Beware of NoSQL standards in Oracle's clothing

Oracle is reportedly trying to lure NoSQL startups into a standards body, perhaps to slow down the pace of change

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Yet the future is coming. The future appears to be one in which you don't throw the RDBMS at every problem and/or make every problem fit the RDBMS -- often at great cost -- but one where you pick the right datastore for the right problem. This future may or may not cost Oracle its dominant position, but it will nearly immediately slice away its premium stuff (RAC, Golden Gate, Data Guard, and so on), where Oracle is used at high concurrency or scale.

Oracle benefits if the future comes more slowly -- and the market is confused by weird Relatable-NewSQL-RAC-DataGuard-JDBC-like-Thing standards that ideally don't work. If Oracle can control the standards process, it can exert some control over access to the market. It is a great place to inject some patentable technology under FRAND terms. It's also a good proving ground for its eventual acquisition of a NoSQL vendor or two.

But what do the vendors think of it?

I asked that very question of most of the big names, and most said they had no comment. I did get a reply from Couchbase. Rahim Yaseen, SVP of Products and Engineering, said:

It's an interesting move. The reports are that Oracle is focusing on GTM vs. technology. That is very un-Oracle. It would seem that they are realizing that they are once again missing a major technology shift and are scrambling to respond as database is their core business. Modern data volumes and types do not work well in a relational database. That's why companies who have longstanding relationships with Oracle are turning to Couchbase, among others, for new mission critical deployments. Couchbase provides performance at scale that Oracle simply can't deliver -- and we do it for a fraction of the cost. It makes for an easy purchase decision, which is probably why Oracle is getting nervous.

Product plug aside, that is some pretty solid analysis of "The Lawnmower" -- and he should know, as he's worked there twice.

So standards are bad?

This may seem like a big attack on standards altogether, but I think some level of standardization is good for the industry. Standardization is a sign of maturity, and parts of the NoSQL marketplace are quickly arriving there.

Oracle is right: It's time to have some standardization, but Oracle has not earned a seat at that table, let alone the right to own the table. It may be best if some of the highly competitive NoSQL vendors come together themselves rather than taking a seat on an already compromised standards board.

This article, "Beware of NoSQL standards in Oracle's clothing," was originally published at Keep up on the latest news in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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