the change to Moore's Law for disks shows the limitations of the
spinning platter technology (refer to figure 3).
Disk speed peaked in the 1990s.
can only spin so fast without becoming aerodynamic, and the disk
vendors were hard-pressed to keep their technology improving in
speed. Their solution was to add a RAM front-end to their disk
arrays and sophisticated, asynchronous read-write software to
provide the illusion of faster hardware performance.
2020, you can buy 100 GB of
for only $100, with access times 600,000 greater than the ancient
spinning disk platter of the 20th century. In 2020, a terabyte of
costs less than $200.
introduction of Quantum-state Gallium Arsenide
in 2009 was the largest breakthrough in
RAM in more
then 40 years. Before 2009, RAM always became cheaper every year,
but it did not get faster. This meant that CPU speed continued to
outpace memory speed, and
subsystems had to be localized to keep the CPUs running at full
Silicon chips did not increase in speed.
RAM speed remained constant at about 20 microseconds (millionths of
a second), and even the solid-state database had to deal with the
continued increasing speed of CPU resources. Let's examine the CPU
changes over the past 15 years.
trend also exists for processor costs and speed. In the 1970s, a
4-way SMP processor costs over $3,000,000. Today in 2020, the same
CPU can be purchased for under $300. CPUs continue to increase speed
by four times as much every three years and cut cost in half.
bandwidth capacity doubles every ten years:
super-cheap, super-fast processors sounded the death-knell for the
age of small computers, and server blades (and Oracle10g
Grid computing) were replaced by large, monolithic
2005 and 2009, RAM had to be physically localized near the CPU to
keep the processors running at full capacity.
the speed of RAM increased to picoseconds (billionths of a second);
this development changed server architectures. The largest source of
latency was not the wires between the CPU and RAM, and fiber optic
cables were required to keep up with the processing speeds. During
this period, computer servers first began to take on the familiar
tower configuration that we know today. (As we all know, the tower
configuration is required to minimize the fiber optical length
between the CPU and RAM, and this is required to keep the CPUs
operating at full capacity.)
speed broke the picosecond threshold and approached the speed of
light, even the fastest 20th century networks could not keep up with
the processing demands. Quantum mechanics and atom-state technology
were combined with fiber optics to improve line speeds to keep pace
with the hardware.
advances in hardware made mini-computers instantly obsolete, and
management recognized that multiple servers were far too labor
intensive. Starting in 2005, we began to see the first wave of the
massive server consolidation movement. The large, 64-bit servers
with 16, 32, and 64 CPUs became so affordable that companies
abandoned their server farms in favor of a single-server source.
article has shown the major changes to Oracle database technology
between 2005 and 2020, and demonstrated how hardware advances
preceded and facilitated the changes to Oracle.
points of this article include:
remained significantly unchanged until 32-state Gallium Arsenide
technology broke the picosecond barrier.
made platter disks obsolete and heralded the creation of the
first solid-state Oracle architecture.
Improvements in Internet bandwidth made it possible to have
on-demand software delivery from Oracle.
In our next
installment, we will consider how the Oracle DBA's job role is far
different in 2020 than it was in 2005. We will also examine the
changes to Oracle software over the past 15 years and see how the
changing database technology has drastically changed the duties of
the Oracle DBA.