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Has v.3 Exadata Turned the Corner?

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X3 evolution

X3 evolution

Oracle’s Exa-line of database machines have taken their share of lumps in the press since their splashy debut several years ago. Might this be the year during which version 3 of the high capacity high price high ad-hype box either catches on or fizzles out? There have been well publicized flame wars between Oracle and IBM, and Oracle and SAP within this database-in-memory niche. Whenever the arguing has gotten more technically explicit, predictably, Oracle, IBM and SAP guys came out in favor of their home teams with their reasoned stats.

IBM provides the principal rivalry to the Oracle/Exadata stack proposition on the hardware side of the equation; the SAP/HANA in-memory product fulfills this role regarding the database software. Here’s a more comprehensive Oracle technical whitepaper if you need an overview of X3.

Oracle Exadata mktg pyramid

Oracle Exadata mktg pyramid

Attacks upon version 2 of Exadata tended to focus upon the impurity of it’s cobbled together design concept in contrast with IBM’s solid hardware engineered approach. With the release of version 3 the debates have evened out a bit. One recent study, focusing upon the distinctions between typical IT departmental silo rollouts and Oracle’s more PaaS-like approach, concluded that the Oracle TCO (total cost of ownership) came in at 30% lower than the IBM equivalent over 3 years. Here’s a sampling of my favorite illustrative thrusts and parries:
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         • French Financial Svcs. Exadata Customer Opens Up about Migration from Teradata
         • Blogger Defends Exadata against Teradata
         • Factpoint Study Favors Exadata over IBM (BYO)

         • Mike Ault’s NYOUG slideshow on Exadata Internals
         • Exadata Columnar Compression Feature Explained
         • SAP/HANA vs. Exadata Memory Claims

         • Exadata’s Storage is Not So Intelligent
         • Kevin Closson (ex-Oracle IBM defectee) Analyzes Exadata
         • Analyst’s Look at Longterm Exadata ROI Not Positive

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I thought to tone the rhetoric down a notch wouldn’t be a bad thing. The questions which developers and analysts have about Exadata aren’t easily answered without a sandbox of their own. For me, these questions involve how to alter one’s thinking as a developer and analyst in the face of a very differently behaving database. Tyler Muth has an interesting post which considers the Exadata feature which handles WHERE clause processing within intelligent storage. But best of all is the video interview below between Kerry Osborne and Cary Millsap, two longtime Oracle experts, reflecting upon their impressions after having first gotten playtime with the box.

I met Cary about a decade ago at one of his HotSOS seminars in Seattle. I knew from his workshops that he would be conscientious and apolitical in his comments about Exadata. Kerry too gives one the impression that he’s not about to foul his technical reputation for thoroughness with any Oracle-favorable comments unless he believes them. One interesting point which surfaced is that at present Oracle has still not made Exadata technical publicly available documentation. Both speakers think this would do a world of good to help build an Exadata community of expertise.

The interview took place at last year’s Enkitec E4 conference; the next one is happening in August in Texas. Here’s the video:

         • Osborne – Millsap Exadata Video Discussion

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