Feeds

Oracle 'cheated' in TPC benchmarks

Denies wrong doing

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Myths and legends When database folks gather to sup ale and chat, as they invariably will at Oracle's OpenWorld in San Francisco this week, talk occasionally turns to benchmarking. As soon as it does, someone will say: "Of course the trouble is you can't trust the vendors. Wasn't Oracle caught cheating at the TPC benchmarks?"

The public has a right to know the truth...

The Transaction Processing Performance Council is a non-profit corporation that defines its role in life with commendable clarity. The organization was founded in 1988 to "define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable TPC performance data to the industry".

By devising tests that ensure all systems are performance tested in the same way for the same criteria, the TPC - strangely the second P seems invariably silent - aims to provide the fairest possible comparison between systems. The TPC's earliest benchmark was TPC-A for On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) systems: the two most often cited today are TCP-C (a heavily revised and updated version of TCP-A) and TCP-H for decision support systems.

Each benchmarked system is given a score; the TPC-C quotes transactions per minute (tpmC) and also a Price/tpmC. These figures give customers and industry commentators a way to make meaningful comparisons between systems - and manufacturers take an even keener interest in the results.

In April 1993 the Standish Group claimed Oracle had incorporated an extra "discrete transaction" option into its product that would let it perform particularly well against the TCP-A benchmark but offered no noticeable benefit to customers. Standish opined that, by adding this option, Oracle was putting forward for testing a "benchmark special" and that in doing so the company had violated the spirit of the TPC.

Oracle vigorously refuted these claims, saying the system tested adhered fully to the published benchmark specifications. The company also pointed out that since these specs made no mention of benchmark specials, it could not possibly be in violation of anything. And Oracle was right: the TPC had no rules to exclude special editions of software for testing.

It was an area the TPC suddenly felt moved to address and by September that year a clause had been added to the specifications that prohibited benchmark specials. It came into effect in June 1994. Oracle did not test its discrete transaction-enabled version against the beefed-up benchmarks and by October had withdrawn from its literature any mention of the benchmark score gained in tests on that version.

So was Oracle's behavior legal, decent and honest?

It was certainly legal: the TPC was aware of the Standish Group's claim but never formally discussed whether Oracle had put forward a benchmark special or made any decision about it. Since the TPC never discussed the issue of "cheating" I think it is unreasonable to accuse Oracle of cheating.

Deciding whether decency and honesty were best served, though, is a matter of opinion and best left as an exercise for the reader.®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really
Windows NEIN skipped, tech preview due out on Wednesday
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.