Oracle Autonomous JSON Database takes on MongoDB, Couchbase

The new Autonomous JSON Database is an attempt by Oracle to specifically support customers who only want document database capabilities and not a full multimodel database.

Oracle's new Autonomous JSON Database is generally available, providing users with a cheaper version of its cloud database that is specifically focused on JSON as a document database.

JSON, a widely used protocol for data interchange, is the foundation of document databases. Oracle already supported JSON within its Autonomous Database, the company's flagship cloud database offering that supports multiple formats.

The move to create a separate JSON document database offering intends to help serve developers who don't need all the capabilities of Oracle's main Autonomous Database offering, but still want the scalability and cloud management that Oracle provides.

Oracle's latest release is also about market competition, as there are multiple cloud-based JSON document database services, including MongoDB Atlas, Couchbase and Amazon DocumentDB.

"My view is that the main effect of this development will be to prevent existing Oracle customers from going to MongoDB, Couchbase or some other JSON document database for new workloads and for cloud migrations," IDC analyst Carl Olofson said. "This is partly aimed at migrations, but also new projects, which is why the low-cost Oracle Database for JSON is so important."

Autonomous JSON Database is priced at less than 25% of Oracle's full Autonomous Transaction Processing database, according to the company's website.

Oracle Autonomous JSON database
Oracle now enables its cloud users to create an Autonomous JSON database as one of the optional deployment choices.

How Autonomous JSON cloud database works

At the core of the new Autonomous JSON Database is an open source document store API known as Simple Oracle Document Access (SODA).

The SODA API has been part of the Oracle Autonomous Database since the database was released in 2018 and provides an interface that developers can interact with and query without the need for SQL, Oracle product manager Gerald Venzl explained. While users do not have to use SQL to query data in the document database, Venzl noted that SQL queries are supported as an option.

"We still allow people to use SQL on top of JSON," Venzl said. "It gives developers choice and flexibility."

The main effect of this development will be to prevent existing Oracle customers from going to MongoDB, Couchbase or some other JSON document database for new workloads and for cloud migrations.
Carl OlofsonAnalyst, IDC

JSON document database use cases

JSON database workloads are increasingly common, Venzl noted, though not all developers and users have been aware that Oracle supports that capability in its Autonomous Database cloud platform. By separating out JSON as a separate service, he said the goal is to raise awareness for the feature to attract more users.

The Oracle Autonomous Database is what is known as a multimodel database, supporting different models, including full transaction database, JSON and graph database approaches. Venzl noted that some users might have questioned why they should pay for the full-featured database, when all they need and use is JSON. As such, he expects that the new Autonomous JSON Database will help serve those users who only want to run a document database.

Oracle could potentially create additional specific Autonomous Database versions in the future, to support other uses,  such as a graph database. Oracle continually monitors the market to see what users need, he said.

"As of today, Autonomous JSON is the new kid on the block and we're excited to see how it will perform and what other new workloads will come along," he said.

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