Here's The Latest Threat To Oracle's Database Empire


Jonathan Ellis, Datastax


Jonathan Ellis, cofounder DataStax

The biggest companies in the world keep their most valuable data in Oracle databases.


But there's a new kind of database, known as noSQL, that has slowly become a threat. noSQL began life as a supplement to a traditional "SQL" database, handling the kinds of things that SQL didn't do well. It works with messy data and can be spread across multiple, cheap servers.

SQL likes its data clean and labeled and all in one place, requiring expensive, big servers. That's one reason Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and got into the hardware business.

Until recently, makers of noSQL databases said their tech didn't really compete with Oracle's because it fits different needs. "Traditional relational databases are not going to go away," Dwight Merriman, cofounder of the noSQL company 10gen told Business Insider in November. 10gen makes a popular noSQL database called MongoDB.

Now 10gen's competitor, Jonathan Ellis, is challenging that perception. Ellis runs the free and open source noSQL project Cassandra, part of the Apache Foundation, the keeper of many open source projects. Ellis is also cofounder of DataStax, which provides commercial support for Cassandra users.


DataStax is flagrantly billing itself as an alternative to Oracle. Its website declares "Flocks of enterprises migrating away from Oracle to DataStax."

When asked by Infoworld's Paul Krill if Oracle should fear Cassandra, Ellis brazenly answered, "Yes." He says it's "getting hard to count" the number of companies yanking out Oracle for Cassandra.

He names Netflix, Openwave and Ooyala as examples.

We doubt that the mighty Oracle is quaking in its boots yet. Oracle commanded 48% of the database market as of 2012, according to Gartner.

But data from shows that at least one noSQL database, MongoDB, is among the Top 10 most popular databases and that its popularity is rising, while Oracle's declines.


Disclosure: Dwight Merriman, the 10gen cofounder and CEO, cofounded Business Insider and is an investor and board member.