Oracle Nabs In-Memory Specialist TimesTen

Technology is seen as a potential boon to Oracle’s Fusion Middleware initiative

Oracle Corp. has been on an acquisition roll this year, first completing its acquisition of ERP giant PeopleSoft Corp., and then nabbing retail software specialist Retek. Last week, however, Oracle made its first BI-related acquisition of the year, snapping up in-memory database vendor TimesTen Inc.

The upshot, analysts say, is a natural fit between two highly complementary players. Oracle, of course, markets enterprise application and BI solutions that are premised largely on the performance and scalability of its flagship database. TimesTen, for its part, provides infrastructure software used for managing events, transactions and data in a number of verticals, including telecom, networking, and securities trading.

TimesTen CEO Jim Groff portrayed the deal as a win-win for customers of both companies. “Our customers will be the real winners here," Groff said in a statement. “Many of our customers already run on Oracle. By combining our technology with Oracle's industry-leading database and middleware, we will be able to provide an extremely responsive, scalable, robust, and secure solution.”

Oracle, not surprisingly, positions TimesTen’s in-memory database technology as a boon to its Fusion Middleware initiative, an audacious effort to reconcile Oracle’s own technology assets with those of the former PeopleSoft. Fusion Middleware includes the company’s popular Web application server, Data Hub, Business Intelligence, Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Process Manager, and Collaboration products, along with its application development tools and security and identity management offerings.

On the BI front alone, the TimesTen technology suggests several compelling usage scenarios, mainly involving real-time access to operational data.

“TimesTen’s in-memory database capabilities complement Oracle’s database technology and will allow users to extract subsets of Oracle-resident data for use in applications that require very high, near-real time performance,” says Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis Inc. “The two companies have an established partnership and the acquisition will surely lead to even stronger product integration.”

More to the point, says Schiff, there’s more than one way to skin a cat—or synchronize TimesTen’s in-memory database with Oracle’s relational beast. “Multiple mechanisms can be deployed to synchronize TimesTen/Cache data content with an Oracle database from which it was populated with a subset of data,” notes Schiff. “The cache also can allow transparent SQL pass-through whereby SQL statements that can’t be satisfied by the data in the cache can be sent to the source Oracle database. Of particular interest in data warehousing operational data store environments is the fact that the read-only option defaults to refreshing the cache whenever an update that affects it occurs in the source.”

Schiff adds, “The acquisition of TimesTen will provide Oracle with strong and proven in-memory database and database synchronization technology; technology that will surely be used to by Oracle to expand the breadth and depth of its Fusion Middleware initiative.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.