Journey From the Oracle Database to SingleStore: A Database Odyssey


Nabil Nawaz

Master Principal Solutions Engineer

Journey From the Oracle Database to SingleStore: A Database Odyssey

Way back in the late 1990s when I was a computer science student, I remember taking my first college-level database design class and shortly afterward, I took a class on the Oracle database. I was amazed by the technology and what it was capable of, and from that moment I knew I needed to work with Oracle in my professional career.

I initially started with Oracle database version 7.1.6 running on Unix, and remember spending hours reading tons of thick manuals (online manuals came much later in my career). Since graduating from college back in 1997, the Oracle database has primarily been my entire career (so far). I was blessed to be working as an Oracle database administrator right after college graduation, learning so many things by working with several customers and large Fortune 100 companies leading highly visible, mission-critical projects — like a near-zero downtime Oracle database migration using Golden Gate from version 11gR2 to 18c on Exadata for Delta Airlines. I became an expert with all facets of the Oracle database including upgrades, security, backup, recovery, cloning, migration to new platforms, performance tuning, implementing high availability and disaster recovery solutions.

In the past decade I became certified for Oracle Exadata, Oracle's flagship engineered system to run the Oracle database. I also co-authored the Oracle Exadata Expert's Handbook, an awesome opportunity I’m very thankful for since Exadata is a game-changing platform for Oracle. In my career, I have also had the opportunity to speak multiple times at technology conferences including Collaborate, Heartland OUG Conference, Oracle user group events and virtual presentations.

Back in 2019, I joined Oracle Corporation as a Principal Sales Consultant, and it was a dream come true. I was officially part of the company that initially sparked my interest in the Oracle database almost 25 years ago! I was in a technology sales role focused on creating solution architectures/pipelines for Oracle’s cloud technology and infrastructure that utilize Oracle's Engineered Systems (like Exadata). It was my primary job and responsibility to share my knowledge and experience with customers for running the Oracle database on Exadata.

Some public education videos I contributed to while working at Oracle include Exadata performance best practices, migration methods, smart snapshot cloning and more.

I am very fortunate to have worked on the Oracle database in depth as an expert. I have also worked with other databases briefly as well, mainly in the capacity for migrating to Oracle from other databases like DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL.

enter-single-store-the-database-of-now™Enter SingleStore: The Database of Now™!

I really thought my whole career would be primarily focused on Oracle database technology — until one day when SingleStore (formerly MemSQL) came across my radar. I started the interview process with a bit of hesitation — I hadn’t heard of the SingleStore database — but with an open mind, I began to research the company to learn more.

Let's pause for a moment. Do you remember the movie "The Matrix"? Spoiler alert:  There is a scene near the end of the movie where Neo is shot several times by Agent Smith. Neo is presumed dead and then suddenly awakens (while epic vocals play in the background). He’s enlightened and fully aware of his true reality within the Matrix… I kind of felt the same way when I learned about SingleStore.

I had tunnel vision for Oracle. But when I started to learn more about SingleStore, I was introduced to a whole new universe of database technology that is offered through SingleStore’s innovative data system. It then became very clear to me why SingleStore is The Database of Now™.

As I spoke to several people during my interview, I was amazed at the capabilities of the SingleStore database technology and what it can do, especially without relying on any specialized hardware like an engineered system. SingleStore is a blazing fast, SQL-based RDBMS that powers mission-critical applications and can run anywhere including on-premises, in a customer's datacenter or in the cloud. We even have a fully managed service that currently runs in AWS, Azure and Google Cloud — and a hybrid cloud where we manage the control plane, and you choose the cloud or on-premises environment to store and query your data.

SingleStore has several nice bundled features at no extra cost that are similar — and even exceed — Oracle:

  • Columnar Compression: Our database allows fast query performance and storage savings. In Oracle, this is a feature only available by using Exadata, ZFS Storage Appliance or the Oracle Database Appliance.
  • High Availability: Our platform is distributed and has High Availability built in by default, whereas this feature is offered in Oracle RAC at an extra cost.
  • Data Redundancy: Built in by default, we distribute data across several leaf nodes (similar to cell nodes in Exadata) to offer the best combination of database performance and availability.
  • Real-Time Reporting: This is available from a Standby Cluster we are replicating to. This feature is an extra cost offered by Active Data Guard.
  • Built-In Segment Elimination: This is achieved from an i/o scan by using sort keys that are data aware within a table, like knowing min and max values. We eliminate or filter rows that do not need to be queried, which is very useful for fast reporting.
  • Sharding: A shard key is a collection of one or more columns in a table that is used to control how the rows of that table are evenly distributed across a SingleStore cluster, helping with overall query performance. Both sort keys and sharding are similar to how partitioning works in the Oracle database. Partitioning is offered in Oracle — at an extra cost.

One of our major differentiators from Oracle is SingleStore Pipelines. With Pipelines, we can ingest large volumes of data super fast from various file formats including CSV, Parquet, Avro; real-time streaming services like Kafka/Spark; and online cloud locations like AWS S3 buckets. Imagine loading 2.8 billion rows in about 38 seconds, or 100 billion rows ingested into a database in about 11.5 minutes — that is 145 million rows/second!

Overall, SingleStore drives 10-100x better performance at just one-third or one-fourth of the cost compared to Oracle. We have several leading enterprise customers who have moved from Oracle RAC and Oracle Exadata to drive down costs while improving the performance of their applications. Check out our Oracle vs. SingleStore comparison page to learn more.

In my time working at SingleStore and speaking with several customers, I have realized that customers are in fact looking for alternative databases to Oracle to run their application workloads. Oracle is very good at what it does — however when choosing a modern database platform, I highly suggest you consider SingleStore. When you compare the features we offer vs. overall cost and TCO, we promise to put a smile on your face.

In conclusion, I have total respect for Oracle, what it has done for my career and where it has led me today. I am very thankful to SingleStore for the golden opportunity ahead to be part of a growing company, and to help our customers achieve success by unleashing the power of their data with a single database for all data-intensive applications.

SingleStore was recently named to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Database Management Systems! We are one of 20 databases out of more than 350 database companies in the market that is on the MQ. It is quite an industry honor!

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career like I did, check out open positions and opportunities at SingleStore.