Oracle makes 'big data' push even bigger

Oracle is doubling down on "big data" with a number of new products and enhancements to existing ones, in hopes that customers looking to analyze massive amounts of information for business insights will in turn invest further in Oracle.

For one thing, Oracle's Big Data Appliance (shown above) now features "enterprise-class" security for Hadoop, the open-source data processing framework, Oracle announced Monday during the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

Specifically, Big Data Appliance has been integrated with Kerberos and LDAP authentication, as well as Oracle Audit Vault and Database Firewall, according to the announcement. The software add-ons can peer into Hadoop audit trails, looking for suspicious activities and alerting administrators, as well as generate reports when desired.

Oracle has also released additional features for Hadoop, including a new connector that "enables standard XQuery operations to process and transform XML documents, executing in parallel across the Hadoop cluster," according to Monday's announcement.

In addition, Big Data Appliance now features Perfect Balance, which modulates workloads for faster performance in MapReduce jobs, Oracle said.

Oracle's big data product arsenal also includes its flagship database, for which a new in-memory option was announced Sunday.

While definitions vary, in general big data refers to the massive amounts of information being created by social media, sensors, websites and other sources. Observers also often invoke the "three Vs" of big data, namely the variety, velocity and volume of information flows.

Some 64 percent of organizations surveyed in a new Gartner study said they are investing now or plan to invest in big data technology, up from 58 percent in 2012.

Still, it appears that most of the activity around big data remains in the heavy hype from vendors selling products aimed at it. Less than 8 percent of respondents to Gartner's survey have in fact deployed their big data platforms.

That said, "there is real substance behind the hype," Gartner research director Lisa Kart said in a statement. "Our survey underlines the fact that organizations across industries and geographies see 'opportunity' and real business value rather than the 'smoke and mirrors' with which hypes usually come."

Big data analytics are "hugely important" to Thomson Reuters, said Mark Bluhm, senior vice president of global data center, during an onstage interview at OpenWorld Monday with Oracle Co-President Mark Hurd.

Thomson Reuters' customers aren't looking for search engines, he said: "It's, give us the research so we can make a decision."

Bluhm gave the example of a South Pacific storm and its potential effect on oil prices. If customers can know quickly how the storm will delay tankers, "suddenly instead of becoming victims, they become opportunists," he said.

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