If you’re bored
The Google vs Microsoft story is so stupid it bores me to tears (see Googzilla vs Microsofthra: The Gathering Squall). So it perks me up no end to see an actual story of real conflict emerging between the world’s most successful internet advertising agency and one of the titans of old boring enterprise tech.

That would be Oracle
While there is no way that Google’s on-line office suite is a substitute for Microsoft’s full Office product, the same cannot be said for search, unstructured data and databases.

Unstructured data, according to unimpeachable factoids floating about the infosphere, is something like 85% of all stored data. And Oracle wants a piece of that.

I don’t blame them – it’s American to want something better
Which is one reason George Bush is in big trouble. Not to mention Britney Spears.

Somebody at Oracle has twigged to the 85% number and Has A Plan. The Plan: persuade everyone to put their unstructured data into Oracle databases. Eureka!

I can see the executive team meeting now:

“I think we can all agree that all the world’s data should be in a database. So here’s the business case.”

Sucking up the world’s unstructured data initiative (SUTWUDI)

  • SUTWUDI expands Oracle’s TAM 6X!
  • The stock will go through the roof!!
  • We’ll be even richer!!!

[end slide]

“So, boss, shall we run with it?

“You pathetic mental midget, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. But put enough frosting on it and somebody might bite. We can’t let Google’s enterprise search appliances become the de facto access tool for unstructured enterprise data.”

And there’s the rub
Managing the huge mass of rarely accessed unstructured data is inherently a tough problem. Add to that the fact that the economic justification for doing so – storage, data center and power cost displacement – isn’t very compelling.

So there is a certain bone-headed logic to Oracle’s SUTWUDI plan. Get people to place their low-value data in a costly database and then they’ll have the economic incentive, and the tools, to manage that data. So expect to see tank cars of frosting out in Redwood Shores.

There might be a business case for *some* migration of currently unstructured data to databases. But it would take some finesse and some rethinking of the how and the why for keeping unstructured data. If only ILM had actually worked. Sigh.

The StorageMojo take
IBM started peddling computers as simply faster accounting machines, a business they had already done very well in. Hierarchical databases reflected the accounting world while relational databases reflected a more dynamic world. Unstructured data is the world.

Putting unstructured data into relational databases seems counter-intuitive at best. Really cheap search – which is where Google comes in – seems like the much better fit.

Yet we are also starting to see the limits of keyword search as a means for finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. The Googlers are well aware of this, but the blinding insight of page rank seems to be eluding them this time. It is a major opportunity and, potentially, a limiting factor for massive storage growth.

Comments welcome, as always. Oracular ones, feel free to weigh in.