Oracle's big data appliance: Ready, set, wait?

Oracle is making a big data appliance push, but the pieces are still coming together.

Oracle is big data happy and now has an appliance to prove it. The problem: The workers at Oracle's big data boot at OpenWorld don't quite know much about the big data push yet.

On Monday, Oracle announced its Big Data Appliance. This appliance would analyze unstructured data such as feeds, sensors and text that doesn't quite fit with data warehouses today. Oracle's big data appliance fits in with systems like the Oracle Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine.

Specifically, Oracle's big data machine packages Apache Hadoop, Oracle NoSQL Database, and various connectors for Hadoop. Naturally, Oracle's big data appliance ties into Database 11g, Exadata and other systems in the line-up.

Cowen analyst Peter Goldmacher, who has been following this big data trend closely, naturally was curious about Oracle's moves. His findings are a touch comical. He said in a research note:

We went to the demo booth labeled Big Data to learn more about it assuming that it actually exists because the press release described it in the present tense. However, the person at the booth said it wouldn’t be ready until next year. When I asked how Hadoop, which is meant to run on massively distributed commodity hardware, makes sense in an appliance, I clearly stumped the Big Data consultant. I think Oracle is still a ways away from any real product.

Oracle didn't exactly say when it would officially board the big data bandwagon, but its messaging has been clear. The plan: Absorb big data and keep Oracle database customers.

Ellison recently said on Oracle's first quarter conference call.

Hadoop and all of the associated utilities with Hadoop which is used — they use the term big data for all that, is going to be one of the feeder systems to the Oracle database. We have announced interfaces that allow you to go — to take your Hadoop systems and connect them to Oracle systems so you can load your Hadoop data into Oracle. So we think it’s going to increase the usage of Oracle.

For now, however, there seems to be a bit of a gap between Oracle's timelines and big data utopia. Oracle is holding an analyst meeting Thursday where it is expected to outline its cloud strategy. Perhaps the big data master plan will surface then.