Back in the late 90′s New York City was deep in the dot-com boom. Silicon Alley was being born, and a thousand internet startups were sprouting. Everyone was hiring, it was an exciting time to work in technology!
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Trend Spotting Circa 2000
As an independent consultant, I had the opportunity to work at quite a few startups. The technology stack was identical at almost all of them. Sun Microsystems hardware, Apache webservers, and Oracle on the backend. The database was always the sticking point, and developers struggled to get their queries right.
It was an interesting role to hold. Most career DBAs worked at large fortune 500 firms, the old stodgy kind where nothing ever changes. Few of the Oracle old guard, the kind you’d meet at User Groups or conferences, had much exposure to Linux, and they certainly didn’t trust it.
Meanwhile in the startup scene in NYC I was seeing the cutting edge uses of the technology, with more and more shops switching to Linux and commodity hardware. There was even talk of *gasp* Oracle porting to Linux. There was a real rumor mill around all of this.
Oracle and Open Source Published – 2001
Seeing this shift towards commodity hardware, and the tremendous demand for Oracle married with open source technologies, I pitched O’Reilly and Associates with a book idea. Let’s talk about what’s happening in the trenches. How and when does Oracle – the most commercial of relational databases, work with Open Source technologies? What is in the mix? What are real firms using it for? What tools and technologies can help firms grow faster?
These were the questions my co-author and I sought to answer, and to judge from the response I think we did a very good job. As that push continued, Oracle eventually ported it’s enterprise database to Linux. This was a seismic shift that meant existing Oracle customers would spend a lot less on hardware, and thus have more to spend on Oracle licenses. Win-win except for Sun. The trend continued with Oracle pushing Apache into the mix as well.
Fast Forward a Decade
Now a decade later, Oracle has bought it’s former partner Sun, and in so doing owns MySQL too.
What new trends are happening? We hear an incessant drum of hype around cloud computing. In many ways the trend parallels what happened a decade ago. See our related piece a history lesson for cloud detractors. How so?
[quote]Commoditization: push towards new platforms, driven by cost. [/quote]
But this is slowed by an equally large stumbling block.
[quote]Performance: new cloud servers can’t compete with their big iron cousins. Not yet at least.[/quote]
Interested in Amazon EC2? We wrote an Intro to EC2 Cloud Deployments article which digs in deeper.
What’s Next for Datacenters
Commiditization will continue, driving costs downward. This will provide more gravity to cloud migrations for firms big and small.
Performance will improve. Cloud services like Amazon EC2 will get bigger & better, as will the all important network & disk subsystems.
Big enterprises are already dipping their feet in the water with VPC technology, tying their existing datacenter to a cloud. They can grow elastically while still having feet firmly planted on the ground.
As large enterprises begin to get experience behind the wheel, it’ll chip away at the stranglehold of Oracle and the huge taxation type licensing that firms struggle with today. Where salesforce.com had a huge impact, workday.com will be even bigger.
[quote]The cloud will finally disrupt the last old guard industry – enterprise software.[/quote]
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