Part VII of a lightly-edited partial transcript of a panel discussion titled “Making SQL Great Again (SQL is Huuuuuge)” at YesSQL Summit 2016 organized by the Northern California Oracle Users Group (NoCOUG) at Oracle Corporation’s headquarters in Redwood City, California. NoCOUG is the longest-running and most-active Oracle users group in the world. An individual membership only costs $95 and entitles the member to free admission to the four consecutive quarterly NoCOUG conferences (one-day events) that follow the membership’s start date, the winter conference being the first day of YesSQL Summit. You can become a member at

The panelists were Andrew (Andy) Mendelsohn (Executive Vice-President, Database Server Technologies, Oracle), Graham Wood (Architect, Oracle), Bryn Llewellyn (Distinguished Product Manager, Oracle), Hermann Baer (Senior Director, Product Manager, Oracle), Steven Feuerstein (Architect, Oracle). The moderator was Kyle Hailey, an Oracle ACE Director and member of the OakTable Network. The complete video of the panel discussion has been published by Oracle Corporation on the Oracle Channel on YouTube.

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII

[What is Oracle doing to fend off NoSQL and Hadoop?]

Andy Mendelsohn: Over the years, whenever interesting new ideas have popped up in the database space, one of the interesting things is because Oracle and relational databases in general have this declarative language, this SQL language, and customers write applications at the SQL level, we are free to innovate in the infrastructure of the database with our query optimizer or access methods or parallel query, all that stuff; we are free to change widely and as long as it makes your SQL applications run faster and with better performance, customers love it. And so a lot of ideas that have come out over the years like parallel query in the 80s and clustering—scalable clustering technologies and now sharding—are all transparent in the infrastructure of the database and we are free to add them to Oracle and customers will get the advantage of interesting ideas. Like sharding is something that everybody is all excited about now; that’s what makes you webscale supposedly.

Well in Oracle 12c R2, we’re introducing sharding to the product and as always going to be completely transparent to your application so all those applications you wrote over the years can now be sharded. Now sharding is actually one of these things where if you want the highest performance actually you have to actually not be completely transparent to your application; you have to give us the shard key and tell us you know which shard you want this operation to act against but we also give you a way of just saying “Here’s a SQL statement; Oracle you just figure out which shards have the data and go do it for me” so we’ll do that as well. But sharding is a good example of something we’re assimilating into Oracle and that supposed advantage of NoSQL will go away with 12c R2.

We’ve also added things like JSON; that’s in 12c R1 and so the relational model is very flexible. A lot of these supposed advantages of NoSQL systems are just going to be assimilated into Oracle databases so customers want JSON, they want schemaless, they want sharding, whatever; all that’s coming along with Oracle SQL and Oracle relational databases are including pretty much everything that people think is interesting about NoSQL. So most developers  I think will be very happy with what they get with Oracle versus NoSQL databases because they get all the functionality of SQL and they get a standard interface and all the other benefits of SQL as opposed to going with NoSQL where, whichever NoSQL engine you go against, you lock yourselves in forever if there’s no standards. And people used to really not like to be locked into individual products, especially in this space where the vendors are likely not to be around in five years.

One of the nice things about relational databases is they do absorb any good idea that comes up in any competing data management area. … Graham quoted Larry—“we are in a fashion industry”—and three or four years ago, SQL went out of fashion. I think SQL is coming back into fashion. The Hadoop community is all behind SQL. It’s definitely cool again. I don’t think there’s any question about that and I think the NoSQL stuff is actually becoming less cool. It’s all going through cycles. SQL is now on the upswing again. NoSQL stuff is now going back on the downswing. But again, NoSQL and SQL have co-existed for 40 years and they’ll co-exist for the next 40 years as well.

Graham Wood: So you can now have sharding in red.

Kyle Hailey: I think that’s a great way to end it. SQL is now getting cool again, that’s what I heard.

Graham Wood: Yes.

Panelists introduce themselves and tell their stories.

Why are we even having this discussion? Why is it necessary to defend SQL? Are NoSQL and Hadoop temporary phenomena that will eventually fade away just like object-oriented database management systems?

The NoSQL folks claim that NoSQL is “web scale”. Are relational database management systems “web scale”? How does PL/SQL fit into the performance picture? Is PL/SQL “web scale”?

Why does Oracle Corporation sell a NoSQL DBMS?

If SQL is the best language for Big Data, what explains the rise of Hadoop?

What is the Oracle Developer Advocates team doing to defend RDBMS?

Copyright © 2016 Iggy Fernandez