Monday Oct 15, 2012

Oracle Exalogic Customer Momentum @ OOW'12

[Adapted from here

At Oracle Open World 2012, i sat down with some of the Oracle Exalogic early adopters  to discuss the business benefits these businesses were realizing by embracing the engineered systems approach to data-center modernization and application consolidation. Below is an overview of the 4 businesses that won the Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation Award for Oracle Exalogic this year.

Company: Netshoes
About: Leading online retailer of sporting goods in Latin America.
Challenges:

  • Rapid business growth resulted in frequent outages and poor response-time of online store-front
  • Conventional ad-hoc approach to horizontal scaling resulted in high CAPEX and OPEX
  • Poor performance and unavailability of online store-front resulted in revenue loss from purchase abandonment

Solution:
Consolidated ATG Commerce and Oracle WebLogic running on Oracle Exalogic.
Business Impact:
Reduced abandonment rates resulting in a two-digit increase in online conversion rates translating directly into revenue up-lift

Company: Claro
About: Leading communications services provider in Latin America.
Challenges:

  • Support business growth over the next 3  - 5 years while maximizing re-use of existing middleware and application investments with minimal effort and risk

Solution:
Consolidated Oracle Fusion Middleware components (Oracle WebLogic, Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle Tuxedo) and JAVA applications onto Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata.
Business Impact:
Improved partner SLA’s 7x while improving throughput 5X and response-time 35x for  JAVA applications

Company: UL
About: Leading safety testing and certification organization in the world.
Challenges:

  • Transition from being a non-profit to a profit oriented enterprise and grow from a $1B to $5B in annual revenues in the next 5 years
  • Undertake a massive business transformation by aligning change strategy with execution

Solution:
Consolidated Oracle Applications (E-Business Suite, Siebel, BI, Hyperion) and Oracle Fusion Middleware (AIA, SOA Suite) on Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata
Business Impact:
Reduced financial and operating risk in re-architecting IT services to support new business capabilities supporting 87,000 manufacturers

Company: Ingersoll Rand
About: Leading manufacturer of industrial, climate, residential and security solutions.
Challenges:

  • Business continuity risks due to complexity in enforcing consistent operational and financial controls;
  • Re-active business decisions reduced ability to offer differentiation and compete

Solution:
Consolidated Oracle E-business Suite on Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata
Business Impact:
Service differentiation with faster order provisioning and a shorter lead-to-cash cycle translating into higher customer satisfaction and quicker cash-conversion

Check out the winners of the Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation awards in other categories here.

Wednesday Sep 26, 2012

Supercharging the Performance of Your Front-Office Applications @ OOW'12

[Re-posted from here.]


You can increase customer satisfaction, brand equity, and ultimately top-line revenue by deploying  Oracle ATG Web Commerce, Oracle WebCenter Sites, Oracle Endeca applications, Oracle’s  Siebel applications, and other front-office applications on Oracle Exalogic, Oracle’s combination  of hardware and software for applications and middleware.

Join me (Sanjeev Sharma) and my colleague, Kelly Goetsch, at the following conference session at Oracle Open World to find out how Customer Experience can be transformed with Oracle Exalogic:

Session:  CON9421 - Supercharging the Performance of Your Front-Office Applications with Oracle Exalogic
Date: Wednesday, 3 Oct, 2012
Time: 10:15 am - 11:15 am (PST)
Venue: Moscone South (309)

Saturday Jul 14, 2012

Oracle Exalogic in Higher-Education: Virtual Learning Environments

In the quest to become the leading education institutions of choice  and draw world-class academic and student talent forward-thinking universities continue to embrace and evolve ICT to further their agenda in learning, teaching and research. However the global and domestic financial and operating environments impacting universities have grown increasingly challenging applying increased pressure in two ways.

  1. From a revenue perspective, the potential of a second global financial crisis looms large, with the potential to trigger yet another global recession. While education sector has been less affected by economic cycles in the past, the unprecedented level of economic turmoil that exists today makes it difficult to anticipate the revenue ramifications.
  2. From a cost perspective, further globalisation has greatly increased the competitive nature of the higher education sector, especially so due the boom in demand for education services and proliferation of education providers in emerging markets.
So how are leading universities preparing themselves to respond to this challenge and what sort of transformation are they hoping to realize?

Integral to achieving their goal of attracting top student talent is being able to provide outstanding student experience. While enhancing the campus based experience is still very important, universities are increasingly looking to augment physical campus based learning with virtual, online delivery of educational programs and services.

To offer students an engaging, stimulating and fun environment for learning universities have invested in a range of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) at the core of which is the Student Portal, the Learning Management System and Student self-services such as IT help-desk etc. Periodically universities need to undertake a major refresh of these applications to deliver the next generation, collaborative and mobile learning experience. In addition to this, back-office university information systems must support seamless and cost effective access to information for decision making, and transactional services. Universities increasingly want to deliver shared services in collaboration with other institutions. As such universities are refreshing their back-office finance and resource planning applications with to ensure they can drive efficiency in their critical budget planning and operations processes.

Now there are many other applications universities rely on to manage their infrastructure, administrative services, alumni services and so on. A key challenge facing universities in their large-scale application modernization efforts is that upgrading to modern applications places further demands on data-centre infrastructure include storage, compute nodes and networking gear. Not to mention, refreshing the data-centre infrastructure entails integration risk due to multi-vendor procurement, testing, tuning and optimization. 

An approach to IT that worked well in the past centered around plugging the gaps in desired capability and driven by ad-hoc requests. However the sustainability of that approach is becoming a real impediment to optimizing CAPEX and OPEX budgetary controls given the woes of infrastructure fragmentation. As such universities are now standardizing their infrastructure and consolidate core applications on an open standards based environment. This is what is shifting their thinking towards engineered systems from Oracle including Oracle Exadata for the data tier and Oracle Exalogic for the middle tier.

Broadly speaking, there are primarily 3 factors why Oracle Exalogic has become the logical choice of running business applications for higher education institutions:

Firstly, Oracle Exalogic has enabled universities to accelerate the go-live time for application modernization by providing a pre-integrated, pre-tested, pre-optimized and pre-tuned infrastructure that enables end-to-end apps-to-disk management.

Secondly, Oracle Exalogic has allowed universities to consolidate application workloads, thus reducing the number of physical servers and further improving data-centre density through virtualization. This has brought cost savings in terms of software licenses, maintenance and energy consumption.

Thirdly, Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata have allowed universities to shift towards a private cloud platform model for metering and charging computing resources as multi-tenant services, effectively transforming their IT from a cost-center to a profit-center.

Find out more, at the upcoming Exalogic Elastic Cloud 2.0 Launch.

Thursday Jul 12, 2012

Oracle Exalogic in Public Sector: Law Enforcement

The mandate for government law enforcement agencies is to safe-guard the protect the public against instruments of terror and enforce legislation. Ensuring authorized entry or exit of people, keeping unauthorized and dangerous immigrants under check and monitoring large scale goods movement is clearly one of the most critical and demanding operating environments. Processing thousands of people and vehicles places extreme demands on the underlying IT infrastructure. To support their mission critical operations, governments rely on massive data center facilities typically dispersed across multiple locations. Such IT operations are managed by several thousand personnel.

When it is a matter of national security, failure is not an option under any circumstances. Uninterrupted 24x7x365 operation is a necessity, since an hour of downtime can back up thousands of people at the borders during peak traffic times. Needless to say, the IT solutions law enforcement agencies require must offer utmost reliability, scalability, and security. Given the mission-critical nature of their operations, homeland security agencies are looking to evolve their IT infrastructure in a sustainable manner so as to cater to both existing and future workloads.

The overarching priority for law enforcement agencies is to reduce data center costs through application and infrastructure consolidation.

The challenge with the traditional approach is that:

  • Parts are not guaranteed to work together.
  • There are too many possible variations and a lack of standardization.
  • The final product is not optimized for best performance or maintenance.
  • There is no overall warranty.

The Engineered Systems approach to data centre operations is a paradigm shift from the traditional approach of assembling disparate layers of storage, networking, compute nodes, operating systems and so on.

Broadly speaking, there are primarily 3 factors why Oracle Exalogic has become the logical choice of running business applications for law enforcement agencies:

Firstly, by virtualizing the middle-tier infrastructure, Oracle Exalogic enables law enforcement agencies to eliminate large-scale, legacy systems. Moreover, consolidating multiple platforms onto a smaller number of machines requires very little or no modification of the application code. The benefit of physical and virtual consolidation is a manifold reduction in data center footprints and accompanying energy savings (in terms of cooling and consumption).

Secondly, the simplicity of managing a distributed private cloud middle-tier infrastructure in another important deciding factor. Distributed systems often require separate teams to manage the various solution components. As a result, root-cause analysis can be subject to undue complexity as multiple vendors claim that others are responsible for the issues at hand. With Oracle Exalogic, there is an single touch-point for any support issue involving Oracle Applications, middleware, compute nodes, networking and storage.

Thirdly, Exalogic has native integration with Exadata, Oracle’s engineered system for OLTP workloads. Having a standardized data-tier on Exadata creates unmatched synergies in running the middle-tier on Oracle Exalogic. Find out more, at the upcoming Exalogic Elastic Cloud 2.0 Launch.

Wednesday May 23, 2012

Performance - What? How? Why? - part 1 / 3

Performance has been the lingua franca for IT vendors for some decades now. When asked about the merit of a product be it hardware, software or even a framework, the instinctive response of vendors is to proclaim superiority of their product in terms of  Performance - "5x Performance Gains", "micro latency", "2ms response time", "10 million transactions/sec", etc., and more, the list is endless. With due respect to the R&D efforts behind developing exceptional software and hardware products, i find it bewildering and beguiling when sales, marketing (and sometimes technical people) draw a simplistic connection between Performance and business value. For instance, how do you connect the dots when someone says "5X performance improvement in XYZ leads to faster time-to-market"? Surely there must be a connection but i find the leap of imagination delusional.

Motivated by my own inadequacy to comprehend the business value of Performance i decided to get back to fundamentals and develop my thinking based on the notion of Wait-time from Queuing Theory. This theory states that average Waite-time in a single queue is a function of the systems Capacity, Utilization and Efficiency. i.e. Wait-time = f(Capacity, Utilization, Efficiency), where Wait-time is inversely related to Capacity and Efficiency and directly related to Utilization. Two things worth noting in this model are that firstly, Capacity is costly and such needs to be sized for economics and secondly for a given capacity there is an optimal Utilization Rate beyond which Wait-Time increases exponentially.

Let me illustrate this with an example of a capacity planning for a dine-in restaurant. If there are too many chairs, wait-time for guests arriving at the restaurant will be very little but this will incur overhead of over-capacity. On the contrary, if there are too few chairs, wait-time for guests will be very high, in the worst-case long enough to cause the queue of waiting people to churn. In theory this would mean a Utilization of 100%! This is an important point to note as what i mentioned earlier too that Utilization increases exponentially beyond a certain threshold level. Efficiency is what influences when this threshold level is reached. Hence capacity will need to be planned keeping long-term and peak traffic at the restaurant in mind while achieving a utilization rate that offers the optimal balance between idle-time overhead and queue wait time.

Performance of computers too is analogous to the Queuing Theory model. The graphic below depicts the dimensions of performance, the primary technological approaches that drive improvement in those dimensions and finally how those approaches map to the notion of Capacity, Utilization and Efficiency.


In the next post, i will delve deeper into articulating How performance is accomplished in terms of Capacity, Utilization and Efficiency through engineered systems.

About

A business centric perspective on Private Cloud, Data-center Modernization and EAI.

Author:
Sanjeev Sharma
Twitter: @sanjeevio

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