"Ungodly speeds." That's what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is promising from a new Oracle 12C in-memory option for his company's database products.

The promise was made by Ellison at his keynote address Sunday night for the Oracle OpenWorld conference, taking place this week in San Francisco (Sept. 22-26). He said that putting data Relevant Products/Services into memory produced "ungodly" performance increases for both transactional and analytical workloads, and added that his company has goals of increasing speed for analytics Relevant Products/Services queries by 100 times and doubling the throughput for transactional processing. Oracle's entry into in-memory has been expected, although the details have been few until Sunday.

SAP's HANA

The in-memory option is one of the latest trends in databases, evidenced in particular by the HANA in-memory database product from SAP, one of Oracle's biggest competitors. In-memory technologies are also being launched by Microsoft and IBM, among others.

Ellison said that implementing the in-memory option is relatively easy to do. The option allows for storing data in in both rows and columns, in order to boost the performance of both transactional and analytical processing.

"You flip a switch and all your existing applications run much faster," Ellison told the keynote audience. He added that there are "no changes to your applications," and that everything working today "works with the in-memory option turned on and there's no data migration." Operations that used to take an hour, he said, now take only a few seconds, the in-memory option works in both symmetric multiprocessor and clustered deployments, and it works with existing servers.

Oracle can counter and exceed SAP's efforts on this front by leveraging its much larger customer Relevant Products/Services base for databases. Those customers may well prefer to experiment with an in-memory option from a known vendor and using a technology they are familiar with, even if it means upgrading to version 12 C.

'Now a Believer'

On SAP's corporate blog, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka said to Oracle that the good news is "you are now a believer in in-memory databases," which SAP has been doing for four years and is now "moving onto the next frontier."

Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, told us that "Oracle is trying to do what Microsoft, Cisco and others are trying to do," which is expand their product portfolio without damaging their legacy customer base.

While Oracle cannot be as agile as smaller companies, she said, it can position itself as being on the "leading edge" with such technologies as cloud, virtualization and now the in-memory option.

In addition to the in-memory option, Ellison announced a new version of Oracle's M6-32 Sparc server, called the Big Memory Machine, that can process a query at 341 billion rows a second. The new server is available now, but no release date was given for the in-memory option.