Oracle Lets Fly Zippy TimesTen Database

Oracle puts out its first release of TimesTen since its June acquisition, managing to boost performance by 400 percent on this already fast-fast database technology.

Oracle Corp. has put out its first branding of the hyper-fast TimesTen in-memory database it acquired in June, releasing Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database 6.0 on Monday.

The update comes with enhanced caching performance and availability, larger in-memory databases and data caches, tighter integration with other Oracle products, and broadened support for standards including SQL and Java.

TimesTen adds very fast response time to what is now Oracles "good story" on scalability and high availability with 10g and RAC (Real Application Clusters), said Tim Shetler, former TimesTen vice president of marketing and now Oracles vice president of marketing for TimesTen.

TimesTen is a much lighter-weight, embeddable database than Oracles main database. It can be slipped into applications or application servers, sharing a platform with other software products, as opposed to Oracle Database, which lives in the back tier.

Linking the two allows users to specify subsets of Oracle databases and to access them using TimesTens very fast read/write capabilities. In doing so, TimesTen takes advantage of the 80/20 rule, Shetler said: Namely, that the most important, most accessed data constitutes about 20 percent of a databases entire data store.

"Lightweight, in-memory cache is the best thing for handling session state information," Shetler said. "Also, to the extent that people are trying to do any complex event processing or BI [business information] monitoring, theyll do it out of the middle tier as well."

Historically, the focus for such a super-fast database has been real-time operations, such as is necessary in big telecom service providers that support mostly mobile phone applications. Financial trading systems are another big user, with their need to grab trade requests and make counteroffers and assure the best price for clients, all in lightning-fast time.

With its TimesTen acquisition, Oracle has also been exploring horizontal applications for the fast technology, such as in call centers, Shetler said., for example, uses it in its baseline infrastructure to support personalized interactions of all CRM (customer relationship management) subscribers. TIBCO Software, for its part, embedded TimesTen into its BI monitoring tool a few months back.

"Thats an area in which we expect to see significant expansion within Oracle, given Oracles significant [existing] footprint," Shetler said.

The 6.0 release offers much tighter integration with Oracle, which means its much more resilient to network or server failures, he said. For an additional cost, the cache replication option allows cache updates to be replicated and allows the cache to remain operational even when the connection to the Oracle Database is lost, subsequently re-synchronizing when the connection is restored.

In addition, performance has been improved by a whopping 400 percent, thanks to a move away from synchronous updates. "To capture stuff and push it off the network and into Oracle, we were pretty limited because we were doing that synchronously with Oracle," Shetler said. "We were limited in update throughput to Oracle. We decoupled and made it asynchronous to capture whatever volume is in TimesTen and send it to Oracle in the background, where it can be consumed over time."

New layered standard JDBC API and JMS support, on top of Oracles proprietary API, has also brought everything up to complete standards compliance at this point, he said. "Any application you can envision is now supportable by TimesTen," Shetler said.

Also, a few SQL statements supported in TimesTen that had been implemented differently by Oracle are now aligned.

TimesTen differs from the super-fast ANTs Software Inc. database in that TimesTen resides in main memory and gets its speed through latency savings. It sits in process with applications, very tightly coupled, so the roundtrip from application to database is very quick. It typically front-ends other databases.

/zimages/2/28571.gifeWEEK Technology Editor Peter Coffee was impressed by ANTs super-speedy database engine. Click here to read more.

In contrast, ANTs is all about nonlocking technology. It was developed through supercomputing techniques where locking is avoided, allowing tremendous concurrency and the ability to process transactions in parallel in situations that have lots of users trying to get at the database, creating lots of contention.

ANTs is gunning for TimesTen customers. In August, ANTs released a version of its database, ANTs Data Server 3.2, that supports TimesTen applications.

Shetler shrugged it off. "We never see ANTs in the marketplace," he said. "[And] the beauty of following standards is its easy to take applications written for TimesTen and to run them anywhere else."

Oracle TimesTen is available now. Pricing ranges from $12,000 to $24,000 per CPU, depending on the size of the in-memory data store. Replication-TimesTen to TimesTen and Cache Connect to Oracle options are each available for $6,000 to $12,000 per CPU, depending again on the size of the in-memory data store.

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.