Oracle's plan to buy Tangosol Inc. could be a sign that the database and business applications powerhouse is getting ready to make a play in the emerging Information-as-a-Service (IaaS) market, according to one IT analyst firm.
Tangosol's in-memory, caching data grid software is a "key enabler" of IaaS, said Mike Gilpin, vice president and research director with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. And upon buying Tangosol, he said, Oracle will boast all of the technology components it needs to offer a complete IaaS package.
IaaS -- sometimes referred to as Data-as-a-Service -- is a relatively new way of integrating data in a service-enabled fashion, much the same way that transactional systems are exposed as services in service-oriented architectures (SOAs). Experts say that IaaS is particularly valuable to users that may be widely dispersed but need to access information quickly. Early adopters of the methodology include emergency call centers and customer contact centers.
"One of the issues of integrating information when you've got widely distributed users is trying to get the performance of the integration to be fast enough," Gilpin said. "So one of the strategies that have been used in the IaaS wave is to pre-integrate the information and cache it in the memory."
That's where Tangosol comes in.
"The fact that Oracle acquired Tangosol is certainly a step in the right direction because the caching of the data is a critical component [for] an IaaS strategy," said Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna.
There's a rising amount of interest in IaaS, Yuhanna said, and it's being driven by the fact that many organizations are desperately trying to get a handle on growing stores of structured and unstructured data in order to improve performance.
"IaaS becomes a very important play because if you decouple the application from the data, the application focuses on business logic," Yuhanna said. "Getting the data apart from the application is what IaaS is all about, and that is the reason why caching becomes a crucial requirement going forward."
Oracle last week announced its intention to buy Somerville, Mass.-based Tangosol, saying that it expects to close the deal sometime next month. Financial details of the acquisition -- Oracle's 28th in a multiyear buying spree that included the purchase of CRM giants PeopleSoft Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc. -- were not disclosed.
Pieces of the IaaS pie
Oracle already offers the ability to store data in-memory through its Gilpin added that Oracle also offers service-enabled business intelligence tools, which are needed to access information after it has been integrated.
Oracle didn't talk much about IaaS when announcing the Tangosol deal, Gilpin said. Instead, the company is currently more focused on the so-called Extreme Transaction Processing (XTP) capabilities that Tangosol brings to the table. The only problem, he said, is that most IT professionals don't know what XTP means.
"That's a good question, and I'm not sure Oracle could tell you the answer," Gilpin said. "But I think what they're really [referring to] is people who have very high-end computing requirements that are not being very well satisfied by existing systems. It's clearly just a term that Oracle invented."
"I think it is correct, however, that IT people understand that there are high-end transaction processing problems that are difficult to solve," Gilpin said, "and that putting data in-memory is one of the ways to solve those problems."